Comox Valley sewage issue pushed,  Arnott comments called “out to lunch”

Comox Valley sewage issue pushed, Arnott comments called “out to lunch”

Comox Mayor Russ Arnott adamantly opposes Area B representation on the sewage commission  /  George Le Masurier file photo

By George Le Masurier

Comox Mayor Russ Arnott feigned little knowledge this week of how the Comox Councillors that he appointed to the Comox Valley Regional District Board are voting, and why.

The only item on the Courtenay-Comox Sewage Commission Tuesday, Aug. 13, was a reconsideration of its “no decision” last month, a tie vote that technically defeated a motion to allow Area B representation on the commission.

This week, the commission, with CFB representative Major Guerard in attendance, delayed taking any action on the matter until after CVRD staff present their recommendations from a year-old study on how best to restructure the regional district’s water and sewer commissions.

But the issue launched Arnott off on an opening diatribe about why the board had sent the issue back to the commission.

“Why did they send it back?” Arnott asked. “We made a decision. What’s to say whatever decision we make today won’t come back. When does this end?

“I find it disrespectful, and it leads me to wonder where the integrity of the Town of Comox votes lay when we’re a paying member and (deference is shown) to a special interest group,” he said, referring to the Curtis Road Residents Association.

That caused Courtenay Director Wendy Morin to ask for a voting record of the CVRD Committee of the Whole, which comprises the full board.

“If I recall Comox directors voted to send it back,” she said.

Comox Director Ken Grant jumped in to say he could settle the question.

“Yes, Comox did vote to send it back. It was clear we (Comox directors) were going to lose the vote, so we voted in favour to deal with it here (at the sewage commission),” he said. “We were outmuscled.”

FURTHER READING:  Our archive of stories about the sewage commission

Comox is the outlier on this issue. There is support for Area B representation on the sewage commission from Courtenay and some of the electoral areas.

Comox has two directors on the CVRD board, while Courtenay has four and Cumberland and the three electoral areas each have 1. Weighting the votes based on population gives Courtenay 18 votes to 10 for Comox.

Pushing a decision on the issue didn’t sit well with the Curtis Road Residents Association, who have been battling with the regional district over noxious odours emanating from the Brent Road wastewater treatment plant since 1985.

Jenny Steel, the spokesperson for the residents, said the CVRD Board had ordered the commission to further consider the appointment of the Area B director as a non-voting member for a temporary period of time.

“The Commission today failed to follow that direction, there was no substantive discussion at all,” she told Decafnation. “ Instead, they decided to wait for Comox and Courtenay bureaucrats to come up with their “governance study” recommendations — without any input at all from Area B.”

Steel said “the writing is on the wall … Comox councillors will continue their vendetta against any voice for Area B at the table.”

The Curtis Road residents had requested that the Area B director be permitted to participate in the discussion at the Aug. 13 commission meeting, but Steel says the CVRD did not even acknowledge that request.

Steel said the CRRA would now seek out other avenues within the government to resolve their concerns.

“We will formally lodge complaints with the provincial Ombudsperson and the Inspector of Municipalities, as well as expand our outreach to the public and press,” she said. “We do not believe Comox commissioners have acted responsibly on this issue.”

Steel went on to say that Comox Mayor Arnott’s statement that there’s a good relationship with the Curtis Road Residents was “completely out to lunch.”

Area B Director Arzeena Hamir / file photo

“Since our first delegation in April there has been no commitment whatsoever to fix the odour problems or to improve governance moving forward,” she said. “In an earlier meeting, Comox reps had proposed that one of the existing commissioners be our voice at the table – clearly an admission that Area B does need a voice.

“However, they are dead set against that voice being Director Arzeena Hamir, our democratically elected representative. Go figure.”

Hamir told Decafnation that she’s extremely frustrated by the situation and that she feels for the Curtis Road residents.

