Utility Bill Anger

There are a number of questions, often expressed with anger, frustration and disbelief, regarding the significant utility bill increases this year—especially during the global pandemic.

The SCRD board set this utility rate and parcel tax structure in late 2019. Utility fees are to pay for the costs of delivering the essential services of water, sewage and garbage collection, and cannot be revoked or deferred.

Water rates, especially, have significantly increased. Previously, the SCRD has been under-billing for the costs of delivering water and covering the shortfall through parcel taxes, also charged to you.

But taxes are not meant to pay for the basic delivery of our utilities, so we need to shift these costs over to the utility rates. Unfortunately making this shift does draw a stark picture of how much our most basic services do actually cost, at a most inconvenient time. These are such necessary costs as repairing the pipes, keeping the water clean at our treatment plant, monitoring water safety and distribution. Included in the utility billing is $650,000 in upgrades to support the significant water supply to the entire system from the new Church Road Well in West Howe Sound.

And we will still require parcel taxes to pay for new infrastructure costs related to water, such as meeting the great community need for more supply and the added challenges of climate change.

Also, every government in North America is dealing with the major challenge that infrastructure such as water pipes and sewage plants that were installed 30-50 years ago as we developed into modern communities, are in need of replacement.

Our board had a very difficult time making these decisions, but ultimately we’re confident that our communities recognize we can’t afford for our delivery of basic services to fail.

Despite being able to make adjustments to the property taxes for the SCRD (bills coming soon), utility bills were already being finalized when the Board discussed budget reductions due to the pandemic.  

Andreas Tize, Director from Area D, has a great synopsis in his December 2019 newsletter: https://www.andreastize.com/post/december-2019-newsletter

We are not on every social media thread, so please contact us directly when you have comments, questions and concerns. The following link connects with directors: https://www.scrd.ca/about-the-board

Regardless, we recognize that we need to do better to communicate, especially in the current situation of COVID-19. Speaking on behalf of the board and whole organization, I am sorry so many of our property owners feel blindsided.

Sometimes in the intensity of difficult decisions, we as elected officials can take it for granted that people are paying close attention to these matters weighing so heavily on our minds, or at least reading about them in the media. And it is especially problematic when bills don’t actually show up until months later, during new, unexpected circumstances.

All the more reason to communicate more proactively, which our entire board recognizes, and is committed to doing.


Please also check out the website of Donna McMahon, Director from Area E, https://everythingelphinstone.ca/why-has-my-utility-bill-increased/

water flows from the tap to sink

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Waste Management – Diversion or Aversion?

I attended the Infrastructure Services Committee Meeting at the Sunshine Coast Regional District on May 17.   Agenda items included water (a future blog post on that topic) and an update on the 2011 Solid Waste Management Plan, specifically on waste diversion.  (Full agenda here)    Waste diversion has essentially flatlined for a number of years, and is falling far behind the five year goals set in the SWMP.  The Plan Monitoring Advisory Committee has become defunct in recent months with no renewal of the SWMP in process.

With the Sunshine Coast’s landfill nearing capacity at an alarming rate, more must be done to combat the flow of refuse locally.

When you couple our community’s stagnant waste diversion rate with shocking images in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic: Planet or Plastic? ,  you can see the global crisis we are facing.     The issue is dedicated to bringing awareness and inspiring action in regards to the discarded plastics catastrophe our world is facing.    The magazine has also pledged to discontinue its use of a plastic wrap for new issues.  Hopefully, other publications will follow suit.   Or maybe consumers will choose to read the electronic versions instead.

And it ultimately comes down to choice – as individuals, we can say no to the single-use items or be prepared with reusable items.   Reducing what we consume and reusing what we already have goes a long way to combating the waste we generate.   Aversion to single use negates the need to divert.   

Local Governments need to take a strong leadership role; they are on the front lines of waste management and can be the most effective agents for change.   Saskatoon has recently banned plastic bags (including plastic film wraps, food packaging and bread bags) from recycling bins as it’s becoming increasingly difficult for their contracted disposal companies to find markets accepting these types of plastics.  There is a concern that these soft plastics will now hit the landfill even with an aim of 70% solid waste diversion by 2023.     Victoria has gone further, banning businesses from offering single use bags starting July 1, 2018.  They’re being tested on the legality of the ban by the Canadian Plastics Association.   Many other jurisdictions are watching with interest to see how the courts will rule, but Vancouver has chosen to move ahead with a more comprehensive ban including plastic straws and foam take-out containers for food and beverages.

