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!

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Free webinar lectures on herring and the protection of natural shorelines in the Salish Sea

Free webinar lectures on herring and the protection of natural shorelines in the Salish Sea

Herring fishing near Denman and Hornby island in the 1980s  | Bob Cain photo

Free webinar lectures on herring and the protection of natural shorelines in the Salish Sea

By Guest Writer

The demise of the Salish Sea’s unique population of our resident killer whales confirms what biologists increasingly recognize: that the Salish Sea is “a collapsed ecosystem.”

The food chains that support the chinook salmon populations on which orcas depend have been largely driven to extinction through the destruction of beaches and estuaries that support forage fish on which chinook depend as well as through overfishing.

In keeping with its educational and civic mandate Comox Valley Nature presents a week-long series of five (5) free public lectures on the state, importance and protection of natural green shorelines for herring and forage fish starting Monday, Feb. 22 and ending Friday, Feb. 26 at 10 am.

Although overfishing is an important current public concern, shoreline armouring is no less responsible, even though it is politically overlooked. The state of Washington has recently passed very progressive laws that place the responsibility squarely on landowners, industries and municipalities to reduce and even remove hard armouring detrimental to fish habitat.

To restore BC’s fisheries to a semblance of their original productivity BC must take similar steps. The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre recently published an important report: “Saving Orcas by Protecting Fish-Spawning Beaches”. The report explores legal avenues to enable similar legislation within Canadian law.

Dr. John Nielson (DFO) will kick things off with an overview of the state of herring off Cape Lazo. That will be followed on Tuesday by the UVic Environmental Law Centre presentation.

On Wednesday, Feb. 24 internationally Dr Ignacio Vilchis from San Diego Zoo who is internationally recognized for his work on the negative impacts of hard shores on seabird populations will present “Assessing seabird ecological correlates to inform conservation.”

On Thursday, Feb. 25, Dr Robert Rangeley from the non-profit “Oceana” will present a report on Canadian Fisheries and the importance of forage fish in “Rebuilding fisheries: unlocking Canada’s potential for abundant oceans .

The series will close with Salish Sea Herring Archaeology, an eye-opening overview of the state of herring before contact, as revealed from archaeological reconstructions, by UVic’s Dr Iain McKechnie.

The series is hosted for Comox Valley Nature by the Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists. The webinars are free and open to the public. URL’s for registration is can be found at the CVN website under the heading “CSEB Webinars”,

CVN is a non-profit always welcomes new members. Inquiries should be directed to Dr L. Maingon (250 331 0143). Parties interested in the status of herring in the Salish Sea are encouraged to also sign up for the Hornby Island Herringfest.

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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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CV Regional District adopts a statement of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

CV Regional District adopts a statement of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

The K’omoks First Nation welcomed the Tribal Canoe Journeys in 2017 at Goose Spit  |  George Le Masurier photo

CV Regional District adopts a statement of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

By George Le Masurier

The Comox Valley Regional District board has adopted a statement of reconciliation to guide its work with Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

The statement formally recognizes the regional district’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, as outlined in The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and several other key documents.

Electoral Area B Director and board Vice-Chair Arzeena Hamir said in the board’s announcement that reconciliation is “not just a statement or a gesture.” She said it is a commitment to take responsibility for the past and move forward in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to support the reclamation of their identity, culture and livelihood.

“While the words we have adopted are important, as a board we understand that history will judge us by our actions,” Hamir said. “We are at the beginning of a very long journey to heal the past. We must be humble and committed leaders that will help to pave the way towards a better future for our community.”

The CVRD announcement also acknowledged that it will be the actions they undertake to support the statement that will truly define its relationship with Indigenous Peoples moving forward.

K’omoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel said it has been her goal to build strong relationships with our local municipalities and work together on the notion of moving forward together. She said KFN and the CVRD have developed a lasting relationship to better understand each other and their common goals, “as well as where we differ, and how we can achieve Reconciliation.”

Rempel said reconciliation will be no easy task.

“Reconciliation is different for everyone, and has a million different meanings,” she said. “Reconciliation cannot be achieved through one simple act, but it does begin with one simple act.”

In September 2019, the CVRD named Indigenous Relations as one of four strategic drivers through which CVRD services will be delivered. To support Indigenous relations as a driver, the CVRD adopted a framework last year that guides core service delivery through an Indigenous Relations lens and promotes greater cultural awareness.