“They have put so much time and energy into resolving their problem. They read the reports more intensely than some of the elected directors,” she said. “To have the issue punted back and forth (between the CVRD board and the sewage commission) is frustrating.”

Steel echoed that comment.

“It is indeed frustrating to go round in circles on what would seem such a straight-forward and reasonable request,” she said. “Until we get this resolved we have no choice but to continue with our delegations.”

They have several outstanding issues, including the location of a new holding pond, agreement on an odour standard and covering the bio-reactors, which cause most of the odour issues.

“A Good Neighbour Agreement between Area B and Comox/Courtenay is something we’ve been working on and will bring forward to the Commission soon for consideration,” she said.



Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More Latest Feature | sewage

Mistrust still evident between residents, sewage commission

Plagued by the odours of sewage from Courtenay and Comox residents for 34 years, the residents of Curtis Road returned to the regional sewage commission this week hoping for resolutions to their concerns, which they say now includes a threat to their drinking water wells and a visual blight on their neighborhood

“Stinking” sewage plant wafts back onto CVRD agenda

The Curtis Road Residents Association will press the Courtenay-Comox Sewage Commission again next week, this time on policy issues related to their decades-long battle to eliminate unpleasant odours from the system’s sewage treatment plant

Three new sewage conveyance routes short-listed for study by joint advisory committee

Less than a year after the Comox-Courtenay Sewer Commission abandoned its patchwork plan to prevent leakage from large pipes that run through the K’omoks estuary and along Point Holmes beaches, a new, comprehensive Liquid Waste Management Plan is emerging that considers climate change and moves the entire conveyance system onto an overland route.

Cumberland gets $5.7 million for sewage plant upgrade

Village of Cumberland sewage lagoons will soon get an upgrade  | Photo by George Le Masurier By George Le Masurier he Village of Cumberland is well on its way to completing an overdue upgrade to its wastewater...

Take a hike, see devastation in the Comox Lake watershed

Take a hike, see devastation in the Comox Lake watershed

A cut block on a hillside in the Comox Lake watershed  /  Pat Carl photos

By Pat Carl

When I first moved permanently to the Comox Valley, I met a man who knew the Valley well and many of its paths and trails, those well known and those obscure. He took people on hikes during which he shared his knowledge of the area. I often think of the gift he gave me and others.

One time, a group of us took a hike with him that started at the dam near Comox Lake and ended at Nymph Falls. As I recall, the area during that season was a beautiful and rich emerald green and smelled of softwood pine needles and sap. That was some 15 years ago.

I returned to the dam and lake last weekend with four others. All of us are members of Save Our Forests – Comox Valley, SOFT – CV for short. We were interested in seeing firsthand the extent of the timber harvest currently being conducted by TimberWest throughout the Comox Lake watershed, which is the source of drinking water for most of the Comox Valley.

We traveled some 15 kilometres around Comox Lake and up logging roads along the Cruickshank River, one of the many rivers and streams that feeds into the Lake.

Theoretically, we were prepared for the clear-cutting, but seeing it for ourselves brought home the amount of devastation. Cut block after cut block dotted the sides of steep hills and mountains and came within a hair’s breadth of the Cruickshank. We wondered aloud how TimberWest, with a straight face, could claim, as its website does, to be stewards of its lands that “respect cultural, economic and environmental values.”

I was also struck by the amount of waste that TimberWest’s “stewardship” creates. Weathered and newly created piles of slash waiting to be burned, thick wire ropes lying in the dirt alongside twisted and abandoned metal culverts, logging roads like bleeding veins cutting through the harvested areas, treeless exposed understory with its loose rocks and soil just waiting for a strong winter rain to send it down into the Cruickshank unimpeded, and trees, like the twisted rust-red arbutus beauties, caught up in the clear-cutting onslaught.

