Our Earth Day announcement: forgoing journalism to spend more time with family, nature

Our Earth Day announcement: forgoing journalism to spend more time with family, nature

Earth Day 2021 — It’s time to wake up and smell the flowers  |  George Le Masurier photo

Our Earth Day announcement: forgoing journalism to spend more time with family, nature

By George Le Masurier

Today is Earth Day. It’s a fitting time to explain the recent absence of new journalism projects on Decafnation and what to expect in the future.

For the past two months, I’ve been planting trees — 50 of them to be exact. Most are Cypress Leylandii that will provide a border of sorts for a small, natural forested area on our property that we’re trying to keep intact. But the list also includes apple and pear trees and other coniferous varieties, some bamboo and evergreen shrubs.

I’ve found this work pleasantly satisfying on many levels, and it has not left room for journalism. Doing the research for an in-depth series of articles is time-consuming and I never aspired for Decafnation to become a full-time endeavour. But the need for quality reporting here has been that dire.

Since 2016, Decafnation has tried to add some depth to the paper-thin reporting in the local Comox Valley newspaper and radio stations. We’ve focused our attention on stories like the seriously flawed 2014-15 plan to patch the sewer pipes serving mainly Courtenay and Comox and how local governments have and are still failing to address the negative effects of dumping toxic stormwater into our waterways.

We uncovered the botched planning of the new Comox Valley Hospital and the ongoing travesty of the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s myopic plan to reduce onsite health care services in the North Island.

We shone a bright light on the out-of-control Economic Development Society.

We went deep during the 2018 local government elections and endorsed progressive candidates that brought noticeable change to Courtenay, the regional district and Cumberland, but not to Comox.

We have championed a call for the Town of Comox to reconcile its moral and legal obligations to their trust agreement with Hamilton Mack Laing. We explored the need for improved sexual health education in District 71 schools. And we’ve written about interesting people such as Father Charles Brandt, Dr Jonathan Page and more.

But we won’t be doing those types of stories any more.

During this last year, we’ve abided by the provincial health orders to stay home and that has meant not seeing our children or grandchildren. This has created not just a longing for family, but also the realization that being well into the seventh decade of life, our time is short. How to use what’s left of it has become a priority.

We will still publish commentary on important issues and plan to play an active role in the 2022 local government elections. And we’ll try to accommodate people and organizations who want to submit articles for publication here, so you will still see an email newsletter from us every so often.

But for now, the woodpecker working on the fallen tree in our mini-forest is calling me back outside.

 

DO WE STILL NEED EARTH DAY?

Millions of people participated in a first-ever annual grassroots demonstration 51 years ago on April 22 to raise awareness about environmental concerns. They called it Earth Day.

At the time, in 1970, the message focused on saving the whales and cleaning the trash out of rivers. The public service announcements of the era featured an American Indian saddened to find garbage in a once-pristine river full of fish and a cute owl that said, “Give a hoot – don’t pollute.”

Then everyone went home and squirted chlorofluorocarbons inside their ovens and into their hair, which eventually ate holes in our atmosphere’s ozone layer. We turned on electrical lights powered by coal. We clear cut forests. We dumped the toxic rainwater washing over polluted streets and parking lots into our waterways that killed the fish and, we now know, is also killing the whales.

The sorry list goes on and on. There was so much we didn’t know then about how we were degrading the Earth.

The popular adage “Reuse-Recycle-Reduce” that every elementary student knows so well today was a foreign concept when Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, was considered a radical. Nelson’s genius was to capture the youthful anti-Vietnam War energy and shift it to environmental causes.

Today, our knowledge of how human activity has pushed irreversible climate change to the brink and threatens our own existence has increased a thousand-fold since 1970. So do we still need an Earth Day?

Unfortunately, yes, we do more than ever.

Even though we have made great strides toward reducing some of the ways humans harm Earth’s life-sustaining ecosystem, the really hard work lies ahead. Reducing the number of carbon emissions necessary to head off a catastrophic future of unbearable heat and diminished clean water will require a global effort and a common purpose.

But here we are, a half-century since Gaylord Nelson rang the environmental alarm bell, and considering the big picture, not much has changed. Humankind has not united and acted with urgency. Our economic system based on everlasting growth won’t allow it.

Some experts believe it is too late to reverse the effects of climate change and that humans must now learn to adapt in order to survive.

