Proposed Wharves Service Initiative
The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) has been provided funding from Transport Canada for wharves upgrades to Owen Bay (on Sonora Island), Surge Narrows (on Read Island) and Port Neville (in Johnstone Strait). Transport Canada divested these three wharves to the SRD in 2014 and has provided funding to operate and maintain the wharves for ten years. The deadline to complete necessary wharf upgrades using the Transport Canada funding is approaching.
To comply with municipal governance, the SRD must establish a wharves service for Electoral Area C – Discovery Islands and Mainland Inlets before spending funds and completing upgrades. This service will fund future operations and maintenance of these assets. If the SRD wharves service cannot be established, the wharves and funding will be returned to Transport Canada, and the SRD will not complete any wharf upgrades. Transport Canada is under no obligation to upgrade or continue operating the wharves if they are returned by the SRD.
On January 8th, 2023 the SRD Board of Directors passed a resolution to develop a new service establishing bylaw for the SRD-owned wharves that may be seen more favourably by ratepayers in Electoral Area C.
The SRD currently owns six wharves in Area C. Three of which are the Transport Canada divested wharves and three that are currently operated under the SRD Parks function – Granite Bay, Hoskyn Channel and Evans Bay. In order for the SRD to continue to operate and maintain all six wharves, the SRD would like to gauge the level of community support for this wharves service through an Alternate Approval Process.
All Area C residents were invited to an informative meeting with SRD’s Chief Administrative Officer Dave Leitch, SRD Engineering staff and Electoral Area C Director Robyn Mawhinney. This meeting took place on February 14th on Quadra Island and Surge Narrows. It was to inform residents about the potential establishment of the Area C Wharves Service and provided an opportunity to ask questions that residents had in advance of the Wharves Service Bylaw coming before the Board.
Thank you to all that attended. All feedback will be reviewed and we will keep you informed when new information is available.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
1. What is an Alternative Approval Process?
An Alternative Approval Process (AAP) is used to gauge the degree of acceptance by ratepayers of a particular service initiative. Generally speaking, the Regional Board will advertise its intent to proceed with the service. If at least 10% of ratepayers object to the creation of the service, the service must be approved through a voting process before it can be initiated.
The cost of an AAP is significantly less than seeking approval via voting and is often preferred for that reason. If the AAP process isn’t successful and in favour of such a service the wharves will be returned to Transport Canada, together with any funds spent to date.
2. Why is this happening now?
The deadline for the use of capital funding provided by Transport Canada will occur in November 2024. The Regional District must determine whether ratepayers support exists for the service as soon as possible to ensure there is enough time to complete the upgrades with the Transport Canada Funding.
3. How is the Transport Canada funding related to establishing this Service?
When the Regional District accepted ownership of these wharves, it was on the condition that Transport Canada would provide capital funding to cover the maintenance and operations and necessary upgrading until 2024. However, the Regional District must bear the costs of ongoing operations and maintenance.
If the Regional District cannot commit to covering the wharves’ ongoing operational and maintenance costs, the wharves must be returned to Transport Canada. The Transport Canada wharves funding can only be used for maintenance, operations, and improvements to “bring the Ports up to a minimum safety Standard or rendering the Ports in compliance with regulatory or insurance requirements.” Transport Canada funding expires in November of 2024 and any unused funds must be returned. Transport Canada makes no undertaking that it will continue to operate the wharves if they are returned by the SRD.
4. How much will this service cost?
The projected costs for the revised wharves service are still being reviewed by the Regional District. The proposed costs will be finalized before a bylaw is presented for the Regional Board’s consideration.
Projected annual costs for the service, tax rate estimates for properties within Electoral Area C and anticipated costs for individual properties based on assessed values will be shared publicly when presented to the board.
5. Why aren’t the wharves being funded as a regional service?
Generally speaking, services offered by the Regional District must be supported by the area that would benefit from the service. The wharves in question are all located within Electoral Area C. To offer operations and maintenance to wharves as a regional service, it would first be necessary to inventory all the public wharves located throughout the region, evaluate the cost of operating those facilities, and then seek ratepayer approval across the entire region.
6. Will this Bylaw allow the SRD to build unlimited wharves?
No, it will not. The maximum annual requisition for the wharves service contained in the establishing service bylaw is only sufficient to operate and maintain existing wharf facilities. If a new wharf is proposed and the cost for its construction requires funding from property taxes, a separate bylaw would need to be approved by ratepayers before construction.
7. What wharves will be included in this service?
There are six wharves included in this proposed service: Surge Narrows, Port Neville, Owen Bay, Granite Bay, Hoskyn Channel and Evans Bay.
The proposed service will not affect the cost of operating and maintaining the wharves located adjacent to Regional District parks – Granite Bay, Hoskyn Channel and Evans Bay as these park wharves have an existing annual budget.
8. What are the timelines to upgrade the wharves with Transport Canada funding?
The SRD has completed the detailed designs for Surge Narrows, Evans Bay and Owen Bay. All three wharves require new piles and pile driving must be done during specific times of the year due to environmental regulations.
Transport Canada funding expires on November 14th, 2024, which limits the pile driving to two construction windows – Fall 2023 and Summer 2024. Should the AAP be successful and the wharves service is established, the construction contract will be awarded in September 2023. Project upgrades to all three wharves will need to be completed by October 2024.
9. How does this service benefit the community?
Providing a reliable funding stream is essential for maintaining these facilities over the long term. While it is recognized that not all residents are likely to use the wharves, these facilities are part of the marine infrastructure and heritage of Electoral Area C and contribute to the quality of life for all residents in the same manner as schools, roads, and other general assets of the community.
- Transport Canada to SRD Agreement of Possession of Wharves_2014
- Transport Canada to SRD – Contribution Agreement 2014
- Transport Canada to SRD – Operating Agreement 2014
Please contact the SRD Engineering Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-830-6719.