What beauty remains in the area is created by the hardwood trees which TimberWest doesn’t consider economically harvest-worthy. The dappling sunshine drifting through what little canopy remains brought to mind what it must have been like before TimberWest became the area’s owner with free rein to log right on top of the watershed that drains into Comox Lake, the source of Courtenay/Comox’s drinking water.

And you wonder why a new water treatment facility is planned for the Comox Valley, costing $126 million to construct and then an estimated $86 yearly operating cost to be shouldered by each Courtenay and Comox household for the next 25 years.

Want to see the devastation yourself? You’ll need to drive a 4×4 vehicle to naviagate the logging roads. And you will need to check TimberWest’s website for current accessibility restrictions. It’s their privately-owned land, after all.

But it’s our watershed and our drinking water.

Pat Carl is a frequent contributor to Decafnation and a participant in the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project. She can be reached at





High quality drinking water is produced by a healthy, properly functioning ecosystem. Clean water is the outcome of watershed-scale and riparian processes that capture, store and release water while simultaneously reducing or removing suspended sediments, bacteria, viruses, parasites and excess nutrients.

Protecting our drinking water requires two important steps: treating the water and protecting the source. The area of land that drains into Comox Lake is approximately 461 square kilometres, and the majority is privately owned. Much of the area is also K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) traditional territories. Balancing interests such as private ownership, traditional use, active logging, recreation, and hydroelectric power generation, while providing drinking water and sustaining critical fish and wildlife habitat, is a long-term endeavour.

Comox Valley Regional District website


Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More Environment | Latest Feature
The Week: Town of Comox parade denial was a petty ploy

The Week: Town of Comox parade denial was a petty ploy

Canada Day parade crowd in Courtenay, circa late 1970s  /  George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

Update: Courtenay Canada Day parade chairman Scott Mossing says “I can confirm that I have not received nor have any complaints regarding Mack Laing Heritage Society’s involvement in the July 1st Parade.”


Another week has come and gone and once again the Town of Comox has done something stupid. If it seems like The Week criticizes Mayor Russ Arnott and his gang a lot, it’s just because “the powers that be” at town hall can’t help making themselves a target.

This week, Mayor Russ Arnott called Nautical Days parade organizer Wendy Petrie and demanded that she revoke her approval of an application by the Mack Laing Heritage Society to appear in the Nautical Days parade. His justification: the “alarming” and “inappropriate behaviour” of MLHS in the Courtenay Canada Day parade.

After telling the Mack Laing society they were prohibited from being in the parade, Petrie later convinced Arnott to reverse his order and she rescinded the denial later in the week. She says the group is once again welcome in the parade.

But the MLHS says the rescinding order came too late and “some special participants and supporters … were not able to attend or assist, having made other arrangements. Given the restrictions placed on us, which are not listed in the official ‘Parade Guidelines’, we felt it best to cancel our appearance.”

Petrie told Decafnation in a telephone interview that the special restrictions — not to have petitions or hand out any negative paraphernalia with participants or spectators — apply to all political groups in the parade.

But there is something seriously “alarming” about this turn of events. Mayor Arnott has attempted to stifle the free expression of genuinely-held viewpoints that run contrary to his own. And it appears that he used his position to do so without Town Council support.

Could the mayor have committed a violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedom?

Were the other Comox councillors aware of his actions and do they support them?

Arnott’s personal feelings about the Mack Laing society also put Petrie, a dedicated volunteer who has organized the Comox parade four times in the past, in a difficult spot.  

FURTHER READING: Who is Mack Laing and what is this dispute about?

Petrie said she agonized over how to tell MLHS they could not participate in the parade. In the rejection email to MLHS on July 30 — eight days after approving their parade application — Petrie wrote that while “researching” the society’s “alarming behaviour” and after hearing “from many people how inappropriate your behaviour was” in the Courtenay Canada Day parade that the MLHS application had been denied entry into the town’s “family-oriented” parade.

What was this “alarming” and “inappropriate” behaviour that might threaten family values in Comox?

