Cumberland mayor to shine light on bullying in local politics, nonprofits

Cumberland mayor to shine light on bullying in local politics, nonprofits

George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird knows what it’s like to be bullied as an adult woman in the Comox Valley. She entered politics in the early 1990s, when the Village Council table was more the province of men than it is today. And she has sat on enough nonprofit boards to experience dictatorial board chairs and intimidating fellow board members.

So she knows that bullying in local politics and nonprofits has nothing to do with the #metoo era, social media or overreaching political correctness.

And the mayor is determined to shine a spotlight on the problem.

Baird has invited 80 local women, and some men, to a second workshop that will feature local citizens talking about their experiences with bullying in politics, nonprofits and business workplaces. More than 40 women attended her first workshop last spring.

“We’re broadening our perspective this time,” she told Decafnation. “And including a focus on nonprofits and other organizations, not just politics.”

Baird and her committee have assembled a panel that includes professionals to help define bullying, how to recognize it and what to do what it happens.

“One of the goals of this workshop is not just to learn how to defend yourself against bullying, but also how to recognize it when it’s happening to someone else,” she said.

The last time Baird was bullied herself occurred at a Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce meeting, and the perpetrator was a male elected official.

“No one stopped him,” she said. “His behavior changed the whole atmosphere for everyone, made us all uncomfortable. Very negative.”

Baird said people who don’t stop or call out bullying are accessories to the crime. So she hopes the workshop will help people recognize bullying and find the courage to step in when it’s appropriate.

“I know that would be easier for some people to do than others,” she said. “But I think you would feel good that you did something that needed to be done.”

Bullying in nonprofits

According to a 2014 University of Windsor study more than half of Canadians reported at least one act of workplace harassment every week for the previous six months. A 2014 Angus Reid survey found that 43 percent of women have been sexually harassed on the job. And a Great West Life study reported that 71 percent of Canadian employees report concern over their psychological safety at work.

And nonprofits are not immune.

The Canadian online resource for nonprofits, Charity Village, reports that 78 percent of workplace bullies outrank their targets. And that includes donors or board members who threaten or intimidate nonprofit employees.

Board bullying is common and, according to one article on Charity Village, may be “more prevalent in the nonprofit sector than in the business sector.”

Bullying on nonprofit boards comes in five main forms, according to Charity Village: internal board interactions (such as ostracism and peer pressure), board to staff, board self-dealing (such as pressure to deliver inappropriate favors or benefits), sexual harassment and enabling bullying among staff (such as failing to take action, or willful ignorance of bullying at the staff level).

Bullying in politics

Bullying in politics is not a new concept. Men have historically dominated public office and the pioneering women who dared to enter this domain have almost all experienced some form of bullying.

Baird says she has noticed that political culture is slowly evolving, but holding public office is still harder today for women than for men.

“Some men don’t realize they are doing it, because they’ve been doing it for so long,” she said. “If you’ve been bullied for years, it’s hard to get out of that situation.”

Baird said local politics is a prime hotbed for bullying.

“People think they have the right to say anything they want to, especially during election campaigns. It can be very hurtful,” she said.

As a mayor, Baird tries to avoid using her position in a way that intimidates other council members.

“Every councillor has the right to speak uninterrupted and to voice their opinion,” she said. “The mayor’s job is not to argue or criticize another councillor’s thoughts. We get a better product if we all listen to what other people are saying.”

There have been various and serious allegations of bullying against several different trustees on the Union Bay Improvement District for years.

Men also experience bullying, though perhaps not as frequently as women.

Former BC Liberal Party cabinet minister Bill Bennett called Premier Gordon Campbell a bully who was vocally abusive, sometimes reducing caucus members to tears.

“You have almost a battered wife syndrome inside our caucus today,” Bennett was quoted as saying at the time.

Positive outcomes

Bullying in politics or in nonprofits isn’t something that people feel comfortable talking about, according to Baird. Women, for example, just learn to deal with it.

So the Cumberland mayor hopes her workshop can break through that barrier.

“I want to make it (bullying) visible,” she said. “And when it does happen, not to sit back and allow it to continue, that people will stand up and stop it.”