In his review of a new book, Earth 2020: An insider’s guide to a rapidly changing planet, Dr. Loys Maingon, a Comox Valley naturalist and biologist, writes:

“This is not a really optimistic book. Nor should it be. The realism laid out by climatologist Tapio Schneider in his essay “Climate 1970-2020” is exemplary. He pulls no punches and makes it clear to the reader that there will be none of the quick fixes that politicians promise, or have been promising for the past four decades.

“Schneider makes the case that we have shut doors and burnt bridges. We have reached a turning point from which there is now no going back. We will need to adapt. As Schneider point out, “Mitigation was the focus of 1992.” 28 years on, the mitigation bridge is burnt down.

“We need to confront severe changes, because “limiting global warming to 2C above industrial levels will be extremely challenging, if not impossible.”

So, yes, we still need a day to celebrate the progress we have made and to create awareness of the unimaginable challenges that lie ahead. And, by the way, the whales are still in danger.

 

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The Week: Take our local government survey!

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The Week: Doing it right on the wrong side of town, CVRD gets a good result for wrong reasons

The Week: Doing it right on the wrong side of town, CVRD gets a good result for wrong reasons

The Week: Doing it right on the wrong side of town, CVRD gets a good result for wrong reasons

By George Le Masurier

As voters and taxpayers, we hope our elected officials always do the right thing for the right reasons.

The Comox Valley Regional District did the right thing last week by terminating its contract with the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS). But they did it for the wrong reasons.

The Economic Development Society was a poorly run service that clothed itself in secrecy, reported to no one but a few self-appointed friends and spent a lot of money for questionable community benefit. And in doing so, the society managed to disappoint, frustrate and antagonize broad sectors of the Comox Valley community.

That was the right reason to terminate this contract.

Hornby and Denman islands and the Village of Cumberland pulled their financial support for the CVEDS service many years ago because those taxpaying elected officials realized how little value they were getting for their money.

Regional directors from Courtenay and Areas A and B might have gotten there, too, but they were making a good faith effort to transform CVEDS into a modern and more relevant organization through — for the first time ever — serious oversight.

But the CVEDS contract was not terminated for its obvious lack of performance. It wasn’t terminated because it had lost its way many years ago by spending almost a third of its budget on a seafood festival that added nothing to the economic sustainability of local businesses beyond a slight uptick in restaurant reservations.

The society’s contract wasn’t terminated because it often claimed responsibility for things on which it actually had minimal impact. It wasn’t terminated because the society shunned accountability or that it failed to comply with requirements under the Societies Act. Or that it had trouble managing its money.

No, the regional district terminated the CVEDS contract because Comox council members objected to increased oversight and scrutiny. Comox councillors didn’t like the regional board setting goals for the society that targeted current problems, such as affordable housing for low-wage employees and familys’ access to child care.

Comox Councillor Ken Grant summed it up when he lectured Courtenay Councillor Wendy Morin about how elected officials should manage arms-length societies.

“That’s the thing about the independent governance model, you don’t get to tell them how to do their business. That’s been the problem from day one,” Grant said at the Feb. 9 regional board meeting.

Grant couldn’t have been more wrong.

When a local government creates an organization — as the regional district did by forming CVEDS in 1988 — that exists only because it receives more than $1 million in public funds annually, then the elected officials absolutely get to say what they want for their money. In fact, taxpayers expect their elected officials to set the big picture goals and to hold people accountable for achieving them.

Grant was right about one thing. The independent governance model has been the problem from day one. Day one being back in 1988. Since then the society has happily taken the public’s $1 million-plus every year and did whatever it wanted with the money. Past elected officials didn’t seem to care what they did.

What is truly amazing is that this bad example of political oversight took so long to blow up.

 

But don’t celebrate just yet

Just because the contract for economic development services gets voided later this year doesn’t mean Comox Valley taxpayers are off the hook.

The regional district wrote CVEDS a $400,000 check in January. That’s one-half of its 2021 funding. The expectation is that the society will continue to fulfil the majority of their 2021 work plan items, including the ones the Town of Comox finds so distasteful.

But, of course, the regional district has no means of ensuring that all or even most of the work will get done satisfactorily. What recourse does the CVRD have? The contract will terminate on Aug. 26 whether the work gets done or not.