During the July 1 parade, MLHS supporters say they handed out a few tee-shirts and a bag with the society’s logo. They also carried a banner saying “Join us to preserve heritage” and signs that said “Mack Laing Matters” and “Keep the Trust.”

They were accompanied in walking the parade route by well-known local fiddler Jocie Brooks, the granddaughter of naturalist painter Alan Brooks, who was a close friend of Mack Laing.

Scary stuff, indeed.

It’s clear that the decision to exclude Mack Laing from this weekend’s parade was made after Arnott discovered the society had been approved. Petrie, in fact, freely admits that she didn’t make the decision to reverse her approval and deny entry. She agrees it was a raw deal.

In subsequent emails to MLHS, Petrie says, “I know I was looking forward to having you, but this was not my decision. I have to listen to the powers that be.” And, later she says, “I am as disappointed as you are.”

Mayor Russ Arnott’s actions — and/or whoever else conspired in this travesty — played petty politics.

Arnott doesn’t want the public to hear about Mack Laing. He doesn’t want the Mack Laing Heritage Society to generate any additional support for forcing the town to abide the terms of the famous naturalist’s trust agreement . He wants the Mack Laing debate to just go away.

So he kicks them out of a parade. Sounds like middle school.

But the “alarming and inappropriate behaviour” here is that an elected official would use his position to prevent the free expression of ideas. Mack Laing supporters have a different point of view from Arnott about the town’s action in regards to Mack Laing’s trust and the fate of his heritage home, called Shakesides. Thankfully, expressing differing points of view is still legal in this country.

An email sent to Arnott inviting him to explain his actions have not been answered. Petrie responded quickly with a phone call. 

On a related topic, the Comox Valley Record recently took a strong stand against anything in local parades except horse-drawn wagons, clowns, animals and bands.

In the editorial, Record editor Terry Farrell writes, “Put the fun back into parades, and for a change, leave the politicking at home.”

Farrell makes an exception for local elected officials, but doesn’t explain why. Maybe he classifies them as clowns or animals. They certainly don’t put any more fun in a parade than the real targets of his editorial: the Green Party and the Mack Laing Heritage Society.

And how do commercial vehicles offering nothing but their business names add to the fun in a parade? Farrell doesn’t mention them.

Besides the fuzzy argument that tries to distinguish between local politicians and federal or provincial ones, and between acceptable nonprofit organizations and not-acceptable ones (the ones he doesn’t like?), Farrell makes one point on which we can agree: Parades should be fun, not sombre events.

Parade participation or not, there is a federal election coming on Oct. 21, and the political parties have already started their pre-official election campaign campaigning. See the Election Countdown Timer on the Decafnation home page.

One of the interesting debates already occurring concerns the possible shifting of traditional NDP votes to the Green Party. Strong NDP advocates are all over social media slamming Green Party leader Elizabeth May in an attempt to discourage this shift. They have blasted her for, among other things, saying she might consider an alliance with Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives under certain circumstances.

But NDP stalwarts can relax because, according to Scheer, that’s not going to happen.

In an ad that keeps popping up on The Week’s Facebook page, Byron Horner, the Conservative candidate for Courtenay-Alberni, says don’t be fooled by the new Green Party slogan. “The Green Party is a Left-Wing Big Government party that would economically devastate Islanders who own a car or a home. Thinking about the Green Party? Read the fine print.”

It appears there will be at least one federal election all-candidates forum in the Comox Valley. Details to follow.



Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More Commentary | Latest Feature | News
Why parents worry: sexting, porn, abuse and no education when it’s most relevant

Why parents worry: sexting, porn, abuse and no education when it’s most relevant

Stock photo by Blake Barlow from Upsplash

By George Le Masurier

Third in a series examining the state of sexual health education in public schools

Comox Valley parents have led the BC movement for expanded sexual health education in public schools, and they have received wide support from both education officials and parents across the province.

