Saturday, 29 July 2017

Shirley Day Volunteer Request

OPSRRA is embarking on an active OPSRRA membership drive this year including developing new brochures/posters for distribution, articles in local newspapers (e.g., Sooke Mirror), and setting up booths at local community events.

To this end, we’re currently looking for volunteers to staff (along with our directors) an OPSRRA booth at Shirley Day to attract new members.

Sunday, August 20 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

Don't forget the BBQ 4:00 to 6:00 PM

Let us know if you are able to help out and lighten the workload.

Thanks so much!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail Map

Have you ever wanted to explore?
Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

Kemp Lake Road Proposed Cell Tower

Mock up of Kemp Lake Road Proposed Cell Tower

We received a letter from Freedom Mobile around May 24, 2017, proposing a 45 m tall mobile cell tower on a neighbouring property on Kemp Lake Road. Our household was numb for the first couple of weeks. We had moved here a few years ago wishing to have a nice country life and a safe environment for our young children.

Telecommunications is a federal issue, but we still contacted our local authorities, attended the Sooke meeting of the whole June 19, 2017, about other cell towers proposed in Sooke to understand the issue better. Freedom was not obliged to have an open hearing in Otter Point beyond a letter of public input, but they were willing to do so if requested.

We went door to door with a petition to have the cell tower located elsewhere. We were struck by how many neighbours felt powerless in this process. Everyone we approached signed to have the tower relocated—20 signatures in all. We sent a cover letter and the petition to MP Randall Garrison’s office, and copied the letter to Freedom Mobile and the CRD Planning Office.

Our MP, Juan de Fuca Regional Director, CRD Planning Department and Otter Point and Shirley Resident and Ratepayers Association have all supported our proposal to have this cell tower built away from housing. Freedom contacted us explaining that a new location for the cell tower may be considered, but this is to be confirmed. We are in limbo for now.

We do appreciate the support from the authorities and Freedom’s willingness to re-evaluate their proposal, but we found it alarming that health and property value concerns were not taken seriously, our rural community as a whole is not included in the consultation process and that companies are federally permitted to have this much “freedom” when establishing itself near private households. This is an exercise in re-evaluating our legislative procedures, as well as the location of cell towers.

~ Christine Bossi

Editor's note: The following is a web site of all the cell towers in Canada.
Zoom to the Sooke area to see local towers:

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

June Quarterly Director’s Report

Hello everyone! We hope you are all enjoying the warm summer weather which has finally arrived!

This is the first of a series of quarterly reports from your duly-elected board through our newsletter to keep you better informed of issues and associated activities we have been working on behalf of our communities.

We wanted to kick-start this edition with introducing you to each of our six directors who were elected in at our AGM back in April…

Your OPSRRA Board (L to R): Bill Dushenko (President), Wendy Morton (Newsletter Editor), Sandy Barta (Membership/Webmaster/Publisher), Cheryl Wirch-Ryckman (Vice President), Alexander (mascot), Fiona McDannold (Director), Brenda Mark (Treasurer).

Bill Dushenko (President)  Contact: 250-642-4343/

Bill has been a homeowner in Otter Point (Tugwell Rd.) since 2005 and a director on the board since 2015. He is an adjunct professor in environmental science/management and sustainable development at RRU teaching both domestically and in China, as well as an educational/organizational consultant. Bill also loves to garden and hobby farm, raising chickens, turkeys and ducks with his partner; as well as a camping and sharing their lives with three beautiful dogs.

Wendy Morton (Newsletter and Calendar Editor) Contact:

Wendy has lived in Otter Point for 44 years. She grows a spectacular organic garden with her partner. Wendy is a poet, having received many awards, the most recent of which is the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General for her projects which have brought honour to Canada.  She is also a raven watcher.

Sandy Barta (Membership/Publisher)

Sandy arrived in Otter Point in a wind storm in 2000 and became an OPSRRA Director not long after. She began her OPSRRA life by helping with the infant web page and eventually became responsible for it. Her other duties include managing membership records, the Google account (remember the surveys?), and the Mailchimp account. Sandy enjoys the rural, wooded property she lives on and shares with three goofy llamas and an elderly cat.

Cheryl Wirch-Ryckman (Vice President)

Cheryl heard “Go West young woman” and got as far as Vancouver Island. In prep for the best years of her life, she and her husband bought a tract of land in Jordan River to build their home with a view. Cheryl works with businesses across the capital region at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and, when not helping to build the business community, she fights the good fight against a never-ending supply of broom along with her wonder-dog Coco.

