Persistency has paid off for Area C Director Jim Abram.
Thanks to what Abram himself described as a “smack” to a provincial minister, the Strathcona Regional District has finally secured long-awaited funding for seismic upgrades to Quadra Island’s Emergency Operations Centre.
After being turned down twice for senior government grant funding, the regional district discovered in late March that it will receive $500,000 to carry out seismic improvements at Quadra’s Community Centre, which serves as the area’s Emergency Operations Centre during catastrophic emergencies.
Dave Leitch, CAO of the Strathcona Regional District, was giving Abram all the credit at the regional district’s board of directors meeting on Wednesday.
“Director Abram has been working the ministries and politicians over some time,” Leitch said. “And through his stealth ways — we still don’t know how — Director Abram managed to secure that.”
Abram said it took “a lot of back and forth” with some “extremely cooperative people” after the regional district’s application to an infrastructure grant program was turned down last year.
“It started with a punch on the shoulder to (Transportation and Infrastructure Minister) Todd Stone when I saw him at UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalities convention),” Abram said. “He was right in front of me and I smacked him and said, ‘Todd, what’s going on? We applied for a program that you initiated for seismic upgrades to our Emergency Operations Centre and you turned us down.’ And he said, ‘oh, that can’t be. I’ll have to look into it.’”
Abram said the very next day a meeting was arranged.
The end result?
The money came through.
The only glitch was the regional district was not aware it was receiving the $500,000 grant until a week after the funding announcement on March 15.
Tom Yates, the regional district’s corporate services manager, said that by the end of the month, time was running out for the regional district to accept the funding.
“The following week, on March 28, 2017, the regional district was advised by the province that the project was in jeopardy unless a signed copy of the funding agreement was delivered to the province the same day,” Yates said. “To avoid the threat of funding withdrawal, staff managed to obtain a copy of the funding agreement from the province and, in the absence of the chair, arranged for the vice chair to attend at the regional district office and execute the agreement.”
At last week’s board meeting, Yates appologized to the board for “pre-empting the board’s authority on deciding whether or not to accept this money” and joked that staff would “hang our heads in shame” but the funding agreement would have fallen through otherwise.
Abram thanked staff for going ahead with signing the document which will make the seismic improvements possible.
The board has been trying to secure funding for the upgrades since at least 2013 when a seismic evaluation was carried out on the centre which was built in 1985 with a new stage and a two-storey addition added in 2001.
The evaluation report gave the Emergency Operations Centre an H3 ranking — a high level on the priority retrofit ranking scale — which expects isolated failure of the building, such as walls, and irreparable damage in the event of a significant earthquake.