But why has sexual health education become such an important topic? And why are parents focused on expanding the BC curriculum into grades 11 and 12, and insisting that it include components about the concept of ‘consent’ and online safety?

According to members of the District 71 Parents Advisory Council’s special committee on sexual health education, smartphones, social media and access to online pornography have created a crisis of sexual issues among our youth and in our schools.

“Teens in our schools are being sexually harassed on a regular basis. Boys they don’t even know, but who are friends of friends on social media send girls messages asking for nude pictures. It’s so constant that some girls are apprehensive about going to school out of fear of being asked for pictures,” Brooke Finlayson told Decafnation. “Deleting these requests and blocking the senders has become a part of their daily ritual.”

And the harassment doesn’t end with sexting. Denying these requests can lead to bullying. Complying leads to long-term humiliation. Once you hit send, you can never take it back.

Finlayson says it’s a scary new world for educators, teens and their parents.

“I’m not so worried about the creepy old guy down the block these days. I know how to deal with him,” Finlayson said. “I’m worried about the 14-year-old boy sexting my daughter, cyberbullying her or other ways of sexually harassing her.”

Online sexual harassment has become so prevalent, say Finlayson and Jenn Fisher, another member of the DPAC sexual health committee, that teens no longer report any but the most traumatic incidents.

And that is what worries District 71 Superintendent Dean Lindquist the most.

“I’m concerned about the iceberg rule,” Lindquist told Decafnation. “It’s what’s not reported to us, it’s what’s going on beneath the surface that worries me.”



A simple online search will bring up multiple cases of sexual harassment among teens.

Three boys in Kamloops charged with child pornography for distributing nude photos of girls without their consent, six students charged with sexual assault in Toronto, a Victoria girl charged with possession and distribution of child pornography for sexting nude photos of her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.

A recent University of Calgary study found that one in four teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have received sexually explicit texts or videos, one in seven have sent them and one in eight have forwarded ‘sexts’ on to other teens without consent.

And if it’s happening elsewhere, it’s happening here.

Wendy Morin, the co-founder of Comox Valley Girls Group and who leads weekly group discussions for teenage girls, who is also a Courtenay City Councillor, estimates that at least five percent of locally reported sexual assault cases occur on school property.

While most sexual assaults go unreported among teens, as well as in the adult population, the Courtenay RCMP have received a half-dozen reports in the last six months involving secondary school students.

In addition, Comox Valley Family Services also confirms it handles sex-related incidents not reported to the police, but that come through school counsellors, family members or the teenagers themselves.

Morin said teachers are usually unaware of trauma that may exist within students who skip classes. She said the students may not attend because of a sexual assault by a classmate and they can’t face that person in the same room.

“Too often a girl has to make accommodations for the situation, move out of class or a school,” she told Decafnation. “Usually (there is) no solid proof to discipline the boy and without blame (it) implies innocence … but the girl carries the burden forever.”

Jenn Fisher has knowledge of girls being pressured to send nude pictures or receiving nude pictures of male body parts, of 10-year-old girls trying to be cool and joining in text threads filled with racist, misogynist comments and of students creating “meme pages” on Instagram meant to represent teachers as well as students.

“Some teachers walk the school hallways with their head down out of fear of a picture showing up online of them unintentionally looking the wrong way,” she told Decafnation.

Just recently, the parents of a Highland school girl reported to the RCMP that someone had uploaded their daughter’s picture and personal information to a porn site without her knowledge or consent. She may not have been the only victim.

“The level of harassment in our schools indicates a lack of education and understanding about the ramifications of their (students) decisions,” Fisher told Decafnation. “We have a sexual health education deficit.”



Because many of the most serious and complex sexual harassment issues occur among older students, Comox Valley parents have pressed District 71 and the Ministry of Education to expand its sexual health curriculum into the schedules of grade 11 and 12 students.

At present, BC does not require sexual health education after Grade 10.

