Agency denies SRD request

The Strathcona Regional District’s request to have two representatives on a marine planning board has been rejected

The Strathcona Regional District’s request to have two representatives on a marine planning board has been rejected.

In December, the regional board wrote to the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) to ask if the regional district could have two representatives on MaPP.

Dave Leitch, chief administrative officer of the Strathcona Regional District, said MaPP denied that request.

“We received a letter back saying they won’t give us a second appointment but they will give an appointment to the City of Campbell River,” Leitch said at last week’s Wednesday regional district board meeting.

If the City of Campbell River accepts, that would mean the regional district’s representative – Director and Campbell River Coun. Larry Samson, who was appointed in December for the 2017 year – could sit on MaPP as the city’s representative instead.

That would allow Area C Director Jim Abram, who was the regional district’s previous representative on MaPP and who wanted to be re-appointed, to fill the regional district’s spot at the MaPP table.

Barb Dinning, a senior technical planner for MaPP, wrote on behalf of North Vancouver Island MaPP members John Bones and Andy Witt that it is willing to allow one representative each from the Strathcona Regional District and the City of Campbell River as a compromise and added that they would like to see Abram continue on with MaPP.

“Assuming the City of Campbell River accepts our invitation, we request that the regional district confirm a single representative, preferably one from a different area than the City of Campbell River,” Dinning wrote.

“Your previous representative was Jim Abram, and we would be pleased to see him continue in that role, due to his prior involvement in the planning process.”

MaPP has completed marine planes for four sub-regions – Haida Gwaii, North Coast, Central Coast and North Vancouver Island – and a regional action framework.

The plans include recommendations to develop and sustain coastal community economies and resilient marine ecosystems.

Abram, though, will have to wait to find out if he will get the opportunity to continue on with that work. Campbell River city council had not received MaPP’s invitation prior to the last council meeting, on Jan. 9, and Campbell River Director and Mayor Andy Adams suggested that the regional district hold off on making any decisions about its appointment until the issue is discussed by council which meets this coming Monday.

If council accepts the appointment, it is likely Samson would represent the city rather than the regional district.

Samson was appointed to be the regional district’s representative on the advice of Campbell River Director and Coun. Charlie Cornfield. Cornfield’s rationale was that Samson sits on a committee working to get the North Island accredited as a Whale Heritage Site and as such, an appointment to MaPP, which is a partnership between 17 First Nations and the province to develop plans for marine uses on B.C.’s north Pacific coast, seemed fitting.

Because Board Chair John MacDonald had recommended Abram be re-appointed to MaPP, the board was forced to choose between Samson and Abram through a secret ballot.

Abram told the board that he wanted to retain his spot on MaPP, and pointed out that he has been involved in much of the legwork.

“I’ve been doing my job for local government, I’ve been there since the beginning, I’ve contributed considerably, done a huge amount of work for our local government, spent countless hours reading agendas, writing reports and have reported on a meeting-by-meeting basis in writing,” Abram added. “I’ve done the ground work and would love to be there for the on-the-ground work.”

After electing Samson, the board passed the motion that Abram would be the second representative if MaPP allowed for that.