Area A candidates meet with Royston voters

Area A candidates meet with Royston voters

Candidates Daniel Arbour and Jim Elliott positions seem similiar

By Norm Prince

Area A candidates Daniel Arbour and Jim Elliott are on a four stop tour of the Comox Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) Area A, with scheduled meetings in Denman Island, Royston, Hornby Island and ending up at the Union Bay Hall at 7:00 pm on Oct.15.

Saturday’s Royston meeting had over 50 citizens in attendance, giving up part of their sunny afternoon to listen to and question both candidates. There was a twist to this all candidates affair, the moderator was ill, and there was no one willing to take his place, so both candidates were running the show, alternating recognizing questions from the floor.

From the opening statements, two things became apparent, especially if you read the responses to Decafnations’ questions to Rural Directors. Elliott has been busy with research and has answers to those questions he wasn’t able to respond to in the survey, and there are very few differences in their positions on many of the issues. That was pointed out more than once from members of the audience trying to decide who to support on Election Day, Oct. 20.

While many of the questions raised were specific to Area A, there were some Regional wide issues raised for candidate’s positions.

Development in the Comox Valley was raised more than once, both candidates supported the CVRD’s decision around the development at Stotan Falls, with both calling for developers to be paying the bills on the necessary infrastructure, and not passing those costs off to the local citizens.

Elliott said that in “all his years working for the CVRD, he never saw taxes go down after a new development went ahead.” Around the same issue, both called for the protection of watersheds, though they did have different approaches, Arbour would spend the time working with Island Timberland, moving them toward no logging in regulated areas, while Elliott indicated that the CVRD should write bylaws to protect the watersheds.That seemed to be Elliott’s line in the sand, watersheds need to be protected, and if necessary, he’d stand in front of logging equipment to insure the protection of those areas.

P3 projects were raised as part of the failed referendum over a sewer system to replace the septic fields that populate all the communities in Area A. Neither of them supported the concept, but indicated that the CVRD should work with the Union Bay developers to expand their sewer service, and should continue to work with the K’ómoks First Nation in the development of their Area A properties.

Again, the positions were very similar, and both agreed that there had to be a reasonable costed solution for the sewer system. Neither one of them wanted to see the sewer outfall in Baynes Sound.

Open burning and wood stoves were also raised as problems, and while both agreed that there had to be some changes, neither one called for a ban on wood stoves. Both agreed there had to be curb side pickup of garden waste to control the yard burning, both admitted that they had to conduct further research around the issue of industrial burning.

On the issue of residential wood burning, they both supported the replacement program in place, and felt that through education and retrofitting older homes, there would be less wood stoves in use. Both referred to replacement programs, but were thin on details.

Both Elliott and Arbour wanted to see the Island Corridor protected, with options to develop as a trail system for both pedestrians and bicycles. Though Arbour didn’t rule out a rail option in the future as the Island’s population grows.

Plastic pollution in Baynes Sound was raised, and here the positions were somewhat different to get the same result. Elliott was very clear that the shellfish industry had to take responsibility for the pollution, and if they didn’t, the CVRD should bring in Bylaws forcing them to take responsibility for the clean up. Arbour looked at the problem as “a canary in a coal mine” and if we didn’t take care of the Sound, we’d lose those shellfish jobs. He’d work with the industry and First Nations through the CVRD.

Problems with the new hospital were raised, but both of them indicated that they didn’t have the expertise to come up with a solution without more research.

As the meeting wrapped up, both candidates were pushed to come up with some differences in their approaches. Both had just outlined how they’d organize at the grass roots level to listen to their constituent’s concerns.

Arbour pointed out his success on Hornby Island, and Elliott, his experience stick-handling the water agreement in Union Bay. They outlined the difference as being one of approach to the issue, with Arbour saying he always looked for ways to bring people together,” and had to “be pushed really hard” to lose that focus. Elliott’s approach was more to taking a stand, persuading the group to his position. Consensus waters down the solution to any problem.