But, according to Statistics Canada, girls ages 15 to 17 report the highest rate of gender-based violence among all age groups, and McCreary Centre’s most recent BC Adolescent Health Survey (2018) reported that the rates of sexual abuse, dating violence and sexual harassment had increased from its previous survey five years ago.

It’s a decision that has confounded parents as well as sexual health experts like Jennifer Gibson, the coordinator of Community Education Services for Island Sexual Health.

“Research consistently tells us that as youth age, those who choose to be sexually active are more likely to do so within this age group. Yet, we withdraw formal opportunities to access this information at the same time … when the information has the most practical relevance to their lives,” Gibson told Decafnation.

“That to me (admitting my complete bias) is nonsensical,” she said.

To date, education administrators and trustees have defended the exclusion of grade 11 and 12 students based on higher academic pressures.

District 71 Superintendent Dean Lindquist says there’s no room in the schedule of grade 11 and 12 students. He says sexual health programs would have to be taught outside of regular school hours.

Janice Canton, chair of the District 71 Board of Trustees, agrees.

“At the moment, there are no plans to extend sexual health education at the grade 11 or 12 levels. The reality is that the majority of courses (for them) are electives in nature. That is student choice, so mandating a course more than likely would not work,” she told Decafnation on June 21.

But that argument doesn’t convince the professional sexual health educators.

“If the argument is that senior students have a large academic load, why not be creative in the delivery methods and integrate sexual health education into all areas of the education curriculum?” Gibson said. “Let’s look beyond the basic sexual health talk. There is no shortage of opportunities to include sexuality discussions in all topic areas.”

Kerri Isham, a sexual health educator and founder of Power Up Workshops, says the topic should be delivered in grades 11 and 12 “when youth are starting to be sexually active.”

“I have taught up to grade 12 in several of my schools in BC. This was negotiated at a school level with counsellors, teachers and principals in both public and private schools,” she told Decafnation. “It is a choice and a priority. Where there is a will, there is a way.”



In today’s digital world, most children have online access to explicit photographs and videos.

So parents have also asked District 71 and the BC Ministry of Education to add content “relating to the interplay between sexual health and technology,” according to a resolution proposed by Shannon Aldinger of the Ecole Puntledge Parks Elementary Parents Advisory Council and passed unanimously by all 42 of the province’s school districts attending a recent conference of parent groups.

The current curriculum doesn’t address technology or social media issues directly or comprehensively.

Dr. Claire Vanston, a sexual health education expert who has provided programming for District 71 for many years, contends that the average age of a child’s first exposure to online pornography is around 11 or 12. Canadian studies show that 90 percent of 14-year-old boys and 60 percent of same-aged girls had watched sexually explicit online materials.

Isabel McKinnon, the community-based victim service worker and coordinator of sexual assault for Comox Valley Family Services Association, says online pornography is an increasing factor and a deeper underlying issue in sexual harassment.

“Nobody wants to talk about that,” she told Decafnation. “But young men get the idea that this is how women want to be treated. It can be an addiction.”

Wendy Morin, who has 20 years of experience dealing with victims of sexual pressure, laments that porn is filling the gap in sexual health education.

“With pornography, kids hyperspeed through the normal sexual experience,” she told Decafnation. “It affects what they think is appropriate.”

The prevalence of smartphone and other devices in schools that connect to the Internet through the school’s wi-fi network have added to these issues for educators. In District 71, each school makes its own rules regarding phone and tablet usage.



Superintendent Lindquist says District 71 has to balance the views of parents advocating for more sexual health education with those of parents who want less.

“Not all parents agree on sexual health education,” Lindquist says.

However, in the SD71 Parent Advisory Council, 11 schools voted in favor or otherwise endorsed the Ecole Puntledge Park’s resolution for expanded sexual health education. Those schools were Airport Elementary, Arden Elementary, Aspen Elementary, Brooklyn Elementary, Cumberland Elementary, Highland Secondary, Huband Elementary, Mark Isfeld Secondary, Puntledge Elementary, Robb Road Elementary and Vanier Secondary.

