In spite of COVID-19, qathet Regional District (qRD) has been busy, according to its chair.
Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon said at the July 30 board meeting that all local governments had to report to the provincial government earlier this month with regard to what is being done to assist in the province’s economic recovery.
“That’s a pretty broad subject, but the chief administrative officer and I presented a list,” said Brabazon.
In reading the list at the regional board meeting, Brabazon said the regional district has been able to carry on business without layoffs. He said staff members are working remotely from home or in the field, observing physical distancing requirements.
He said the regional district has facilitated virtual participation at meetings by the board, staff and delegations to allow business to continue.
The regional board has been able to honour grant requests it has received for events because organizers have bills to pay. Brabazon said these organizations have laid out money, and because events have been cancelled, they have no gate admission fees or revenues coming in.
“We want them back again for next year,” said Brabazon.
The regional district reopened its campgrounds on June 1.
Brabazon said the board has waived late payment fees and penalty fees on utilities. He said the regional district reclassified a property within the utility service boundary for cheaper consumption rates because the business wasn’t operating as it would have if it were not for COVID-19.
The regional district provided a letter of support for the two per cent municipal regional district tax renewal, which is charged on accommodations for marketing purposes. The regional district also entered a four-year service agreement with Tourism Powell River. Brabazon said the regional district also supported a Sunshine Coast Tourism Board application for the online accommodation platform grant.
The regional district has also adjusted the deadline for grant applications to allow organizations more time to get their applications in.
The regional district has continued with large capital projects, especially the resource-recovery centre, said Brabazon.
“The qRD has also waived rent for the non-profits using its facilities and has written social purchasing language into its purchasing bylaw,” he added.
The regional district is keeping an eye on the low-income population so people don’t fall into the vulnerable category with the economic distress, said Brabazon. He added that it is important to watch out for potential complications with the middle-ground population. He said these are people who are too old to have dependents to get relief, and too young – they are not seniors – to obtain such relief.
“The bulk of the population probably falls somewhere into that category,” said Brabazon. “That was the report to the minister from us.”
Brabazon said some good news is that qRD has received a total of $82,000 as a reward for its shoreline cleanup campaign.
He said qRD is going to receive $52,000 to assist in building a facility at the resource-recovery centre to house waste or debris that comes off the beaches, and another $30,000 for ongoing maintenance.
“We can be very proud of ourselves, and especially our staff,” said Brabazon.
He said some not-so-good news was communication from a group who came to travel the Powell Forest Canoe Route, which is a highly popular route for people who want to enjoy the outdoors in canoes. He said the group came to a particular campground, which is supposed to be water-only access, to find it largely taken over by people who had arrived in motor vehicles and were “extremely rowdy.”
“Their complaint has been passed along to the appropriate authorities, so we’ll see what comes of that,” said Brabazon.
He also said he is continuing to pursue Telus with regard to a tower to provide improved cellular and internet reception in Lund. Brabazon said he allowed that to drop because of the COVID-19 situation.
“I have informed people up in the Lund area that I am going to raise it again; I’m going back to Telus,” said Brabazon. “They can’t just ignore the fact that just because people didn’t want it in one location that they just can’t throw up their hands and walk away. It’s time to rattle their cage again.”