Fiona McDannold (Director) Contact: 250-646-2730

Originally from Victoria where she and her husband Guy raised their 3 children, Fiona has lived in Shirley since 2007 and has been an OPSRRA director since 2009.  She sits on the Shirley/Jordan River APC, is a member of the Shirley Women’s Institute, was president of the Shirley Community Association from 2009-2017 and volunteers with other community organizations. She enjoys her garden and spends much of her time in her weaving studio.

Brenda Mark (Treasurer) Contact: 250-646-2598

Brenda has lived in the area since 1973; currently in Shirley.  She has been an OPSRRA Director since 2009.  Brenda is a retired RN, having worked at VGH for 30 years.  She is a steward for Jordan River Regional Park and sits on the Shirley/Jordan River APC. She values highly the natural beauty that surrounds her and the endless outdoor and recreational opportunities keep her, partner Gerard, sheepdog Alexander, cats Raphael and Persia active, healthy and happy.

Following our board meeting in May, the directors held their first retreat on June 4 (2017) to do some development work and planning for this year.  Some of the community issues we will be addressing include the following:

  • working with the province (through our MLA), CRD and other agencies to tackle road safety and access issues along highway 14 in our communities (a particularly hot topic of debate in our communities and Sooke these past few weeks);
  • getting community signage installed for Jordan River, and monitoring any future development plans for the townsite;
  • following up on one of the recommendations of the water sustainability report conducted by the RRU B.Sc. student team we “commissioned” last year, working with CRD and the province (through our MLA) to initiate a groundwater aquifer study in our three communities as part of understanding sustainable water supplies; 
  • continuing to support community members wishing to champion clean-up of illegal dumping sites and working with CRD to support education in this regard; and
  • reviving OPSRRA’s newsletter and community calendar in a revolving blog format.

This list, of course, is not exclusive/exhaustive and we encourage our OPSRRA members to bring any other important community issues to our attention using any of the contact information provided above.

Another important issue is OPSRRA’s membership which, although remaining relatively stable at around 440 full and associate members these past few years, needs to be expanded given:

  • that our current long-term members are not immortal, and
  • the number of new residents (and younger demographic) that have moved into our communities over the past number of years - many of who are not aware of OPSRRA and its important role in our communities.

To this end, we are also going to be conducting an active OPSRRA membership drive this year including developing new brochures/posters for distribution, articles in local newspapers (e.g., Sooke Mirror), and setting up booths at local community activities (e.g., Shirley Day). You can also help us in this our drive by:

  • speaking with and encouraging your neighbours to join (if they’re not already members), 
  • circulating our new OPSRRA brochures, and
  • helping us at booths at community events.

We really want this to be a banner year for OPSRRA and its communities, but we can’t do it without your help and involvement. If you wish to volunteer your time and assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Have a great and safe summer everyone!!!! 

Big trucks, bigger problems

My wife and I both have encountered logging trucks well across the line on our side, as you all have I’m sure. We know their perceived excessive speed, we see the damage on our roads caused by trucks far too big and heavy for the roadways, and the threats to ourselves, neighbours and families.
I recently spoke with a logging truck driver who, while empathetic to our noise concerns, “yes big trucks make big noise”, was the end of his consideration.
The driver went on to say that some of the trucks are using the new model ‘xyz’ engine brake that you could barely hear and that Western Forest Products had mandated that none of the trucks exceed the speed limit. Further, he pointed out: “If you think the roads are too narrow or poorly built—talk to the Highways folks.” He was sure that the truckers were not at fault for the repeated rollovers of loaded trucks, engine brake noise, excessive speeds, load sizes or disruptive noise. They were within the law and their rights to operate as they were accustomed—if we wanted change we’d have to get the roads fixed. No, he wouldn’t want these trucks going through his Okanagan neighbourhood.
In fairness, the truckers have families to feed, mortgages to pay and vacations to finance. And they happen to drive big trucks. Fair enough: I grew up in a logging family, a logging community and have participated in the act, I admit, for most of my life in a small way. I know that trees grow back, logging is a mainstay of our economy and that logs go to market.
I spoke with our CRD Director Mike Hicks, John Horgan’s office and local RCMP about this.
Mike took did a good job, reducing the 1:00 to 4:00 a.m. trucking, and I think a reduction in engine brake use. More noise awareness signs are posted and fresh paint down the centre-line of West Coast Road.
Mike ( invites us all to report any incidents of early morning logging truck hauling, engine brake use, and bad driving (excessive speed, road hogging, debris from loads and such). Be sure to do so.
The RCMP, have done their best with limited resources to oversee the errant truckers, but that mostly falls under the CVSI teams we see occasionally. Unfortunately, the truckers adjust their habits accordingly while the teams patrol.
John’s office invited me to meet in August after his new government has settled in.
What I, and probably most of you don’t get, is why other options such as other hauling routes, smaller trucks and loads, booming and towing by water are not being implemented, though cost to the logging companies is clear.

