Friends of Cortes Island launches 10K fundraising appeal at AGM

Friends of Cortes Island launches 10K fundraising appeal at AGM

The 33rd annual general meeting (AGM) for the Friends of Cortes Island fell on Giving Tuesday which prompted the organization’s plan to launch a fundraiser for $10,000. The non-profit is hoping that the $10,000 can support core FOCI programs and the environmental work they do on the island. At the AGM on Nov. 28, a video featured five FOCI Projects in action, out in the field, with a project overview by project leaders to contextualize the project. CKTZ spoke with Helen Hall, executive director of FOCI, at the AGM and she described how in the past project leaders spoke about their project at the business meeting, but this year they wanted to do things differently, keep the meeting to an hour and serve up a meal along with a video showing the projects rather than just telling about them.  “Often we are out in the wilds and people aren’t seeing what we’re doing. We thought doing something visual would be a really good thing to do,” stated Hall. This was part of several new ideas at this year’s AGM, including a first ever annual report. “I wanted to put things in numbers and step back a bit and look at what we do,” Hall said. For example, every month of the year we are maintaining 19 kms of trails. We also have 150 people involved in our volunteer projects, from beach clean-ups to counting fish. And we have a 147 different monitoring activities!” After Hall delivered the Financial Report, discussion ensued regarding Climate Action being under FOCI’s umbrella. Christine Robinson, one of the Streamkeeping project leaders, described climate action as being...
Ferry staff shortages cause resident concerns over safety

Ferry staff shortages cause resident concerns over safety

Cortes Island residents and BC Ferries staff are concerned about the number of ferry cancellations over the last months and how those shortages may impact safety. A recent BC Ferry annual report attributes a growing number of cancellations to staff shortages, which caused 39 per cent of the cancellations on all routes between July and September of this year. Between Campbell River, Quadra, and Cortes there were 58 sailing cancelled during that time due to crew shortages. In the entire previous fiscal year, those same routes saw a total of 19 sailings cancelled due to crew shortages. Cortes Islanders rely on the ferry system to connect to Vancouver Island for essential services and resources. Community members in attendance for the most recent public Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) on Sept. 27 had a long list of grievances including safety concerns related to staff shortages. Rebeka Carpenter was one of those community members in attendance and shared with CKTZ that it was difficult to connect with the company. “If there’s an issue that you talk to them about, they literally give you a piece of paper that says to contact BC Ferries directly about it. And these are often issues that they’ve been trying to get addressed for a decade,” Carpenter said. “Safety is really my big thing. If you’ve got safety down, I think everything else takes care of itself.” A BC Ferries worker spoke with CKTZ on the condition of anonymity due to the fear of retribution by their employer. They shared their insight about why they have seen so many colleagues leave the company in recent years. “It’s...
School bus route change maintains nearly hour-long commute each way

School bus route change maintains nearly hour-long commute each way

Last week, the school bus route on Cortes Island slightly changed to add a bus stop for the Klahoose First Nation. This change added 4 minutes to the commute, increasing the total travel time to about 58 minutes each way for kids from Whaletown. It only takes about 30 minutes to drive from Whaletown to the Cortes Island School. The Klahoose First Nation and Squirrel Cove are also about a 30 minute drive to the Cortes Island School, but those towns are located about 30 minutes away from Whaletown. There is only one bus and one route for the Cortes Island School. A media relations representative for School District 72, Jennifer Patrick, responded to CKTZ News in an email on the bus route change. “School districts are not required under the School Act to provide transportation services and the district provides busing as a courtesy, free of charge. Without ridership fees, we must make difficult decisions about the routes and service levels and operate within the funding set by the Board of Education as money spent on transportation is money that could be used to directly support learning in schools and classrooms. As such, we are always evaluating our routes with the bus drivers to try to find efficiencies.” Carie Taylor, a parent in Whaletown, spoke up publicly on the main Cortes Island website (Cortesisland.com) on the lengthy bus commute. In the post she suggested the possibility of a split route, which would require two buses. Taylor spoke with CKTZ about her statement.  “I just think that an hour each way on the bus is too long,” she said....
How the Salmon Run: Streamkeepers weigh in on latest salmon returns

How the Salmon Run: Streamkeepers weigh in on latest salmon returns

The latest salmon returns are in for 2023 and two streamkeepers from the region have made observations about the different populations. A great year for Pink Salmon was the good news. Poor returns for Chum were noted by both streamkeepers. Janet Gemmell, a streamkeeper, president of Courtenays Morrison Creek Streamkeepers, and a former resident of Carrington Bay on Cortes island, spoke with CKTZ about the Comox Valley. Gemmell highlighted why Morrison Creek is a very important salmon habitat and also spoke about her recent visit to Carrington Bay this past summer where she spotted Coho fry. CKTZ also caught up with Christine Robinson, Streamkeeper for Friends of Cortes Island. Robinson provided data for this year’s Cortes Chum Run and reflected on Gemmell’s Coho-spotting in Carrington Bay. For more information on the state of salmon, go to the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s website for further information. Listen to the story...
Cortes Food Bank dealing with big increase in clients, opts in to Virtual Food Drive

Cortes Food Bank dealing with big increase in clients, opts in to Virtual Food Drive

The Cortes Island Food Bank has seen a substantial increase in requests for food this fall, and volunteers managing the food bank expect that to continue. Fillepe Figuiera, coordinator and treasurer at the Cortes Food Bank, stated that they had 70 clients this October compared to the five clients this time last year, over ten times the amount. Food Banks Canada released the Hunger Count, a annual report on food bank usage. They showed a 32 per cent increase in food bank use nationally since last year and nearly an 80 per cent food bank usage since 2019, which is the largest year-over-year increase ever reported. “All those economic drivers that are causing people to need food and help are multiplied on the island; we’ve got precarious jobs, precarious housing, more expensive food, it’s inevitable that we’re going to be seeing that increase,” Figuiera stated. Figuiera also credits the Cortes Food Banks increase of clients to their improved outreach, where they increased their pickup dates from one day a month to four. “We’re doing a better job of reaching out to people. We’re doing a good job with Better at Home and other agencies on the island to reach people who might need help. So I think that’s what we’re seeing.” The Cortes Food Bank has launched a Virtual Food Drive in partnership with Food Banks BC to help with the demand. As of Nov. 14, the drive has raised over $9000. Go to cortesfoodbank.ca for more info. Listen below for more on our local food bank from Fillepe Figuiera on...