Lasting almost 90 minutes, the meeting ended on a sour note.

Members of the audience raised the issue of negative statements being sent via emails and statements by door knocking supporters of candidates. Both candidates quickly supported each other, indicating that any messages sent out would be signed by them, and from their accounts. Both stated that they couldn’t control what others said, but anything they organized hadn’t focussed on any negative statements about the other candidate.

Norm Prince lives in Royston and a contributor to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project.

What are these guys so afraid of?

What are these guys so afraid of?

Opponents of electoral reform are afraid of losing their power

By Pat Carl

At Courtenay’s recent Downtown Market Days, I was out in the crowd talking with various people about proportional representation and handing them a half-page information sheet.

Some people stopped to talk. They wanted more information.

Others walked right by and said they had already made up their minds. That’s fine.

Still others saw me coming and changed their destination enough to avoid me. That’s fine, too.

Several people told me they don’t vote, never have, never will. Not fine, though a symptom, I think, of what’s wrong with our electoral system.

But, almost to a person, everyone I spoke with was respectful, tolerant, and polite in that way that defines us as Canadians.

Notice that I said “almost.”

One older fellow came up to me and said, “It’s all a set-up. A few crazies holding the rest of us hostage.”

His comment felt like a drive-by since he walked away without giving me the chance to respond. But he came back almost immediately, his face red, his arms wind-milling, his voice growing louder as he became more apoplectic. “What we have works and is fine and this whole thing is just a waste of time and money.”

Although not a big man, the level of his frustration and anger surprised me enough that I back-pedaled away from him.

Thankfully, he stomped off then, muttering to himself.

As I watched him go, I thought about the full-page anti-PR ads, the meanspirited commentaries, and the manipulative language and examples designed by the individuals, organizations, and, yes, the BC Liberal Party in their attempts to activate some of the public’s worst fears and biases.

We have individuals like Jim Shepard, the wealthy tycoon and former CEO of forestry giant, Canfor, who recently spent big bucks running full-page anti-PR ads in BC publications, both large and small. In the ads he asserts that the referendum lacks legitimacy because it’s too complex and confusing for people to understand. A person who reads the referendum sees just how ridiculous this claim is.

British Columbians are quite capable of understanding these questions. Perhaps Shepard is implying we’re slow on the up-take.

We have organizations like the No BC Proportional Representation Society headed by Bill Tieleman, Suzanne Anton, and Bob Plecas. Both Plecas and Anton are apt to entone their mantra repeatedly that the current system is simple, stable and effective, so, they assert, there’s no reason to change to a proportional one. Tieleman’s mantra is that proportional representation will lead to the rise of his favourite bogeyman, fringe parties.

These Gang of Three are master manipulators of a human cognitive glitch called the illusionary truth effect. Repeat lies or half truths often enough and the public will believe them. Think about how this works south of Canada’s border and you’ll get the idea.

We have a party, the Liberal Party, so thoroughly opposed to proportional representation that Andrew Wilkinson, now the Liberal Party’s leader, made clear reference to defeating it in his leadership acceptance speech back in February. If anything, the Liberals are bracing for all-out war, as one columnist called it, in its desperate bid to defeat electoral reform.

All this, despite the Attorney General having built a fail-safe provision into the electoral referendum. On page 7 of the AG’s report, How We Vote, it states:

If the result of the 2018 referendum is the adoption of a proportional representation voting system, a second referendum [shall] be held, after two provincial general elections in which the proportional representation voting system is used, [to determine] whether to keep that voting system or revert to the First Past the Post voting system.

That’s right, a do-over.

With that in their back pockets, I ask, “What are these guys so afraid of?”

The answer, in a nutshell – they’re afraid of losing power.

They’re afraid that lobbying efforts, so long the method most used by the wealthy and corporations to get their way, will be less effective and cost a great deal more in both time and money when they must lobby coalition governments.