What to do?

Write to Mike, to John (he’s still our MLA) and the press.

Encourage your government officials to promote hauling raw timber by booms to mills in BC, to manufacture products for export, to consult affected communities, and to consider things like photo-radar, Silent Witness technology in the trucks (which monitor and report daily speeds and noise levels), to install centre line rumble strips, to enhance police, Commercial Vehicle Safety patrols and to make fines and penalties for infractions unsustainable.

There is no one answer as logging will be with us for a long time, timber is a renewable resource and critical to our economy and livelihoods.
If you are followed by these behemoths, stand your ground—drive the speed limit and make them do the same. Be very, very attentive, especially on curves; if one flips onto you, only the truck driver has a chance of surviving.
Be very aware, drive defensively and enjoy the summer!


Al of Otter Point

Note: This submission was edited for length

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

High-speed internet in Jordan River petition

Cold Shoulder Cafe held a community get together in mid-June for Jordan River residents. With so many new folks moving into the area it was a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours.

Given the number of young families and entrepreneurs, high-speed internet access was hotly discussed and a petition to bring fibre optics into the community is already well over 60 names. We’re looking for more to sign, so contact OPSRRA and we can put you in touch with the person who is spearheading the petition. Stay tuned for news on this growing and thriving community.

Teck's Jordan River water cleanup

At a community meeting in Jordan River, Teck representatives provided an update on the preliminary work on the high-risk waste site of mine tailings on the banks of the Jordan River. On-going research is focused on determining the toxicity of the copper discharge.

Teck is working in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and will provide a final report that will summarize their findings and provide options for cleanup.

The Jordan River Stewardship Round Table was initiated earlier this year and was created to provide a forum to share information, pool resources, attract funders, identify and rank projects at a watershed scale, and enable a proactive and inclusive way of conducting stewardship business. It is a results-focused working group that blends technical knowledge, management expertise, and community interests for the benefit of the fish and wildlife resources and their habitat within the watershed. Its primary interests include:

  • Restoration of salmonid habitat such that the river is capable of supporting natural and self-sustaining spawning populations of historic fish stocks.
  • Restoration of wildlife habitat in support of healthy and diverse wildlife populations.
  • Remediation of chronic copper issues in the lower river.
  • Monitoring of completed projects to understand successes and failures and track the recovery of fish and wildlife populations and their habitat.
  • Education and outreach.

~ Wayne Jackaman

Roses, spiders poem

I’m listening to the Brandenburg Concertos,
on the CD player, plugged in, trying to erase
the logging trucks that pile past on the West Coast Road,
their double loads bound for China
breaking the day.
The David Austin roses don’t mind,
nor the spiders, and their perfect, silent geometry.

Message from the new OPSRRA Newsletter editor

I’ve lived in Otter Point for 44 years. When I first came here, the West Coast Road was so quiet, so devoid of traffic, that I sometimes thought I could lay down in the middle of the road and not be bothered by traffic for hours.

Times have changed. Logging trucks with Jake brakes, double loads, who cross over into the oncoming lane with frequency. Gravel trucks going over the speed limit, motorcycles without mufflers.

I have been told if someone were looking at Otter Point from across the Strait, it would look like a massive clear-cut. That’s because it is. Great tracks of land are bought by forest companies, real estate companies, clear cut and because there is no requirement to replant, they don’t.

Otter Point is changing. Hey, there are trees everywhere, one could say. Yes, but not everywhere.
The photograph below is a clear cut. What does this mean for Otter Point? I’m going to find out.

 Pete Rockwell photograph

I‘m a member of OPSRRA because It provides a place where people can be heard. The board of OPSRRA attends meetings regarding land use and planning, meets with CRD and Provincial representatives, and provides a place where people can bring their concerns.

Join us, it costs only 10 dollars to join, and that’s a lifetime membership. Come to our meetings. Tell us what you want to happen in Otter Point.

Write to me if you have something you’d like in the newsletter (remove the spaces): opsrranewsletter @ gmail . com