The second half of the $800,000 CVEDS 2021 budget is scheduled for July. Will they automatically get another $400,000 for their last two months? Not necessarily, according to CVRD Chief Administration Officer Russell Dyson.

“CVEDS has various commitments in place to deliver services for economic development, tourism and visitors services, and destination marketing. The termination notice provides service to CVEDS for eight of the 12 months in 2021, therefore the second payment for 2021 will consider any adjustments to annual allocation for this adjustment, noting that some costs are annual whether the contract is terminated part way through the year,” he told Decafnation via email.

Dyson confirmed that the regional district would not be responsible for any severance pay for CVEDS employees because they are not CVRD employees.

But Comox Valley taxpayers might become responsible for the Visitors Centre, which some people call the “drum” building and others call the White Elephant.

According to Dyson, “Upon the wind up of CVEDS, the net assets after payment of liabilities is transferred to CVRD and the participant member municipalities. The ongoing ownership and operation of the Visitors Centre will be a key consideration of the service participants in determining future service priorities.”

Dyson says the CVRD and municipal partners will be meeting and working with CVEDS staff the next few months to “encourage” that the work plan priorities are delivered and to encourage a smooth transition to a future service delivery determined through the service review.

“The second payment amount will be determined through this collaborative work over the next few months,” he said.

 

So what will rise from the ashes of CVEDS?

How will local governments provide destination marketing, handle visitor services, manage the hotel tax money and encourage economic vibrancy?

Given that Cumberland and the islands are doing just fine managing their own economic prosperity in-house — as most other communities on Vancouver Island already do — the ideal scenario now is that Courtenay and Comox will hire their own economic development officers.

The CVRD should also hire an economic officer to focus on the three electoral areas because it’s too easy for the rural areas’ needs to be overshadowed by the municipalities. They may all feel strongly about food security, but there are different projects that need to take place in different areas.

Then all four of the Valley’s economic development officers can meet monthly to share information and work together where it’s possible.

Meanwhile, all local governments should agree to share the contract for destination marketing and visitor services to Tourism Vancouver Island (about $260,000 per year). The City of Courtenay economic development officer should have input to Tourism Vancouver Island about how local MRDT funds are spent because all of that money comes from the city.

 

Every community’s needs will evolve over time

But no matter how our elected officials propose to meet those needs, they must always favour transparency and accountability and ensure their objectives are being met without favouritism and for the benefit of the greatest number of people.

 

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The Week: Take our local government survey!

Are you satisfied with the performance of your Comox Valley elected officials? In 20 months and three weeks, voters will go to the polls again. So we’re curious how Decafnation readers feel about their councillors, mayors, directors and school trustees halfway through their current terms in office

The Week: The heart of our survey is in the comments, not the hard numerical data

The Week: The heart of our survey is in the comments, not the hard numerical data

Are local government satisfaction ratings rising or falling in the Comox Valley? It depends on where you live  |  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: The heart of our survey is in the comments, not the hard numerical data

By George Le Masurier

We published the results of our Local Government Performance Review this week and it created lots of buzz for those who follow local politics. Most people don’t, of course, unless the politicians do something to tick them off, like raise taxes, or do something really good, like reduce taxes.

The majority of people only get excited about local politics when an election comes around. So, being closer to the next election than the last one, we wondered how satisfied people were with their elected officials.

And, boy, did they tell us. It would be an understatement to say there were a lot of strong opinions expressed in the survey comments.

But here’s something to keep in mind about this survey. It wasn’t a random sampling of the Comox Valley population, at least not in the sense of a poll by Agnus Reid or Gallup.

If it had been, then our sample size of 314 respondents would have had a 4.65 percent margin of error with 90 percent probability that the sample accurately reflected the attitudes of the whole Comox Valley.

But we broke our survey down so that only people who identified as voting in Courtenay, for example, could rate their level of satisfaction with city councillors. It was the same for all jurisdictions.

And the respondents to our survey self-selected to participate. Many, perhaps most, may be regular Decafnation readers, although the sample was only a percentage of our subscriber base.

So the Local Government Performance Review was designed to be qualitative research, not quantitative. It was meant to describe the reasoning and motivations behind respondents satisfaction ratings, rather predict anything based on the hard numerical data.

So do not look at this survey and conclude that if an election were held tomorrow, Daniel Arbour would get 89 percent of the vote in Area A or that only 24 percent of voters in Comox would choose Russ Arnott for mayor.