Hopefully, the leadership taken by Victoria and Vancouver city councils will be followed by other municipal leaders.  We are out of time for planning, we need action.

What can you do?
  • VOTE.  BC Municipal Elections are coming up this October.   Find candidates that will take lead your community to find better solid waste solutions.     Or put your name forward as a candidate.   That’s what I’m doing – running in Halfmoon Bay for Sunshine Coast Regional District Director.
  • There are small things we can do to cut out the use of disposable products in our daily routines with planning ahead and reusing items already in our homes.   Here’s a great article showcasing some small steps to start you on the plastic-free path.
  • Zero Waste Canada has some great resources to help with your choices:
  • And if you do have to use and recycle, here’s our local SCRD Recycling Brochure
Links from above:

Wedding Bells

One of my best friends married her amazing partner this past weekend.  They are fantastic people and I love them dearly.     She “allowed” me to speak at the reception so I wrote a special poem for the two of them.  

Ballad of Tracey and Cam

‘Twas once upon an October night

Dark and stormy, no moon for light

When Tracey and Cam met by chance

In Roberts Creek Hall at a Halloween dance. 

Who knew such a relationship could come forth

When a blonde belly dancer from the Harbour up North

Met a questionable ginger from the city

With coke bottle glasses, wig and teeth not so pretty. 

Though first contact elicited a spark

A few weeks went by with no remark

Until one day a text did appear

Asking if TLG knew someone Cam worked near 

Thus started this couple that we all know 

A blossoming romance began to grow

Snowshoeing dates and chocolate fondue

Cypress, Dakota Ridge and other areas too. 

From the North Shore to the far reach of the Bay of Lee

Cam did venture to meet the children of Tracey 

The adventures continued through with this group of four

And then one day they decided they wanted more 

The time had come to find a home for them all to stay
They looked far and low and decided on Halfmoon Bay

Cam’s commute continued into the city 

He sucked up those early morning drives, didn’t expect any pity 

The family grew further with Wendy the cat 

A dog named Baxter who yes, only “weighs 50 pounds”,flat

With Johnny, Sarah, the pets made it six strong

Cam and Tracey decided there should be one more to come along

And Miss Piper arrived a few days early in August. 

Then Cam thought it was time to make his woman honest. 

When I learned Cam asked Tracey to be his bride

I’ll admit I did more than tear up, I full out cried. 

This man and this woman, a more perfect pair cannot be found

They laugh, are good friends at home and baseball mound. 

And while Cam may have shirts that proclaim we “suck this much” 

We know how large his heart is, its bounds you cannot touch. 

Tracey is our best friend, a vault and Nana’s princess 

Every piece of advice she gives, not a word she minces. 

With all these words, I ask you to raise glasses in toast

For our dear friends, this family we love most. 

To Cam and Tracey, may the life you’ve found with each other 

Be colourful, joyful, crazy- not a feeling should you smother. 

We celebrate your love on this day full of romances 

And Thank God for Roberts Creek Halloween dances. 

Are you an #EveryDayAllStar?

“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be” – Rita Pierson, from TED Education 2013
Ms. Pierson’s TED talk is geared for educators, but it’s applicable to all adults.  Every child needs a champion, a person who is their hero, everyday.
My daughter Carly has spent her summer working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area. Their campaign #EveryDayAllStar is focused on raising funds to support mentorship for children in need in the Calgary area. The power of connection is crucial for children to survive and thrive, and cannot always be found within their families.
Check out what they’re doing.  Donate if you can, or volunteer.   Not in the Calgary Area?   Find a Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in your community.   So many children need a safe adult they can connect with and help them to be their best.
Here’s a fun video to start your weekend  featuring the team from Big Brothers Big Sisters about their summer campaign.  (yes, there’s a cameo appearance of my girl)

The Elephant in my Head

Today is the day I share my elephant.

I am an open book. You can ask me anything, and I will give an honest answer. I love to talk about about my life and family, my experiences, and the ideas I have. I can have hard conversations over my skills, my mistakes and successes.

But the one thing I avoid discussing is my weight and my body image.

