A happy spring that is free from floods is what I’m sure we are all hoping for. Conditions are different this year as the snowpack is a bit below normal and a lot of rain is not in the forecast. The melt will be quite rapid with our rising temperatures and the ground is still quite frozen in places so there will be surface water. I know everyone is flood weary so with any luck we will get a bit of a reprieve this spring.
Bill 52, the Agriculture Land Commission Amendment Act has made some major changes to the control and management of all Agriculture designated land in BC. The Bill changes the definition of agricultural land, removes the 2 zones, regulates house size and siting on agricultural land, and puts soil removal or dumping on Agricultural land into legislation from regulation. The impact of Bill 52 will be felt more in the lower mainland.
Bill 15, the Agriculture Land Commission Amendment Act should raise red flags for all of us in the Okanagan/Boundary-Similkameen. The definition of “persons” in this Bill excludes individual land owners and corporations from making application for exclusion of any land, big or small, from the ALR. Only a recognized Government will be able to make applications for exclusion and the owner’s consent is no longer required. In the past, land owners could make applications based on a change in family situation, to create a farm related business on site or to expand a current processing facility. The new rules do not allow the owners of the land to make applications or to present their case directly to the Commission. The Commission, which currently reviews applications, is dropping from 13 members to 11. The individual Regional Panels of 3 will be eliminated and one person will be appointed by Government from each Region to be on the new Commission. Unfortunately the new rules and regulations will only discourage farming – not enhance it. Remember these new rules also apply to Northern BC in areas that have never been farmed due to climate and soil conditions and that are now locked into an ALR designation.
On a different note entirely I have introduced for the third time in the last two years a bill to end time shifting. The Bill M201 is called the Uniform Pacific Time Zone Act. We currently live in the Pacific Standard Time Zone (our winter time zone) but since 1918 we have been turning our clocks one hour forward every Spring into Daylight Savings Time and everyone else in our Pacific Time Zone has done the same (Washington State, Oregon and California). In 2018 those States started processing Bills through their respective governments to keep Daylight Savings Time all year round. Bill M201 proposes that we go to Daylight Savings Time permanently also to maintain a standard Pacific Time Zone. While there has always been a great interest in stopping the clock switching twice a year this is the first time a united effort is being worked on up and down the West Coast. There are a few who do not agree with Daylight Savings Time but the majority have indicated this is the preference and everyone agrees that switching times twice a year needs to stop. Thanks to the City of Grand Forks who, in 2017 and 2018, put this issue on the floor of the UBCM as a resolution. It passed both times and the ongoing support from all over the Province has encouraged me to continue to push this issue at the Legislature. You can also do your part by sending emails to Premier John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver asking them to action Bill M201 and Facebook/Tweet all your of friends to get involved.
Happy Easter, and Happy Spring from Patt, Colleen and I.
District staff reported to the Board that 43 high school students represented School District No. 53 at the Skills Canada and Technology Competition. Of note, there were four students who earned Gold and are invited to compete in the Provincial Skills Canada Competition at the Tradex in Abbotsford on April 15, 2019.
The students who captured Gold are Maddy Bayliss and Kulshan Aujla from OSS in Gravity Cars and Sam Anderson from SOSS in Auto Service Tech and Jordan Bayda in Photography. The Board congratulates all students who medaled as well as those who attended. The Board would also like to thank the teachers who helped prepare our students for the competition. Well done all!
On February 25 the Board signed its first LEA (Local Education Agreement) with the Upper Similkameen Indian Band. An LEA is an agreement between a First Nation and a provincial school board. It outlines the terms for the purchase of educational services by the First Nation for status Indigenous students ordinarily resident on-reserve but attending schools off-reserve. The LEA also serves as a key mechanism to influence how school districts provide education services for First Nation students. We are also in the process of reviewing and updating our LEA with the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB). We are proud to have an agreement with all bands.
School District No. 53 is pleased to have received a grant from the Ministry of Education in the amount of $35,000 to support mental health and well-being promotion in our district. The intention of the funding is for promotion and prevention including system leadership and school capacity building. Initiatives we plan to include in our grant submission that address early action include Social and Emotional Learning, Trauma Informed School District Response training, Creating Communities of Wellness and a Trauma Informed School and Community Learning session on April 30.
The Board spent considerable discussion in crafting its response to the Ministry regarding feedback on the independent panel’s recommendations for the Funding Review Model. The work on updating the funding model is continuing throughout the province with smaller working groups through the spring and summer.
Finally, the Ministry has approved capital funding to the district in the amount of $910,760 for the 2019/2020 school year. The funding will be utilized for roof upgrades at various schools and purchase of two buses to replace aging buses in the yellow fleet.
Rob Zandee, Chairperson
School District No. 53 (Okanagan Similkameen