They’re afraid that a government that actually reflects the majority of voters will make it more difficult for special interests to have unfettered access to the public purse.

They’re afraid that they will have to actually convince at least one other party of the wisdom of their policy direction.

They’re afraid that voters will vote for who actually represents them and their values.

They’re afraid that the will of the many will win out over the greed of a few.

Pat Carol is a member of Fair Vote Comox Valley and a Citizen Journalist for The Civic Journalism Project. She may be contacted at patcarl0808@gmail.com

 

BREAKING: 3L development vote today

BREAKING: 3L development vote today

Stotan Falls developer tries end run around Regional Growth Strategy

PHOTO: 3L Developments convinced the Comox Valley Record last fall to publish the developers’ opinion article on its front page. It was a breach of journalistic integrity for which the newspaper’s publisher later apologized.

 

By GRANT GORDON

At 4 p.m. today, July 10, the Comox Valley Regional District Committee of the Whole will hear a presentation by 3L Developments to try get their RiverWood proposal classified as a minor amendment to the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). Regional district staff have recommended that the 3L proposal be a standard (major) amendment.

If two-thirds of the board’s members vote to override the staff recommendation then their proposal moves ahead to third reading where this inappropriate development could actually come to pass quite easily due to the overwhelming presence of developers’ influence on CVRD board members.

So in case you missed it, a minor amendment classification would allow changing the zoning from ‘two houses per 20 hectares (50 Acres)” over some 400 acres, or 16 total houses, to 740 houses over the same area.

If this proposed amendment doesn’t pass, then 3L’s Riverwood proposal continues ahead as a Standard (Major) Amendment requiring the approval of the all the parties that were part and parcel to approving the RGS Document in the first place: the Provincial Government, the surrounding regional districts, the CV Regional District, local Municipalities and seven First Nations.

Section 5.2 of the Regional Growth Strategy Bylaw # 120, 2010 clearly states that this kind of development in rural areas is well above and beyond all the principals that would constitute a minor amendment: (Pages 108 – 110)

The location is outside of the municipal areas where 90 percent of all growth is to occur and even further out than the reserved ‘municipal expansion’ areas withheld for further growth.

The location is beyond areas with municipal services where water and sewer can be expeditiously supplied.

The location sits astride wildlife corridors where large and small ungulates and carnivores can physically get passed the fenced Inland Island Highway on their way to their prime feeding areas within the Puntledge and Browns rivers and on the dairy farms east of the highway. That’s bears on fish and cougars on deer respectively.

The RGS clearly states that a minor amendment: ” … is not to be of regional significance in terms of scale, impacts or precedence; Contributes to achieving the goals and objectives set out in Part 3; (Regional Policies); and, Contributes to achieving the general principals contained in the growth management strategy Part 4. (Managing Growth) … ”

In my opinion . . . Larry Jangula is for it. Bruce Joliffe (Area A) is against it. Manos Theos is for it. Rod Nichol (Area B) is against it. Erik Eriksson is for it. Curtis Scoville (Area C alt) against. Ken Grant is for it. Gwyn Sproule, Barbara Price and Bob Wells are unknown.

If you think that a 740-house development in an area that has already been excluded from the Urban Sacrifice Zones (Municipal Expansion Areas), with 1,480 vehicles, 740 plus cats and 740 plus dogs and multiple children situated on major game paths is not going to be a major change in the way things have been worked out in the Regional Growth Strategy, then your vision of the Comox Valley is quite a bit different that mine. It is also quite a bit different than the Regional Growth Strategy as interpreted by the CVRD’s planning and legal departments.

Please contact your local representatives to let them know how you feel about this attempt to change the intended Regional Growth Strategy by allowing this proposal to be downgraded to minor amendment status against the wishes of the general public that put so much into developing the RGS and the CVRD staff that are tasked with implementing and overseeing it.