Here are a few of the regional district’s reconciliation activities undertaken in 2020, in addition to regular and ongoing discussions between the CVRD and Indigenous peoples on projects and day-to-day service delivery, such as water supply, sewage collection/treatment, recreation, transit and solid waste, several activities illustrate the progressive work to advance Indigenous interests.

Summer Recreation Program: The CVRD and the Wachiay Friendship Centre co-hosted Earthbound Kids, an all-day Indigenous cultural camp to enhance the community’s understanding of reconciliation by raising the awareness of Indigenous cultural identity. The CVRD was awarded a $10,000 grant through the Union of BC Municipalities’ Urban Communities Partnering for Reconciliation to fund the program.

CVRD and KFN Leadership Meetings: The CVRD Chair and Chief Administrative Officer along with key elected officials and project managers participated in monthly Kómoks First Nation (KFN) chief and council meetings. Eleven meetings between KFN and CVRD leadership were held in 2020, addressing more than 30 specific projects.

Community Benefits Agreement: In late 2020, the CVRD and KFN ratified a Community Benefits Agreement that commits both parties to work together collaboratively on a regional solution for sewer. The partnership recognizes the existing sewer line through Indian Reserve (IR1) was expropriated without adequate consultation and provides compensation for past and future impacts of sewer infrastructure within the reserve. The agreement will provide needed upgrades for Comox and Courtenay sewer infrastructure, while supporting the growth and economic development plans of the K’ómoks community.

South Sewer Extension Project: An extension of sewer service into Royston and Union Bay that will service KFN development lands is in the early stages of assessment. The CVRD is currently undertaking further assessment and technical evaluation including further review of potential costs and is in discussion with the K’ómoks First Nation and Union Bay Estates.

Seal Bay Signage Project: Recognizing that Seal Bay Park lies within K’ómoks First Nation traditional territory the CVRD and KFN worked in partnership to plan signage improvements and enhance the overall park visitor experience while promoting understanding of the cultural heritage and values within the park. Seal Bay Park (referred to as ‘Xwee Xwhya Luq’ by KFN) contains cultural and natural values that are important to the KFN.

LAST CHANCE TO TAKE OUR SURVEY ON SATISFACTION WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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Did you know: We drink Canadian beer out of American cans, where’s the logic in that?

Did you know: We drink Canadian beer out of American cans, where’s the logic in that?

Photo Caption

Did you know: We drink Canadian beer out of American cans, where’s the logic in that?

BY JOYCE NELSON

During the recent aluminium tariff “trade war” between the US and Canada, the lowly beer can became a sign of the entire debacle. It began on August 6 when the US announced a ten per cent tariff on aluminium from Canada, to take effect August 16.

This was the second time in three years that such a tariff had been imposed by the US, with the Trump administration claiming that Canada had unfairly increased its exports and become a “threat to US national security.”

On August 28, the owner of a small Ottawa brewery told CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” that the tariff was costing his company an extra two cents for every can because no beer cans are manufactured in Canada. Statistics Canada data from 2018 shows that Canada imports more than two billion beer cans annually.

So we brew our own beer, we smelt the aluminium, but we import the beer cans. It’s hard to see the logic in that.

Indeed, after the US tariff announcement, Jean Simard, the president and CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada, told the New York Times (August 6) that he would be pushing the Canadian government to retaliate by applying tariffs on American-made aluminium products. “We can drink Canadian beer out of Canadian cans,” Simard said.

But on September 15, just hours before Canada was set to impose its own aluminium tariffs, the US government-backed down and removed its tariffs. Mr. Simard then seemed to have lost his resolve about beer cans and instead was quoted as saying that “you can’t manage trade on a commodity like aluminium.” Simard did not respond to requests for an interview.

For her part, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland declared, after tariffs were dropped, that “common sense has prevailed.”

But a closer look at the aluminium situation suggests that common sense has little to do with it. In fact, like most globalized businesses, the aluminium industry looks more like a Rube Goldberg-style absurdity machine than a model of “common sense.”

A century ago, financiers from the US and UK selected Quebec as the site for aluminium production because of its hydropower potential and set about erecting dams to power a smelter complex throughout the Saguenay River Valley. The Inuit and Cree communities had little say in the process that displaced them for the sake of a North American aluminium industry.

