An alternate reality: Clark pumps PR

An alternate reality: Clark pumps PR

Christy Clark supported PR in 2009 CKNW broadcast

By PAT CARL AND MEL McLACHLAN 

Upon winning the BC Liberal leadership, Andrew Wilkinson, a long-time party fixture, lost little time in reminding his people that the party’s most important goal is the defeat of proportional representation in the upcoming provincial referendum.

While Liberal opposition to proportional representation is no secret, there is a BC Liberal insider whose thoughts regarding proportional representation they probably wish didn’t exist in the public domain. But they do exist, and the words are from none other than Christy Clark.

Yes, you read that right. Clark articulates a thoughtful, informed case for changing our voting system and, at the same time, levels a powerful indictment against the politicians who are fighting tooth and nail to keep first past the post.

FURTHER READING: Listen to Clark’s 2009 broadcast

In this rather confessional 2009 CKNW radio broadcast, Clark, who at the time was not in politics, admits, that while in the Gordon Campbell government, she avidly supported first past the post because it worked for her, was in her own interest. She confides, though, that since she has “left politics my views have changed,” mainly because she hears from her CKNW listeners who are “sick to death of the way our political system works.”

She agrees with listeners’ grievances, which include having their votes “thrown in the garbage,” politicians who “ignore what their constituents want” and an “relentless vitriolic” war of words during question period that “poisons us all against our democratic process.”

Clark’s indictment of those who fight against proportional representation is stark:

“When I look at the people who are actively campaigning against [proportional representation]” I see “people whose interests and, in many cases, whose income is dependent on keeping our system the way it is. People who … relish the ugly realities of the first past the post system.”

Clark believes that electoral reform actually frightens them.

Clark continues by saying that in proportional representation, all politicians will need “to compete for all of your votes,” they’ll need “to listen to their communities first and their leaders and their parties second,” and that voters can choose a representative they “think is the smartest, the one you think is most ethical.”

Further, according to Clark, “all politicians will have an incentive to get along,” which means a return to “civility in politics.”

Listening to this broadcast for the first time is like stumbling into an alternate universe. Certainly, not the same old, same old Liberal position.

We never thought we would say this: Listen to Clark, and vote for proportional representation.

Pat Carl and Mel McLachlan are members of Fair Vote Comox Valley

FURTHER READING: Fair vote BC; 

 

 

Is Site C a Done Deal?

Is Site C a Done Deal?

Dam opponents share concerns at a Comox Valley town hall meeting

PHOTO: Arlene Boon,on the Boon’s farm in the family for three generations, points out the proposed flood line if Site C dam goes ahead. Note the yellow stakes, raising funds for the First Nations’ court challenge. Photo by Sally Gellard

 

BY SALLY GELLARD

Last Friday evening 150 people gathered at the K’omox First Nation Band Hall for a powerful inspiring evening of speakers who proved that the fight to save the Peace River Valley is far from over.

The attentive audience heard from Ken Boon, farmer and member of the Peace Valley Landowners Association; Steve Gray, Site C Summit co-chair; and Wendy Holm, agronomist.

All three speakers explained why Site C is a boondoggle.

Boondoogle, a word rarely used before Site C, is defined as “unnecessary, wasteful and often counterproductive.” It is also a leather cord worn by Boy Scouts. There is no mistaking which definition Rafe Mair refered to in his latest book, “Politically Incorrect,” published shortly after his death in 2017.

“Site C, perhaps the most monstrous of them all, because we have the opportunity with a new provincial government to rid ourselves of this massive destruction of farmland and desecration of First Nations heritage in order to build a dam to provide power we don’t need, to customers we don’t have, just to satisfy the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark/Fraser Institute-inspired mad energy philosophy. The cost of this giant boondoggle to date has been massive, the environmental damage gross,” he wrote.

That about sums up all the significant arguments against Site C, with the exception of the geotechnical issues, the soaring cost over-runs, the massive debt and land destruction we are leaving for future generations and the exciting new advances in alternative energy sources emerging globally which we, in BC, are not investing in.

Without a change of heart by our provincial government, we look for hope to the Moberly Lake and Prophet River First Nations as they go to the courts to defend their homeland, their way of life, their historical and sacred sites and the recognition of Treaty 8 and the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples.

As well, two new books emerge this month in the fight to save the Peace.

“Breaching The Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro,” written by Sarah Cox, award-winning journalist; and, “Damming The Peace: The Hidden Costs of Site C Dam,” edited by Wendy Holm.

Both these books will be “a powerful resource for the resistance to the travesty called Site C,” says Maude Barlow.