There will be a normal Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at the Comox Valley Regional District Board room.

Then the COW will reconvene a second meeting to discuss this 3L proposal, which goes against the staff recommendation.

Grant Gordon submitted this for publication as part of Decafnation’s Civic Journalism Project.

 

Challenging a colonial Inheritance

Challenging a colonial Inheritance

Giving First Nations a stronger legislative voice by electoral reform

By PAT CARL

Usually I like to write about my successes as a teacher. But sometimes it’s healthy to confess failures. So, here goes.

Bless me, readers, for I have sinned.

While instructing at North Island College in Courtenay, I was assigned to teach English 115, which is a basic composition class that all first-year students must take. The English Department encouraged instructors to create themes for those classes.

During one such class, I thought it might be a good idea to follow the advice of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I provided an opportunity for students to think about the way First Nations people have been portrayed in dominant literature and cinema and to consider alternative views from a First Nations perspective.

Now, if I had to describe myself, I’d have to say I’m a chubby white girl, mostly Irish, a fallen-away Catholic, raised middle-class, a social-justice liberal, an environmentalist, a gardener, a sometimes-writer and a lesbian.

Do you see anything in that list that qualifies me by any stretch of the imagination to conduct a class about the biases prevalent in literature and film regarding First Nations, never mind present an alternative view from a First Nations perspective?

That’s right. Nope, nada, nothing.

In retrospect, I realize it was unwise to address such an ambitious theme without consulting and collaborating with at least one First Nations elder at the college.

And that’s the rub. However well-intentioned, too often white Euro-Canadians have decided for First Nations what’s best for them. Think residential schools. Think the Indian Act. Think of all the recent decisions made by Canada’s federal and provincial governments regarding pipelines and the building of dams.

Unlike Canada, other countries, at least recently, have managed to engage more respectfully with Indigenous peoples.

For example, look at the Maori Party in New Zealand.

When the Maori Party helped to form government, it introduced traditional approaches to New Zealand’s social services and child welfare systems; the party influenced government expenditures that targeted poverty abatement and the elimination of homelessness; the party improved the delivery of education among Maori youth; the party defended and expanded treaty rights; the party secured monies targeting the environment in order to improve Indigenous lands; and the party worked to place the delivery of the Maori language and culture in the hands of Maoris.

To be clear, all of these Maori political achievements were accomplished since proportional representation replaced first-past-the-post as that country’s voting system. While New Zealand provides a federal example, there’s nothing that limits that example from being applied provincially in BC. The New Zealand example shows how a proportional electoral system can be a change-maker for Indigenous peoples that first-past-the-post doesn’t provide.

And there I go again.

It’s so easy for privileged people like me to forget that, even with the best examples at hand, like those offered by the Maori in New Zealand, it’s not up to me to decide. It’s not up to me even to suggest.

With that in mind, let’s consider How We Vote: 2018 Electoral Reform Referendum, the report and recommendations which was released on May 30 by Attorney General David Eby. And let’s consider specifically the results of a survey conducted among an admittedly small number of Indigenous leaders and youth as well as among members of two Bands. The survey results are documented in Addendum I, “Indigenous BC Elections Referendum Survey Results.”

Of the 132 respondents to the survey, “73 percent do not feel that Indigenous voices are currently adequately represented in the Legislative Assembly” in Victoria. Additionally, First Nations leadership called for “designated Indigenous representation in the Legislature.”

Further, more than half of all respondents to the survey want “better representation of groups that are currently under-represented in the Legislative Assembly.” Another 38 percent want members of the Legislature to “cooperate to make decisions,” and a total of 81 percent want a spirit of greater compromise to inform Legislative decision-making.

All of these assertions are overlaid by 81 percent of respondents who either strongly agree or agree that a “greater diversity of views” should echo throughout the halls of provincial governance.

Most telling are the narrative comments made by 20 of the respondents at the end of the survey.