 

 

WHAT IS BULLYING AND CYBERBULLYING?

Bullying happens when there is an imbalance of power; where someone purposely and repeatedly says or does hurtful things to someone else. Bullying can occur one on one or in a group(s) of people. There are many different forms of bullying:

Physical bullying (using your body or objects to cause harm): includes hitting, punching, kicking, spitting or breaking someone else’s belongings.
Verbal bullying (using words to hurt someone): includes name calling, put-downs, threats and teasing.
Social bullying (using your friends and relationships to hurt someone): includes spreading rumours, gossiping, excluding others from a group or making others look foolish or unintelligent. This form of bullying is most common among girls.

— Children who bully are 37% more likely than children who do not bully to commit criminal offences as adults. (Public Safety)

Cyberbullying involves the use of communication technologies such as the Internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to repeatedly intimidate or harass others.

Cyberbullying includes:

— Sending mean or threatening emails or text/instant messages.
— Posting embarrassing photos of someone online.
— Creating a website to make fun of others.
— Pretending to be someone by using their name.
— Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others.
— Cyberbullying affects victims in different ways than traditional bullying. It can follow a victim everywhere 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from school, to the mall and all the way into the comfort of their home – usually safe from traditional forms of bullying.

— Source, RCMP

 

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Rural Comox Valley zoning bylaw “more permissive”

Rural Comox Valley zoning bylaw “more permissive”

CVRD zoning bylaw will encourage market gardening and allow egg sales from a home

By George Le Masurier

This article has been updated

After elected officials have added more than 60 amendments to a 14-year-old bylaw, it’s time to update the bylaw.

Ton Trieu, the Comox Valley Regional District’s relatively new manager of planning services, is rolling out a proposed updated zoning bylaw this month that will govern land use and density for rural areas A, B and C.

The new bylaw excludes Denman and Hornby Islands because land use there is governed by the Islands Trust Act.

Trieu says the changes will make the 2005 zoning bylaw consistent with the 2011 Regional Growth Strategy and the 2014 Official Community Plan.

“We’re also trying to capture the new trends in development,” Trieu told Decafnation. “We want it to be less restrictive, more permissive.”

Rural residents will have three opportunities in May to review and comment on proposed changes before it goes to a public hearing in August. The Electoral Services Commission will consider the updated bylaw in the fall.

Trieu said the existing bylaw is “still a good bylaw,” but it needs tweaks to adjust to constantly evolving development trends. And, he hopes, to make the bylaw less confusing.

Highlights of the proposed changes include a friendlier approach to home businesses, agriculture, aging in place, sustainable energy initiatives and incentives for economic development. The bylaw will also address sign clutter.

Trieu said this update of the zoning bylaw will not address vacation rental or cannabis issues. Planners will address those two issues separately in what Trieu expects will be the first two amendments to this updated bylaw.

Rural living

The new bylaw would permit market gardens, chickens and honey bees on parcels larger than .2 hectares (about a half-acre). It would allow residents to sell these products — including eggs, honey and vegetables — on their property. Selling meat is still prohibited, which is regulated by other authorities.

“You won’t be able to turn your property into a slaughterhouse,” Trieu said.

The maximum allowable height of accessory buildings would be increased from six meters to seven meters. The height change would reduce the large number of variance applications regarding building height that now cost property owners $500 to file.

Economic Development

The bylaw changes would encourage some home-based businesses by allowing one commercial vehicle with a maximum gross vehicle weight of 15,000 kg or greater (15 tons). The current bylaw allows only a single one-ton vehicle.

There aren’t many commercial zones in the rural areas, but veterinarian offices would be allowed in them because most of their work is mobile now. Horses and large animals are no longer brought to clinics.

And parcels of two hectares or larger (about five acres) could allow uses like home-based auto mechanics, with proper screening and setbacks.

The new bylaw would place some controls on the number of people congregating for some home-based enterprises, such as yoga studios or hair salons. There are no restrictions under the current bylaw.

Aging in place

The updated bylaw would offer more flexibility in carriage house design.

New regulations would not require the first and second floor square footages to match, and the area of the second floor could be smaller than the first.. And it will permit internal staircases to the second floor.