There’s lots we can do to stop this boondoggle.

Donate funds for the First Nations court challenge at www.stakeforthepeace.

Locally we are holding monthly Stand For the Peace vigils in front of our MLAs office on Fifth Street in Courtenay, on the 11th of each month, the anniversary of the announcement by a sour-faced premier on Dec. 11, 2017.

Sally Gellard, a Comox Valley resident, wrote this article for Decafnation. For more information about how to get involved, she may be contacted at sallygel@gmail.com.

Water bottling project raises aquifer concerns

Water bottling project raises aquifer concerns

This article has been updated to include a statement from NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard.

 

There’s a new water controversy bubbling up in the Comox Valley, and once again the province has dumped another problem on local elected officials.

The B.C. government has approved a controversial groundwater licence for a water extraction and bottling operation on a two hectare property on Sackville Road in the Merville area. They did it despite a strong objection from the Comox Valley Regional District and without public consultation or regard for community concerns.

“The province does this all the time,” said Area B Director Rod Nichol. “We have to clean up the mess and look like the bad guys.”

Nichol compared the water extraction issue to the recent Raven Coal Mine battle and myriad less high-profile issues, such as highway development.

About 200 people attended the CVRD’s Electoral Areas Services Committee meeting Monday (March 5) to protest and urge the CVRD to deny the water extraction applicants a necessary zoning change. The property is current zoned rural residential and would need to be zoned light industrial.

 
FURTHER READING: CVRD Staff Report

 

Instead, the committee unanimously endorsed a staff recommendation to refer the rezoning application to various agencies, CVRD committees and K’omoks First Nations. The intent is to build a baseline of data about the source of water (aquifer 408) and how a water bottling operation might impact agriculture and other existing users and potential long-term effects on the surrounding watershed.

NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard emailed this statement to Decafnation:

“I can understand the concerns of Merville residents, as water is a precious resource for any community. My understanding is the ministry performed a detailed technical review of the proposal and noted no concerns about aquifer capacity. I’ve also been reassured that existing well users would get priority in a drought. The project still needs CVRD zoning approval though, and as the local MLA I will be monitoring the situation closely.”

The applicants

Christopher Scott MacKenzie told the committee that he originally drilled a well for domestic purposes. But after his wife, Regula Heynck, insisted on testing and discovering the water had high pH levels (alkaline), the couple envisioned a viable family business.

MacKenzie claimed the alkaline water has health benefits and is “something the community needs … it’s really unique”

A protester disrupted MacKenzie with concerns about how neighbors’ drinking supplies might go dry. He replied that dry wells would be “hit and miss,” and that people “would just have to understand it.”

 

FURTHER READING: Alkaline water: beneficial or bogus?; Quackwatch

 

MacKenzie and Heynck have recently moved to the Valley from Ringenberg, Germany, and took out a building permit to locate a $14,613 mobile home on the property.

MacKenzie is the son of the late Keith MacKenzie, who served as president of the Courtenay Fish and Game Club after retiring as carpentry foreman from Candian Forces Base, Comox. His tours of duty included a stop in Germany.

The core issue

The province has already approved a groundwater licence that enables MacKenzie/Heynck to extract 10,000 litres per day or 3.65 million litres per year. But the CVRD must approve a rezoning application to permit “water and beverage bottling” as a principal use on the property.

Alana Mullaly, the CVRD manager of planning services, said the province has jurisdiction on what happens below grade. The CVRD has jurisdiction over what can happen above grade.

She said denying the rezoning application would not cancel the provincial groundwater license.

Without a zoning change, MacKenzie/Heynck cannot conduct water bottling operations as the principal use of the property.

But it’s unclear whether a denial of the rezoning application would mean only that they could not construct a bottling facility on the property or that they could not operate a commercial enterprise from the property even without a physical structure.

The CVRD opposed the water extraction application made to Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) on the basis that it was inconsistent with the Rural Comox Valley Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 337, 2014, and the zoning bylaw.

There are environmentally sensitive areas surrounding the property, including many farms and Agricultural Land Reserve areas that rely on groundwater.

Area C Director Edwin Grieve warned that aquifers eventually get pumped down and he wondered what effect that would have on the water supply for nearby farms. He noted that climate changes have caused Portuguese Creek to dry up in the summer.

Grieve said the applicant deserved due process and that the gathering of more information is important.

But Grieve also said earlier that “we could save the applicant a lot of time and money and deny it now.”

What’s next

CVRD staff will refer the rezoning application to a number of agencies, First Nations and its own relevant committees. Not date was set for staff to report to the CVRD board.