I was never a thin kid or teen. I didn’t exercise regularly, and I was a “brain” in school, with little athletic ability. I tried out for the Volleyball team in Junior High a couple of times, and didn’t make the one team picked out of the forty girls that tried out. I was a cheerleader in grades seven and eight, and was chosen as captain of the squad. As I had so much fun in junior high, I tried out for the high school team in grade nine but did not make it through the cuts. After the cliquey group that denied me access graduated, I tried out again and made it at that time. But the school population’s was not respectful of us. I remember overhearing a few comments along the lines of “is that the football team? no, those are the cheerleaders” . Not great for a young girl’s self esteem, so I quit.

I then joined Sea Cadets, and through summer camps and activities, became a lover of walking, running and marching drills. The camping and outdoor hikes were great, and I learned to sail. Active and fun.

During my grade twelve year, I started partying and working extensively. I dropped out of cadets, and concentrated on my social life, job, and finishing my grade twelve year. After graduation, I lived in my home town for another year before moving out to the coast with my employer as they had purchased a new store and needed managers to help open. The busyness of those months, coupled with the lack of extra activity and the habits that come from an active social life – drinking, smoking and poor eating choices – were not in my best interests.

I then met my kids’ dad, and had three beautiful girls. My first pregnancy was not as healthy as it should have been, as I worked six days a week until the last two months, not gaining any weight until I started Maternity leave. Then I gained forty pounds. The rest of the pregnancy was not healthy, making it necessary to deliver Carly in Vancouver at BC Women’s hospital. I was also left with a bad case of baby blues, feeling alone and disconnected in an area where I currently had no friends or family of my own.

I gradually lost some of the weight through exercise and the support of a weight loss program, getting down to as low as 185. I was thrilled, and felt great. Then I discovered I was pregnant. I vowed that this pregnancy would be different and ate healthy, participated in Aquafit classes and walked. Kimberly was born to a much healthier mother.

I rejoined the weight loss program not long after I was done nursing Kim, and the weight was slowly dissolving, when I found out that Michelle was on the way. I had to quit the program, and just try to eat healthy and exercise. After a semi-healthy pregnancy, I now had a six year old, a twenty month old and newborn.

I started running, and we got a dog – a boxer named Dozer – that helped me to keep active. I completed a 10K as well as a half-marathon.

After a few years, my marriage crumbled, and I was feeling strong, but gradually the weight started to creep up as my feelings of guilt, inadequacy and loneliness from missing my kids on their days with their dad layered me in numbness.

I found love in my husband Brian, who loves me wholeheartedly and has known me for many years. But as he works away, there is still an emptiness that food and self-pity fill.

I then broke my ankle – I rolled it while walking at work. The pain took quite a while to subside and I still have some discomfort from the area that broke, four and a half years later. But the fear of rolling it again ended my running, and even walking for fun.

In July of 2012, I reached a high of 255 pounds. Since then, I have gotten as low as 236, but in the past year and a half, have been bouncing around the 240’s.

I know how to eat healthy. I know how to exercise. Yet this struggle continues.

And why can I not talk about it?

My weight is a number. It is a value that changes, fluctuating with the whims of hormones, emotions and bad habits of an individual that does not know how to prioritize herself. I am not that number. It does not own me, but it does affect me.

My body image is the more difficult to talk about. The vision of me in my head is different than the one I see in the mirror, which is different again than the one I see in pictures. And the shame I sometimes feel is hard to swallow.

I have always prioritized other people’s needs before my own, a quality that serves me well in the service industry that I work in, but in my personal life, I do not have the same emotional boundaries.

I accept others for the people that they are; I love and support my friends and family at face value, and help them reach their goals and objectives, as well as being a kind ear to listen and a place to go for heartfelt hugs when they need one.

I deserve that same acceptance of myself… by me.

I am learning to accept my body for what it is , but mostly the person it belongs to…. me.

As a leader in my professional life, in my community as a Trustee and volunteer, a mentor and friend, and mostly as a mother to my three gorgeous daughters, I had to give voice to my personal struggle.

I am a strong woman, however my confidence is still a bit shaky.
But not for long.

I have set my elephant free.

Board of Education Regular Meeting

It’s that time again – second Tuesday of the month! The Sunshine Coast Board of Education meets the second Tuesday of every month for their Regular meeting. As always, members of the public are welcome to attend. The meetings are in the Board office at 494 South Fletcher Road in Gibsons, at 7 pm.

Here’s the link to the agenda – http://www.sd46.bc.ca/files/13-14%20Board%20Meetings/021114_RegMtg_Agenda.pdf

Hope to see you there!