But the survey does highlight the difference in attitudes between jurisdictions, and here the numbers and the comments intersect.

Most respondents in Courtenay and Areas A and B like how their elected officials have performed and the comments explain why. Respondents were not happy in Comox or Area C and here the comments were even more pointed and passionate.

By reading the comments, you gain an understanding of why the respondents approved or disapproved of their local government and politicians.

The last civic election in 2018 brought transformative change to the Comox Valley when voters elected more progressive-mined people in Courtenay and Electoral Areas A and B. This altered the conversation in those areas and, as a result, also at the important regional district board table.

And so far, at least, there’s an indication that this survey’s respondents are satisfied with that.

 

A farmer who leases some of the Courtenay Flats from Duck Unlimited fears that an expansion of the Highway 19A bypass will negatively impact his roadside farm stand business. Nobody wants to choose between farmland and more roads.

But the possibility of widening the highway bypass shouldn’t surprise anyone. It was planned decades ago.

The City of Courtenay and the Ministry of Transportation have been seeking a solution to growing congestion at the 17th Street bridge. Two years ago, a consultant working with the city on its Transportation Master Plan, suggested a bridge at 21st Street and set off fire alarms in diverse segments of the community.

A bridge at that location would have cut through the heart of the Courtenay Airpark and forced the facility to close. It would have connected on the other side of the river into the heart of the Kus-kus-sum and derailed a joint city and KFN reconciliation project.

The city never intended a bridge at 21st and deleted the overreaching consultant’s bad idea. But a serious conversation ensued about a third crossing and the city’s limited options and alternatives.

Among the most promising short-term solutions was raised by Dan Bowen, a former Highways Ministry employee.

The primary problem, he said then, is that there are two northbound lanes of traffic approaching the bridge from the south on Cliffe Avenue and two lanes on the bridge. But whether you turn north or south, you have to merge down to one lane.

It’s the same approach to the bridge from the north on the Island Highway bypass, which is two lanes at Superstore, but merges down to one lane at the bridge.

Bowen believes there should be four lanes of traffic approaching the 17th Street bridge, across the bridge and then all the way to the Shell gas station at the old Island Highway and also part way toward Comox.

The long-term solution, he said, is to twin the 17th Street bridge. The highways ministry purchased extra land on the northside of 17th Street east of Cliffe Avenue to anticipate a widened bridge. That land looks like a park with cherry trees.

The ministry also designed the bypass for four lanes, which is why the shoulders are extra wide through the S-turns.

We don’t know what the ministry surveyors were doing when they alarmed the Courtenay Flats farmer, but it’s possible they were gathering new data about expanding the bypass into four lanes.

As Bowen said, that was the plan from the beginning but the province opted for a half-measure. It should have put four lanes in right away. It would have been less expensive in the long run and farmers and farm stands could have developed as they did, just in a slightly different location.

 

Anyone else a little disturbed that the U.S. is vaccinating about 1.7 million people per day while nearly three months after vaccines became available, Canada still hasn’t vaccinated that many in total?

And Canadians can’t tell whether the Trudeau government screwed up its negotiations for vaccine supplies or if the drug companies screwed us because Ottawa has kept the deal a secret.

 

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The Week: Take our local government survey!

Are you satisfied with the performance of your Comox Valley elected officials? In 20 months and three weeks, voters will go to the polls again. So we’re curious how Decafnation readers feel about their councillors, mayors, directors and school trustees halfway through their current terms in office

The Week: How sorry are you for people pleading “trapped” in Arizona or Mexico?

The Week: How sorry are you for people pleading “trapped” in Arizona or Mexico?

George Le Masurier photo

The Week: How sorry are you for people pleading “trapped” in Arizona or Mexico?

By George Le Masurier

Thanks to all those who completed the survey and participated in Decafnation’s first-ever Local Government Performance Review.

The survey will close Saturday night and we’ll start analyzing the results. We plan to publish our story about the survey next week with appropriate charts and graphs.

The idea behind the survey was to check in on the community’s level of satisfaction roughly midway through our elected officials’ terms in office. Having an indication of whether people are satisfied or not might give some the confidence to keep doing what they’re doing and cause others to rethink their strategies.

LAST CHANCE to participate in the survey. Do it now

Based on the 2018 election, it’s possible that by this time next year candidates will start declaring their intention to seek re-election or to unseat incumbents.