If the application passes through the Area C Advisory Planning Commission, then the CVRD would hold public hearings.

In the meantime, people can express their views on the proposal to Tanya Dunlop, senior authorizations technologist, at tanya.dunlop@gov.bc.ca.

 

Courtenay tackles wood stoves

Courtenay tackles wood stoves

Will Comox, Cumberland, CVRD join the party?

By Rebecca Lennox

This resolution passed unanimously at yesterday at council. As I look back over the year, I am grateful that I had the honour of being your voice on council and I look forward to almost another year in that seat.

It is hard sometimes to know if I am doing the right thing, as there are so many huge issues facing us, but I do my best and that is all anyone can do in life.

Thank you to everyone who takes the time to be engaged in their community and to all of you who make the Comox Valley the wonderful place it is. Best wishes for 2018.

Rebecca Lennox is a member of the Courtenay City Council. She may be reached at rlennox@courtenay.ca

Resolution

It is well documented that poor Comox Valley air quality continues to be a major issue for residents of the City of Courtenay, not to mention the associated health concerns. The problem is most acute during the winter months.

Our provincial government has enacted more stringent regulations concerning wood burning appliances sold in B.C. as well as clearly identified the types of fuel that can be burned in those appliances, all in an effort to reduce pollution.

The City has worked in partnership with the Regional District to improve air quality with programs such as the Wood Stove Exchange Program as well as public education.

To date, 71 applications have been received for rebates to update wood appliances to the new code, but sadly only 4 of those applications are from Courtenay residents.

It is clear that the City needs to take further action, therefore I am proposing the following resolution:

“WHEREAS
1) Wood burning appliances are a popular means of home heating in the City of Courtenay;

2) The City of Courtenay is identified as one of the top ten BC communities for PM2.5 level pollution, that is fine particulate matter that can be inhaled deep into the lung;

3) Studies have proven that there is a direct correlation between PM2.5 pollution and serious health conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, lung and heart disease, not to mention the impact on other serious health conditions. Children and older adults are most at risk but no one is immune;

4) A recent study conducted by Health Canada not only here in the Courtenay/Comox area, but also Kamloops and Prince George has found a direct correlation between elevated levels of PM2.5 from wood burning to hospital admissions for heart attacks; and

5) According to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, advanced wood burning appliances compared to older, uncertified appliances can:

-reduce toxic emissions by as much as 55%,

-reduce PM2.5 emissions by as much as 70%

-increase energy efficiency by at least 70%

-use 30-50% less firewood;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Council direct staff to implement the following measures to reduce City air pollution with the objective of protecting the health of our residents, including:

1) implementation of a two year program to bring all wood burning appliances within the City in compliance with current federal CSA and provincial certifications and emissions standards;

2) provide those residents who can demonstrate that upgrading their current wood burning appliance to a modern, cleaner and more efficient appliance would present an undue financial hardship with financial assistance in the form of an interest free loan from the City to enable them to update their appliance;

3) effective immediately, homes sold with wood burning appliances within the City of Courtenay will be required to confirm that the appliance conforms to the latest federal and provincial government certifications and emissions standards or replace the appliance with a compliant model;

4) create and implement municipal regulations and guidelines outlining the types of fuels allowed to be burned within the City of Courtenay; and

5) advocate with the Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland and the Comox Valley Regional District to adopt similar regulations.

Ruth Masters — environmentalist

Ruth Masters — environmentalist

Editor’s Note: This obituary was submitted by the family

Ruth Jessie Masters was a war veteran, avid hiker, historian, naturalist, environmentalist, protester but maybe most importantly she was one of ours – born and raised in the Comox Valley. She was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Comox on May 7, 1920. She passed away peacefully at the new North Island Hospital in Courtenay on November 7, 2017. She was 97 years old.  

Ruth lived almost her entire life in her own home, which she built on her parents’ property in Courtenay. She served in the Canadian Air Force as a clerk in England during World War II and was promoted to Sergeant. In Courtenay she worked as a legal secretary from 1952 until 1992. Ruth was an avid hiker throughout most of her life. She made her first hike up Mt. Becher with her family in 1933 when she was just 13 and five years later climbed Comox Glacier and became one of the first members of the Comox District Mountaineering Club.

Ruth was a dedicated local historian. She never forgot her time spent oversees during the War and she never forgot the many who did not return. She spent countless hours researching names on the local Cairn and then lobbied the provincial government to name lakes and mountains in the area for many of the soldiers who served in both the first and second world wars. Her detailed compendium, “Lest We Forget” is on display in the Courtenay Museum

Ruth also compiled other local history books that are on display at the Courtenay and Cumberland Museums – ‘Courtenay’, ‘Forbidden Plateau’, and ‘Ginger Goodwin’, each one leather-bound and engraved by Ruth. They are all probably best thought of as loving gifts from Ruth to the people of the Comox Valley. 