Canada now has nine primary aluminium smelters – eight in Quebec and one in Kitimat, BC – with three owned by US-based Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), five owned by UK/Australia-based Rio Tinto (which bought Alcan in 2007), and one (Aluminiere Alouette) owned by a consortium that is six per cent owned by Quebec. It’s hard to consider this a “Canadian” industry, but that’s the euphemism that is always applied. These are the members of Jean Simard’s Aluminium Association of Canada. Oddly, the US administration considered a US company (Alcoa) – which owns one-third of the Canadian smelters – to be a part of this “national security threat.”

Aluminium is infinitely recyclable and melting aluminium for recycling uses 95% less energy than using virgin ore.

Bauxite, the ore that is the basis for aluminium, is not mined in Canada, so the smelting companies import the ore from Guyana, Jamaica, Guinea, and Australia. The ore travels thousands of miles to the smelters by fossil fuel-powered vessels, a factor not calculated into the industry’s claims to be a low-carbon venture in Canada (due to the use of hydropower for smelting rather than gas or coal).

Alcoa and Rio Tinto are also the world’s top two bauxite mining companies, owning many of the mines in those countries, where they have been accused of environmental and human rights violations. Rio Tinto is currently under fire for destroying Aboriginal heritage sites in Australia.

These smelters are called “primary” because they only accept “virgin” input (bauxite and/or alumina), not recycled aluminium. In this, they are like the plastics industry, which insists on “virgin” input rather than adapting to utilize the mountains of plastic waste.

Aluminium, however, is infinitely recyclable, and according to www.recycleeverywhere.ca, melting aluminium for recycling “uses 95% less energy than using virgin ore” because the temperatures needed are significantly lower than primary smelters.

Light Metal Age magazine states that there are some 42 secondary aluminium producers in Canada (four in BC and most in Ontario and Quebec), which take recycled aluminium for melting – but currently their capacity is paltry compared to the big nine smelters, who send their aluminium ingots, rolls of sheeting, etc. to the US.

Huge companies such as Crown Holdings Inc. (global headquarters in Yardley, Penn.) and Ball Corporation (global headquarters in Broomfield, Co.) manufacture billions of beer cans to sell back to Canadian breweries. Ball Corporation buys some of its aluminium rolls from recycler Novelis.*
Green agenda

 

A GREEN AGENDA

A spokesperson for labour union Unifor – which represents smelter workers – told me by phone that they would be in favour of Canada manufacturing its own beer cans on a large scale. “We are in favour of an increase in any sector of manufacturing in Canada,” he said, and added that Unifor is “not opposed” to using recycled aluminium.

Perhaps a lesson can be learned from Canada’s experience with personal protective equipment (PPE) for the pandemic. Initially, Canada was importing all its PPE from other countries. But in March, according to The Energy Mix (Sept. 4), the federal government issued a “call to action” and more than 6,000 Canadian companies offered expertise and capacity to manufacture what was needed, and 1,000 companies retooled to manufacture PPE.

This is an indication that the industry can “turn on a dime” when necessary.

Maybe it’s now time for recycling to turn on a dime. Year after year, Statistics Canada data has shown that our recycling of metal is on a downward trend, with less and less diverted from landfill. Perhaps if there were regional secondary aluminium producers in every province, along with local can manufacturers to supply the more than one thousand small breweries across the country, we would “drink Canadian beer out of Canadian cans.”

 

A GIANT IN RECYCLING BEER CANS

Before being bought up by Rio Tinto in 2007, Alcan created the means for turning billions of discarded aluminium cans into new ones. In 1989, it established “melting facilities” for UBCs (used beverage containers) at five locations, including at Berea, Kentucky. By 2001, the Berea plant had become the largest aluminium recycling facility in the world.

In 2005, this part of Alcan was spun off as a company called Novelis and in 2007 it was bought up by the Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group. By 2019, Novelis was recycling 60 billion beer cans per year, accounting for 61% of the company’s recycled content. Ironically, the cans are shipped from recycling centres around the world.

Novelis had long touted its “urban mines” rather than geophysical mines, which may be why Rio Tinto showed no interest in Novelis when it purchased Alcan.

Joyce Nelson is a contributor to the Watershed Sentinel and quarterly environmentally focused magazine headquartered in the Comox Valley. Her latest book, “Bypassing Dystopia,” is published by Watershed Sentinel Books.

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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