The Strathcona Regional District is looking at a busy fall season of public hearings, catching up on a backlog of hearings that were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four different issues are going to public hearing in the fall, three of which take place on Quadra Island. Two of the issues have been reported on in the Mirror in past months due to the lack of public hearings slowing proceedings: a rezoning application for a new BC Ferries berth on Quadra Island and a rezoning application for an affordable housing project on Cortes Island. Previously, BC Ferries voiced their concern about the delay, saying in a letter to the regional district board that “the overall project is complex, much work must be completed, and the schedule is relatively tight.”
Also, the Campbell River Coalition to End Homelessness had written a letter to the board asking for an expedited public hearing. At the time, Sue Moen, a representative from the coalition told the Mirror that “the letter that we wrote was in response to information that we received from the proponent that there were no public hearings, there had been no public hearings and there were no planned public hearings. They were very concerned.”
Now both of those public hearings, along with a hearing for Quadraponics Cannabis’ cannabis production and sales operation on Quadra Island and a rezoning application for a new fire hall also on Quadra Island have been scheduled.
During the meeting, Electoral Area C Director Jim Abram expressed his reservations on holding public hearings.
“I’ve been very opposed to holding public hearings virtually. I do not feel it is a true democratic process,” he said during the Aug. 19 meeting. “These bylaws, including the future ones that people are going to be looking at, have been waiting a very long time, assuming that we’d be able to wait until the COVID-19 crisis was over. Well, the pandemic is still here and appears to be ramping up again. I don’t think we can put off these hearings any longer, and I’m willing to agree to a hybrid virtual and in-person model at this time, due to the circumstances.”
He also made a motion requiring specific guidelines be adhered to for public meetings on Quadra, including enforcement to ensure guidelines are followed “to the letter,” accessible methods for people who wish to join virtually, accurate recordings of all proceedings both in person and virtually, that no director be required to be in person at the hearings and that minutes are made available within a reasonable time.
Quadra’s meetings are scheduled for Sept. 9 starting at 7 p.m. for the BC Ferries and fire hall issues, and Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. for the Quadraponics issue. Both will be held at the Quadra Island Community Hall.
The meeting on Cortes has been scheduled for Oct. 15 starting at 2 p.m. at Manson’s Community Hall.
Information on how to attend the meetings either virtually or in-person will be available on the regional district’s website.