Jim Abram served two terms as chair of the board of the Stratchona Regional District. The position will now be filled by Director John MacDonald. Abram will fill the role of vice-chair.

New chairperson for SRD

The Strathcona Regional District has elected a new chair who wants to establish a new policy for how the position is chosen.

Director John MacDonald, also the mayor of Sayward, said in his speech to the board prior to the election that he believes there should be a limit on how long any one director can sit as board chair.

“My belief is that no director should sit as chair for more than two years and that the position should be alternated between electoral area and municipal directors,” he said.

It’s why MacDonald ran to unseat Quadra Island Director Jim Abram, who has chaired the regional district board since 2013.

During his two terms as chair, Abram told the board has met with the BC Conservative caucus at the federal level to bring the Strathcona Regional District’s issues to the federal government and had been working with the federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to discuss BC Ferries, local Fisheries and Oceans staffing levels, as well as Coast Guard radio stations and lighthouses.

He has also been working with the We Wai Kai First Nation on developing servicing agreements to bring sewer service to Cape Mudge Village on Quadra and he spoke to the assembly of the First Nations Summit in October to convince First Nations to support coastal communities in their fight with the province over BC Ferries.

Abram said as chair, in the last year he attended 80 meetings, including regional district board meetings, and was away for meetings and other regional district business for 63 days.

But in a vote by secret ballot at the regional district’s inaugural board meeting last Thursday, the board thought it was time for a change and elected MacDonald to take over the reins. A new chair is elected once each December.

MacDonald, who said he has proven leadership skills as mayor of Sayward, promised he would give the board 100 per cent.

“Thank you very much for your confidence in me,” MacDonald said following the vote. “I will give you the best, I can promise you that. And thank you to Director Abram.

“You have done a lot and it’s been well appreciated but it’s time, I think, for a change.”

Abram, in his pitch to the board just prior to the election, said he would have loved to continue his work as chair.

“I love local government, there’s no other place to be but here. I also love being the chair of this regional district and I hope I can continue that,” Abram said. “I would love to have another term to complete some of the work we have on the go.”

That work includes the search for a new chief administrative officer as Russ Hotsenpiller is leaving the regional district come January for a job with Islands Trust, as well as moving forward with a newly established service for the electoral areas within the district.

The board is also considering options for creating a regional arts and culture function and is continuing on with the new Community Health Network.

While Abram was unsuccessful in his bid to continue on as board chair, he was nominated by Area D Director Brenda Leigh for the role of vice-chair and won that vote by acclamation after no one else was nominated.