 

It’s interesting to see former Credit Union manager Rick Kellow reigniting his political activism in the Comox Valley. Back in 1992 when Kellow ran for Comox Town Council he said his policy was “to boldly step where no one has gone before.” It was almost a quote from Star Wars.

Kellow’s bold step was to say that councillors (called aldermen, then) should stop bickering and face hard facts, including the high cost of a park on Comox Hill and the futility of trying to keep the town “a village by the sea.”

 

How sorry are you for the folks who, despite almost everyone in the entire universe telling them not to travel out of the country, went to Mexico or Palm Desert anyway? If you’re like me, the answer is, “I’m not.”

The Times-Colonist, the conservative Victoria newspaper, has been giving a voice to people who feel entitled to ignore the recommendations of Canada’s top Medical Health Officer and the Prime Minister. And now they’re running stories about people “trapped” in sunny places like Arizona.

Yesterday, the T-C gave top-of-the-page billing to a Parksville couple who want an exemption from paying $2,000 to quarantine in a hotel while awaiting results of a COVID test. Ray and Joanne Moschuk said they should be exempt because Arizona “is our home.”

Their home? Ray might want to be careful about that because if he’s claiming residence in Arizona, he’ll lose his BC Medical Services Plan.

Moschuk also questioned Canada’s legal right to penalize its own citizens. I’m guessing that’s a long shot, but just in case he’s right I’m digging up the amount I paid for those speeding tickets 25 years ago.

So many people have made sacrifices — serious sacrifices — during this pandemic in order to obey the recommendations of Dr Bonnie Henry and Dr Tam. They didn’t travel. They haven’t hugged grandchildren. They didn’t have a family Christmas dinner.

They make the Moschuk’s look like a pair of spoiled brats.

Just for some warmer weather, they travelled to a country with the third-worst infection rate in the world, where more than 120,000 new cases occur every day, and now they complain about taking a test on their return?

Recently the T-C also published a long, rambling op-ed by the Fraser Institute’s Gwyn Morgan that urged people to defy the Prime Minister and travel internationally. Along the way, he disparaged jobless CERB recipients and accused them of cheating the system.

Then, in a separate column, the newspaper’s editor and publisher, Dave Obee, defended his decision to run the irresponsible column.

Apparently, the Times-Colonist has muddled the concept of we’re all in this together and pulling in the same direction to defeat a common enemy.

 

We all hope that someday someone will find a clever way for the whole world to willingly reduce its collective carbon emissions and save the human race from extinguishing itself.

But based on the level of thinking in Alberta, don’t make any bets.

The province’s United Conservative government is determined to increase coal mining in the Rocky Mountains. That in itself is mind-boggling. Worldwide coal production declined 14 percent in recent years and the US has cut coal-fired electricity generation by 40 percent.

And it gets worse.

Alberta’s elected leaders say they have enacted “strict regulatory standards,” but in reality have scrapped monitoring two rivers and a creek that have already shown high levels of selenium, a toxic byproduct of coal mining operations.

And the town of High River has asked the United Conservative government to stop coal exploration in their area.

Is there no other economic hope for Albertans than to be the eager suppliers to the world’s last remaining climate-destroying power plants? They’re going to be the pusher that delivers the last spike into the atmospheric vein?

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The Week: Take our local government survey!

Are you satisfied with the performance of your Comox Valley elected officials? In 20 months and three weeks, voters will go to the polls again. So we’re curious how Decafnation readers feel about their councillors, mayors, directors and school trustees halfway through their current terms in office

The Week: We focus on how our money is spent and Wildwood: a model for Shakesides

The Week: We focus on how our money is spent and Wildwood: a model for Shakesides

A new study shows when nobody is watching, the cost of government goes up  |  Photo by Thomas Charters, Unsplash

The Week: We focus on how our money is spent and Wildwood: a model for Shakesides

By George Le Masurier

Decafnation has always given a special focus on coverage of local government in order to keep elected officials and the staff they direct accountable to the public. Because a democracy works best in broad daylight and part of our mission is to make sure the sun is always shining.

Filling out our local government satisfaction survey is one way for you to help. Another way is to read the story and browse the charts we published this week about municipal finances.

Our goal was to present some key information in an easy-to-find format. We waded through hundreds of pages of Annual Reports and Statements of Financial Information so you wouldn’t have to.

