Future of Gibsons’ Holland Lands heads for public consultation
The February 1 council meeting for the town of Gibsons included discussions on the future of Holland Lands, the poverty reduction strategy, watersheds and seepage along the levee.
With all Gibsons board members present at the February 1 online meeting, the board voted to hold four weeks of public engagement starting this month on redevelopment concepts backed by the Holland Lands/Cultural Corner Select Committee. This committee includes representatives of organizations that have facilities located on the grounds surrounding City Hall. The group favors a coordinated rather than facility-by-facility approach to redesigning the area to improve public use. Chairman of the Con committee. Aleria Ladwig said there was “broad support for the transformational approach”, on two conditions. The first is that the sale of a portion of the land to a community-minded developer for a housing project be considered to help and raise the capital needed for the redevelopment. The second is that work only takes place if community support for any redevelopment plan is assured.
While the engagement process has yet to be finalized, the board received its first comment on the matter during the meeting’s public inquiry period. Town resident Donna Thomas said: “I don’t believe any of the Holland Lands should be for sale, period. I would like us to use Holland Lands to demonstrate our support for the First Nations concept that the land belongs to none of us, but to all of us… sharing the land is one thing, but selling it is another .
Ladwig suggested that an open house event to review the public comments received be scheduled for late March. Recommendations on next steps for the potential redevelopment could then be delivered to council in April.
Approval of the poverty reduction strategy request
Gibsons has added support for a regional application through the second phase of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ Poverty Reduction Strategy grant program. Appearing as a delegation to the meeting, Sechelt Mayor Darnelda Siegers informed the council that her jurisdiction and the Sunshine Coast Regional District are already on board and that by applying as a region, the coast is eligible for a grant of up to $150,000. If granted funding, Sechelt will coordinate work to begin implementing the eight recommendations of the Coast’s Poverty Reduction Plan. This document was developed in 2021 with a $93,000 grant from the first phase of the program. The focus of the coming year’s work would be to set up a local “poverty reduction action coalition”, launch a communications campaign to tackle poverty awareness issues, as well as than to coordinate and improve programs that support greater digital access for those who need it but cannot. afford.
Watershed Security Strategy and Funds
A video clip of Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman’s January 26 announcement regarding public engagement on the provincial watershed safety strategy was shown during the meeting. Mayor Beamish said the presentation was “a call to arms and an opportunity” for the city to get involved and access funds to protect its watershed. “We have a need, and we must make it our priority…we cannot afford to damage our watershed because we have no alternative.
Residents were encouraged to visit the city’s website or engage.gov.bc.ca/watershedsecurity/process by March 18 to provide feedback. Beamish said the city’s official comments would be reviewed at a future council meeting before being submitted to the province.
Although he did not attend the council meeting, Executive Director Emanuel Machado was greeted by Mayor Beamish during an online committee meeting held earlier today. Machado had been on leave from his post for health reasons since April 2021.
Dyke Infiltration Test
The Council agreed to ask staff to have Vancouver Coastal Health test for “unidentified” seeps that seep into the ocean from the city’s levee area. This action came in response to concerns raised in a letter from a member of the public and voiced at the meeting by Coun. Annemarie DeAndrade on the potential “toxicity” of this runoff. Mayor Beamish noted that previous tests had shown the seepage was uncontaminated and came from “natural sources”. Once the updated test results were received, the council agreed to consider installing signage at the site to inform the public of the content and source of the leak.