Gambier Park Proposed

Residents of Gambier Island are talking about the David Suzuki Foundation’s proposal to create a national park on the west side of the island. Area F director Ian Winn suggests that people should consider the history of Stanley Park when assessing the park’s potential.

Before its dedication in 1888, Stanley Park had been used mainly for food gathering and fishing by aboriginals and non-aboriginals. There had been some logging and a military reserve. A few cabins squatted on the land, but mostly it was wilderness. The government at the time showed great vision in protecting the area so it could become the jewel it is today, Winn says. Gambier has jewel potential too.

Developers and investors see the lush green landscapes of the islands and the Sunshine Coast and “no doubt salivate at the prospects for their interests,” Winn wrote in an email to me. “The time would be now to advance the feasibility studies and concepts of protecting part of Gambier Island as a park for future generations to admire and enjoy.”

Fires, Floods, Earthquakes, Snow and Ice Storms, Explosions: Are You Protected?

The West Howe Sound Community Association will ask that question at a general fireextinguishermeeting on Feb. 22. The focus is on Area F, where a fire in Dogpatch wiped out a family home last year and where 45 families lost power for 18 hours during the recent snowstorm. Experts will talk about protecting yourself in a disaster and what kind of protection you can expect from the regional district.

The West Howe Sound Community Association meets several times a year to discuss issues important to residents of Area F. The meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22, takes place at 7 pm in Eric Cardinall Hall, Shirley Macey Park, 930 Chamberlin Road, West Howe Sound.

West Howe Sound Community Association to discuss fire safety and residential care

Fire protection is a hot topic in West Howe Sound, especially after residents of Dogpatch, near Port Mellon, watched a home burn down last year. Firefighters were told they did not have jurisdiction in the area. The West Howe Sound Community Association will discuss this and other topics of concern to Area F residents at a general meeting Feb. 8.

In addition to a discussion on fire protection and emergency services, the meeting will hear a community update from Area F director Ian Winn. Sue Jackel will also be there to discuss residential care on the Coast.

The WHSCA meets several times a year to explore issues of interest to area residents.  Anyone who lives in Area F is welcome to join the association.

The event takes place at 7 pm, Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Eric Cardinall Hall in Shirley Macey Park, 930 Chamberlin Road.

A new year on the Coast!

Onlookers at Armours Beach watch the polar bear swim. About 80 people gathered for the  event in Gibsons.

Onlookers at Armours Beach watching the polar bear swim. About 80 people gathered for the event in Gibsons.

I was happy to watch the polar bear swim at Armours Beach in Gibsons on New Years Day–and happy to be on dry ground! Still, the polar bears seemed to have fun despite the zero temperature and overcast sky. It was a great welcome to what’s sure to be a wonderful year on the Coast.

Art Crawl Crawls into the Evening

Despite a rainy weekend, the 2016 Sunshine Coast Art Crawl got off to an engaging start with 130 venues throughout the Coast displaying artwork.

Several artists kept their doors open until late in the evening October 21, the first day of the crawl. Events included a rip-roaring bluegrass concert at the Forst Pottery Studio on Chamberlin Road and a wine-and-munchies gathering at Jennifer Ettinger’s studio on Chaster.

Anyone who missed the weekend event can visit many of the artists’ studios throughout the year. Some require an appointment. For details, check out the  Coast Cultural Alliance’s Purple Banner Index.

art-crawl-jennifer-ettinger-2016

Jennifer Ettinger shows a silk print to Art Crawl visitor Al Hyland. The print design originated as one of Ettinger’s paintings.

Move over George, here comes the Aristocracy Castle

Mansion 4

One of four signs at the entrance of the mansion property at 1393 Port Mellon Highway.

First there was the George Hotel. Next may be the Aristocracy Castle. That name (translated) comes from the foreign investor group that purchased the hilltop mansion in Langdale that overlooks the ferry terminal. Plans on the investors’ website* show the terminal gone. Instead there would be a grandiloquent village of shopping plazas and apartment projects, a string of hotels along the shore, and a massive waterfront structure that would make the George look like a small B&B.

I doubt if that’s a vision many Sunshine Coast residents want to see.

The investors purchased the property in 2015 for $6.666 million. (Six is a lucky number in China.) They are looking for funding to complete the project. They have asked the Gibsons Chamber of Commerce for support in changing the zoning for the property—just like the George did.

The George proposal went through with majority support from the business community in Lower Gibsons. The small, pretty shops and restaurants along Gower Point had suffered from the ebb and flow of the tourism dollar. The George promised to make it a steady stream.

Now that the George has achieved its rezoning ambitions, those shops are beginning to worry. Already at least two businesses on Gower Point Road have been refused the usual five-year renewal for their leases. Instead each was offered only a two-year lease. In two years, the George may loom high above Lower Gibsons, and if it is successful, rents are set to climb. The little businesses townspeople love may be pushed away in lieu of big-city franchises willing to pay top dollar for a tourist-attracting location.

In Langdale the development issue is further into the future but to me it seems scarier. If the SCRD bows to pressure from the mansion’s developers, the zoning for the property could be changed much more radically than the George’s. The mansion is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, and the zoning allows only B&Bs. If the investors get their way, the entrance to the Sunshine Coast may one day be inhabited only by the very, very rich.

* For an English version of the site, hit the Google “translate” button. In most browsers it is on the upper right.

“CRA officer” tries to scam me

I just received a robo call from someone who identified himself as Officer Ryan Smith of the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA had detected fraud in my tax return, Smith said. He directed me to call an 855 number in order to rectify the situation. I knew right away this was a scam and didn’t call the number.

Instead, I went to the RCMP Scams and Fraud site and called Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre number cited at the bottom of the page. The Fraud line directed me to a CRA phone number. After clicking through several menus I talked with a CRA rep named Tenese. I told her about  the robo call and said Ryan Smith sounded East Indian.

Tenese pointed out that the ethnicity of a person has no bearing on scam cases.

“I agree,” I said. But if the scammer had called himself something like Khaled Hosseini (the talented, bestselling author of the Kite Runner) and had an Irish brogue, I would be equally suspicious.

Tenese then gave me the number of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre line. I explained that I had already called that exact number, and then she said I should call it. I explained again that I had already called that number, and then again she said I should call it.

Tenese was cordial, and I didn’t want to trouble her by endlessly explaining the endless Mobius telephone route. So I went to the CAFC site and tried its online scam reporting tool. It turned out that the tool would not accept reporting by an individual. So I plugged in my name as a business name, and I reported the scam.

As I await a response, I thought I should pass along Tenese’s advice: the CRA never makes calls like this but would send you a letter instead.

You should never call back to a number you’re given in any even slightly suspicious call. At the least, it will put you on a contact list to receive more and more scam calls. At the most you may be soaked out of many thousands of dollars.

Given the high percentage of seniors on the Coast who some may perceive as gullible, our community is a sure target for scammers. I will let you know if I hear back from the CRA. Meanwhile, keep up your anti-scam radar.