And a recent School District 71 public survey asking for feedback on its five-year strategic plan elicited scores of request for more sexual health education and none for less of it.

Jennifer Gibson of Island Sexual Health says most parents want more.

“I have had the privilege of working with more than 100,000 youth, parents and educators and the vast majority overwhelmingly tell me how they want more opportunities to receive this information, not less,” she said.

District 71 School Trustee Sheila McDonnell says, “Ideally, sexual health education would be taught at home.”

“Yeah, but what if it isn’t,” she said. “Schools have to find a way to support it.”

Jenn Fisher agrees.

“Parents have a responsibility, for sure, but the school does too, to fill in the gaps. It’s a collaboration,” she said.

Ultimately, say Fisher and Finlayson, parents and the school district have the same goal: to keep our kids safe.

Finlayson says trustees and district administrators have to recognize that it isn’t the same world in today’s schools that they remember.

“When I was in school, stuff happened at the lake. Stuff happened at the beach. But there wasn’t any social media then,” she said.

Sexual assault was a quiet problem during her school years, she says, and 30 years later, the silence is still being held by young women. Social media has reinforced the silence due to the ramifications of reporting incidents of assault or harassment.

Wendy Morin sees the need for specific sexual health education aimed at boys. She points to programs like the White Ribbon Campaign and Project Respect that intervene to change male cultures.

“We need programs that teach impulse control and consent,” she said.

Next: How other districts and other provinces handle sexual health education










Here are nine facts about porn culture in high school today that everyone deserves to know whether you’re headed there soon, or you just lived through it yourself. If education is power in this fight for love, knowing what’s going down is the first step to fighting against it.



In Canada, a sexual assault is an assault committed in circumstances of a sexual nature, such that the sexual integrity of the victim is violated. This involves intentionally applying force to the victim, directly or indirectly, and without consent. 

Sexual activity without consent is always a crime, regardless of the age of the individual

Children under age 12 are never considered able to consent to sexual activity

Children 12 or older, but younger than 124, are deemed unable to consent to sexual acts except under specific circumstances involving sexual activity with their peers

Young persons 14 or older, but younger than 18, are protected from sexual exploitation and their consent is not valid if the person touching them for a sexual purpose is in a position of trust or authority over them, or if the young person is in a relationship of dependency with the person

It is not a defense to these crimes for the accused to say that he or she believed the younger person was older

It is recognized that adolescents, as part of their normal development, may engage in some sexual exploration. To allow for this, the law says that it is not a crime for two adolescents who are close in age to agree to sexual activity. The consent of both adolescents is essential.

In cases where the alleged victim is 12 or older but younger than 14, the defense that the victim consented to the sexual activity can therefore be raised by an adolescent accused of sexual abuse. The court can accept this defense if the accused is less than two years older than the victim and is not yet 16 years of age. However, the defense is not available if the accused is in a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim, or if the victim is in a relationship of dependency with the accused.

— BC Medical Journal


— McCreary BC Adolescent Health Survey (2018)



Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More Education | Latest Feature

How one former educator views new technology in schools

By Brent Reid While teaching journalism and information technology for several years in a networked computer environment with Internet and email access at every workstation, I learned a lot about how to use powerful, but potentially distracting, electronic devices to...

Smartphones in schools: a distraction or an enhancement?

Parents and educators face a new challenge in today’s schools: the pervasiveness of smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. Are they disruptive to student learning or an enhancement? Do they increase student safety or provide a new weapon for bullies? The...

Recess returns to CV schools

Recess has returned to the playgrounds of School District 71’s elementary schools as of February. That’s good news for children and teachers. But why the school district eliminated recess at the start of this school year and the reasons for reinstating it now aren’t...