Some were concerned about how MLAs and parties receive funding from corporate and wealthy interests, which causes legislators to be unduly influenced by the privileged one percent rather than being concerned about the interests of their constituents.

Others were concerned about how little attention the legislature pays to ensuring that Indigenous peoples, especially those in remote locations, have easy access to the polls.

But, what struck me the most were the multiple respondents who believe that First Nations need to be included in the Legislative Assembly as MLAs. This may require, as some suggest, the establishment of First Nations’ Legislative Assembly set-aside seats. Additionally, respondents assert that the Indigenous people who occupy those seats be selected by Band members in transparent elections.

A system of voting that represents the will of people, a system that provides a way for making sure everyone can vote, and a system that finally hears the voices of the most excluded voters in Canada.

Sounds like support for the principles of proportional representation to me.

Pat Carl is a member of Fair Vote Comox Valley and a Citizen Journalist for The Civic Journalism Project. She may be contacted at patcarl0808@gmail.com

 

Only safe source will curb overdose crisis

Only safe source will curb overdose crisis

Courtenay parents, nurse petition Ottawa for system to prevent opioid deaths

BY SHANYN SIMCOE

Over 7,000 Canadians died of opioid overdose in 2016 and 2017. Courtenay parents John and Jennifer Hedican’s eldest son, Ryan, was one of them.

He was 26-years-old and a third-year electrician. He had completed eight months of recovery, returned to work, experienced a relapse, and was found unresponsive on his job site in Vancouver during a lunch break on April 24th, 2017.

Relapse is a normal and anticipated stage of the recovery process and the Hedicans believe that if he had access to a safe source of narcotics, Ryan would not have died by fentanyl-poisoning that day.

In Ryan’s honour, the Hedicans have partnered with me to author a petition to the House of Commons demanding that a system be created to ensure a safe source of substances so that people who use drugs experimentally, recreationally or chronically, are not at imminent risk of death due to a contaminated source.

FURTHER READING: How could this happen?

The Hedicans and I believe that access to a safe, regulated and monitored source is the only solution to prevent overdose and fentanyl-poisoning deaths.

We are astounded at the lack of aggressive action by our federal government in response to such devastating, preventable and continuing loss. We are asking Canadians to join their call to action by signing the petition and pressuring their MPs to demand that our prime minister and government make the policy changes needed to save lives now.

We recently held a signature drive in downtown Courtenay, Campbell River and Cumberland, collecting 781 new signatures.

We are also asking that personal possession be decriminalized to reduce the stigma resulting from the criminalization of substance use. They want our government to adopt a model similar to that used in Portugal, which treats problematic substance use as a health, rather than criminal justice issue. Fear of stigma and punishment currently prevents people from accessing health care services and treatment.

The third ask is that the opioid crisis be declared a national public health emergency.

The number of preventable overdose deaths to date has far surpassed the total number of deaths of all other public health emergencies in the last 20 years including SARS, H1N1, and Ebola, yet the crisis has not achieved national emergency status. Despite the expansion of the Take Home Naloxone program and the establishment of Overdose Prevention Sites, approximately four people die each day from opioid overdoses due to fentanyl-poisoned sources.

Males aged 19-49 are at the highest risk. Sixty-three percent of overdose deaths occurring in private residences. 120 Canadians are dying every month, each one a child, sibling, spouse, parent, colleague, client, friend.

Our online petition has over 2,100 signatures and many paper versions have been mailed in.

FURTHER READING: Sign the online petition here.

MP Gord Johns tabled the petition in the House of Commons for the first time before the summer sitting. You can see his speech here

The online petition closes July 25th and the government is required to respond within 45 days. This petition has recently been endorsed by the British Columbia Nurses’ Union.

Shanyn Simcoe is a Comox Valley nurse activist. She wrote this article for the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project. She can be reached at shanyn.simcoe@gmail.com