Have you taken five minutes to fill out our Local Government Performance Review? Why not do it right now?

We’ll update these charts and republish them as soon as the 2020 information becomes available later this year. In the meantime, we’re going to improve the charts with some suggestions from readers. 

You don’t have to be a numbers-nerd to take an interest in municipal finances. You just have to care how your tax money is being spent.

 

An interesting study showed that when a local newspaper closes, the cost of government increases. A professor of finance at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business researched whether there was a direct line between “the loss of watchful eyes of local newspapers” and a decline in government efficiency.

You can read the study here, but here’s a spoiler alert: when nobody’s watching the cost of government goes up.

 

The story of the preservation and restoration of Merv Wilkinson’s Wildwood property by a small charitable society provides an excellent model for the Town of Comox. It shows how, with local government and community support, volunteers can turn something that was left to deteriorate into a bright community asset.

The small Victoria-based Ecoforestry Institute Society restoration of Wildwood’s abandoned forest acreage and homestead was achieved by a group of people who refused to let Wilkinson’s legacy die. They fought for the property and won a court victory.

With a strong business plan, they marshalled volunteers willing to do hands-on work and attracted donations, grants and support from the Regional District of Nanaimo. And through their passion, they delivered a success.

The small Mack Laing Heritage Society faces similar obstacles: a property abandoned and in disrepair and a legal battle. But they too have refused to let Laing’s legacy die. They too have a business plan, public support and a long list of volunteers ready to transform Shakesides into Laing’s vision.

What the Laing society doesn’t have is local government support. In fact, local government is their main obstacle.

The Town of Comox long ago turned its back on Mack Laing, misused his financial generosity and ignored his important place in Comox history. And now the current Comox Councillors want to drive the final stake through Laing’s memory.

But an open-minded examination of the Wildwood model for success could lead to a more positive outcome because Wildwood answers a key question that has plagued some Comox Councillors: how to fulfil Mack Laing’s Trust Agreement in a self-sustaining way.

Wildwood does more than pay for itself and the society’s $450,000 mortgage. It funnels money back into the economy of the Regional District of Nanaimo. It creates jobs and adds an internationally popular tourist destination to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith area’s list of popular attractions.

People come to tour Wildwood’s sustainable forest and to enjoy a stay in an environment far away from their urban daily lives. People would come to tour Mack Laing’s little sanctuary for birds, trails, Brooklyn Creek and Comox Bay and for overnight respites surrounded by nature.

 

It’s an interesting aside that when the tiny Ecoforestry Institute Society plunged into a legal battle to win control of Wildwood, they turned to Victoria Lawyer Patrick Canning. So, it’s not a coincidence that Canning is now working with the Mack Laing Heritage Society.

 

The old saying that “timing is everything” plays an important part in all of our lives and so it was for Mack Laing.

The Comox Valley Lands Trust didn’t exist in the late 1970s or even in 1982 when Laing died. If it had, he surely would have left his property with a covenant held by the Lands Trust to ensure his Trust Agreement was fulfilled.

Nor did Laing have knowledge of Trust Deeds, such as the Ecoforest Institute Society has on the Wildwood property. The Trust Deed ensures that Wildwood can never be sold to a private interest and it also defines the charitable purpose under which the property must be operated.

In other words, future Wildwood boards of directors cannot just decide to clear cut the whole thing and rake in the money. Wildwood must always be operated as an ecoforest, always within ecological boundaries.

Put in Shakesides’ terms, future councils could not have just decided to tear down his house and pour a concrete slab. Shakesides would have had to be always operated as the natural history museum that Laing envisioned.

 

The Comox Youth Climate Council has started a petition that urges local government to purchase the 3L Developments property in the Puntledge Triangle and for the City of Courtenay not to annex these lands. The petition states:

“This petition is a call to action to our elected leaders, from the CVRD and beyond, to refuse intimidation from 3L Developments or development proponents and to do the right thing to protect Stotan Falls in the long-term. We urge you to do your best to purchase the Puntledge Triangle lands and riverbed and to continue to create a network of regional parks along the Puntledge River. These purchases will contribute to increasing our social and recreational capital while also protecting our natural assets. Preserving nature not only offers many benefits to our health and wellbeing, but it also increases our resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss.”