Ruth was an environmentalist before the word was invented. She was passionate about the need to protect wildlife and the natural world.  She always spoke up for those without a voice and always fought to protect the natural beauty of her homeland, especially Strathcona Park and the Comox Valley.

Ruth was known to put her body between bears and trophy hunters. She was on the beaches in Tofino in 1989 to clean up after the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill. She carved up road-kill and drove them in her little red truck to wildlife rescue centres for food in both Parksville and the Comox Valley.

She could always be counted on to help out with blockades, protests and rallies to protect the environment.  When mining threatened Strathcona Park she blew “Oh Canada” on her faithful harmonica at almost every arrest during the three-month standoff at Buttle Lake in the middle of the winter in 1988. She was a ‘master’ sign-maker, making directional signs for alpine trails and protest signs for her numerous causes.

Working side by side with her good friend Melda Buchanan around 1990, Ruth played a key role in lobbying to add forestland to Seal Bay Park.  On a rainy, windy day in December 1994, along with Carol Neufeld and Fran Johnson, Ruth put her body in front of chainsaws to protect the trees in what we now all take for granted as MacDonald Wood Park in Comox.  She donated 18 acres of her own land in Courtenay for the Masters Greenway and Wildlife Corridor

Ruth ‘walked her talk’ and that is why so many remember her.  She set an example for all of us for how to live on the Earth and leave it in better shape.  Growing up ‘church-mouse poor’, as she would say, she always lived a modest life but was generous to a fault, giving to environmental organizations, wildlife protection groups, the SPCA, the NDP and many, many more.

Ruth was predeceased by her father, William Edward Masters, her mother Jessie Smith, and her only brother Bill. She is survived by her nephew James Edward Masters, distant relatives in Victoria and Ontario, and her God-daughter Lorrainne Dixon. 

Lorrainne was tasked with making health care decisions in Ruth’s declining years and did an admirable job. Ruth was always firm that she wanted to live out her final years in her own home.  As her health declined this was not always easy but Lorrainne held firm in respecting Ruth’s wishes and ensuring that Ruth was safe in her home.

Although she had few living relatives, Ruth built a huge family around her in the Comox Valley and in her declining years a small inner circle of that family helped Ruth stay in her own home.

Thanks must also be expressed to Ruth’s primary care giver – Yolanda Corke. Yolanda was Ruth’s daily lifeline, checking on her early each morning and afternoon and calling on volunteers when extra help was needed. More than anyone Yolanda provided the day-to-day care that allowed Ruth to remain in her home in her final years.  Yolanda was at Ruth’s side when she passed away in hospital. 

There will be a Celebration of Life for Ruth from 1 pm to 4:30 pm on Sunday December 10 at the Florence Filberg Centre – Conference Hall in Courtenay at 411 Anderton Avenue. Doors will open at 12:30. Donations may be made to the Ruth Masters Hero Spoon Award online at foundation.nic.bc.ca or by mail to North Island College Foundation, 2300 Ryan Road, Courtenay, BC, V9N 8N6, or to a charity of your choice.

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Curious about Civic journalism? — Decafnation wants you!

Curious about Civic journalism? — Decafnation wants you!

Decafnation is seeking a dozen people passionate about civic engagement and the importance of an informed electorate.

In just over 12 months, Comox Valley voters will elect people to manage the affairs of Courtenay, Cumberland, Comox and the three unincorporated areas of the regional district, School District 71 and other municipal positions.

The community is best served if voters choose based on an understanding of important community issues, and an equally thorough knowledge of how each candidate proposes to address these issues for the common good.

To do our part, Decafnation hopes to collaborate with a number of people willing to serve voluntarily as Civic Journalists.

Over the next 12 months, these public journalists will investigate the Comox Valley’s most critical issues and report on them in-depth. And we’ll shine the same bright lights on the candidates who seek municipal office, and ultimately endorse a preferred slate of candidates.

If you’re passionate about the Comox Valley community and want to contribute to public understanding leading up to the 2018 fall elections, then contact Decafnation.

The only requirement is a serious interest in civic politics or some specific issue vital to the future livability of the Comox Valley.

How to contact Decafnation:
Email: george@decafnation.net
Text: 250-218-2496
Leave a message on our Facebook page or in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

What happens next:
After you express interest, we’ll meet to discuss this Civic Journalism project in general, and your individual interests in particular.