 

General Motors announced this week that it will no longer build gas-guzzlers after 2035. The company plans to be carbon-neutral in 20 years.

GM said in its announcement that, “The days of the internal combustion engine are numbered.”

The company will sell only vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions starting in 15 years, a seismic shift by one of the world’s largest automakers that makes billions of dollars today from gas-guzzling pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

Surely this will put pressure on automakers around the world to make similar commitments and embolden elected officials like Prime Minister Trudeau to push for even more aggressive policies to fight climate change: Read, abandon the TMX pipeline. 

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The Week: Take our local government survey!

Are you satisfied with the performance of your Comox Valley elected officials? In 20 months and three weeks, voters will go to the polls again. So we’re curious how Decafnation readers feel about their councillors, mayors, directors and school trustees halfway through their current terms in office

The Week: Take our local government survey!

The Week: Take our local government survey!

How are they doing down at the Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland, CVRD and District 71 town halls?  |  Archive photo

The Week: Take our local government survey!

By George Le Masurier

Are you satisfied with the performance of your elected officials? In less than two years — 20 months and three weeks to be exact — Comox Valley voters will again elect representatives to local municipal councils, the regional district and the District 71 school board.

We have just passed the middle of our sitting elected officials’ current terms.

And if the 2018 election is any reliable indicator, some candidates will start their campaigns for the Oct. 15, 2022 election around this time next year.

So how have our elected officials performed over the last two-plus years? What have they done well and what have they not done so well? What are the issues each council and board should address in the last half of their terms?

We’re curious about how Decafnation readers would answer those questions.

This week, Decafnation is launching its first-ever Local Government Performance Review. It’s a short survey that asks readers to rank their satisfaction with the elected officials who represent them and to specify the issues they should tackle before the 2022 election.

Readers will also have the ability to make brief comments about their rating of each councillor, director or trustee. The comments are a key part of the survey because they will help explain your responses.

It is an anonymous survey. Share it widely.

 

On the Decafnation Facebook page a few weeks ago, we asked for help from anyone experienced in building online surveys. We got lucky when Kelly Kostuik volunteered.

Kelly is a professional engineer with an MBA degree. She moved to the Comox Valley from Calgary with his family five years ago and now works as an independent consultant. That leaves him time for mountain biking, skiing, paddling, volunteering, learning new stuff and “checking things off my bucket list.”

Although he hadn’t used the Survey Monkey platform before, Kelly quickly became a whiz. He built the survey and the analytics behind it in just a few days.

 

The deep disagreements over the future of the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (EDS) will be aired starting today, Jan. 19. But not publicly.

The mayors of Courtenay and Comox, regional electoral area directors and their chief administrative officers are scheduled to begin the process of formally reviewing the regional economic development function. The review was requested by the Town of Comox.

The regional district board had already decided after last fall’s two-day special session to plot a new course for the EDS over the next year. But the Town of Comox couldn’t wait, so they triggered this formalized session allowed for under the Local Government Act.

Why did they do that? We might never know because none of the review meetings will be held in open session.

That means the public will be barred from hearing why Comox initiated the review, what their grievances are and what our public officials discuss behind these closed doors.

However, the small review group cannot make any final decisions. Whatever courses of action emerge from the review will ultimately have to be approved by individual councils. And that will be public.

Among the multiple possible outcomes from the review, the Town of Comox could serve notice of its intention to withdraw from the function as Cumberland did about five years ago. If that happens the EDS will likely collapse, leaving Courtenay and the three rural electoral areas to figure out what might rise from the ashes.

 

The Comox Youth Climate Council held their first-ever annual general meeting Saturday via Zoom. About 30 people participated, including some observers from over the maximum membership age of 25.

The CYCC is a group of dedicated Comox Valley high school, college and university students, “persistent in striving for climate action.”

The group formed last October “as a result of our feeling of responsibility and dedication to do our part fighting the climate crisis to safeguard the future of our planet and its inhabitants. Our vision is to create a space for youth aged from 13 to 25 years old from a diversity of backgrounds to come together to work for social and climate justice in the Comox Valley.”

Kalea Richardson was elected the group’s new chair after a spirited campaign speech. Although her opponent, Will Hatch, scored points for his willingness to collaborate and his praise for Richardson — “She would make a great chair…” — he fell a few votes short. Hatch will serve as treasurer of the group.

 

 

 

 

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