The height of carriage houses would rise to eight meters, to allow higher first floors for the storage of recreational vehicles or tall boats.

Sustainable principles

To encourage the use of solar panels, they would no longer be included in building height calculations. In the past, adding solar panels to a roof has put a building out of compliance.

And the updated bylaw would allow domestic wind turbines, as long as specific setbacks are met and they are not connected to the electrical grid.

Updated zoning maps

The CVRD hopes to make zoning rules clearer by reducing the number of zones.

For example, Residential 2, Residential 1B, Residential 1C and Residential D would all be collapsed into one zone, Residential 1. 

The new bylaw would also reduce split-zone properties on a voluntary basis. There are more than 80 properties in the CVRD rural areas that have both residential and commercial zones or residential and Agricultural Land Reserve zones.

The unique Commercial Composting zone, which is heavily regulated by the province, will be eliminated.

New sign rules

A new feature would regulate signage in rural areas, although it won’t be a detailed sign bylaw like those in Comox Valley municipalities. There are no regulations on signs in rural areas now.

The sign regulations would prohibit flashing signs and third-party signs, and specify a maximum size.

Third-party signs are those signs on properties not owned by the person or business being promoted. Although the new bylaw would allow temporary third-party signs, such as real estate or campaign signs

How to get involved

Trieu has scheduled three public workshops in May to explain the proposed changes. Copies of the proposed bylaw will be available. A public hearing is scheduled for August.

MAY 6, 2019 | 3:30–7:00 PM
Union Bay Community
Club and Recreation Association
5401 South Island Highway, Union Bay

MAY 16, 2019 | 3:30–7:00 PM
Oyster River Fire Hall
2241 Catherwood Road, Black Creek

MAY 22, 2019 | 3:30–7:00 PM
CVRD Boardroom
550B Comox Road, Courtenay

Residents can also learn more online

 

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Area B residents want voice on regional Sewage Commission

Area B residents want voice on regional Sewage Commission

By George Le Masurier

The problems inherent when several distinct government jurisdictions nearly overlap each other reared its ugly head again at last week’s regional Sewage Commission meeting.

And it’s no coincidence that these issues rise because two larger jurisdictions (Courtenay and Comox) have dumped their effluent problems on a smaller third jurisdiction (Area B), without allowing the latter any formal representation.

Big governments have historically pushed their problems out of town, into less populated rural areas, where they are presumably less noticeable.

But for the residents of Curtis Road, who are downwind from the nearby sewage treatment plant, noxious odour problems are more than just noticeable. The smell of human waste has plagued them for 35 years, forcing some them out of their homes.

And the residents of Croteau Beach, just outside the boundaries of the Town of Comox, took special notice when a previous Sewage Commission planned to build a new pump station in their Area B neighborhood. The plan was fraught with flaws, not the least of which was a threat to residents drinking water wells.

Grant: “A lot of the things (Nichol) said were just not factual”

Croteau Beach residents lobbied for Area B representation on the Sewage Commission at the time. They argued that the principles of democracy demanded it.

No jurisdiction should be allowed to locate infrastructure necessary for a function or service in a separate jurisdiction that derives no benefit from the service and has no effective voice at the decision-making table, they said.

Now, Curtis Road residents are joining in that debate. They, too, want Area B representation on the Sewage Commission. And they have backed that argument up with a detailed history of alleged flagrant disregard for their concerns by three decades of commission members.

And now, new Area B representative Arzeena Hamir has asked the commission to add her as a voting member.

That’s a proposal that didn’t sit well with Comox Councillor Ken Grant.

Grant questioned whether it was legal under the BC Local Government Act to appoint a voting member to a commission from which that proposed members’ constituents do not participate. By that Grant meant that Area B residents don’t pay for the cost of operating the regional Sewage System, nor do they get to use it.

But Grant did not question whether it was ethical for the commission to build a “stinking plant” — as Curtis Road resident Jenny Steel said — next to residents who have no say in the matter.

Still, Grant went further. He said when the Sewage Commission experimented with a non-voting Area B representation to appease Croteau Beach concerns, it was a failure.

“It didn’t matter what we did, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t good enough for the area (Croteau Beach),” he said.

And then Grant called out former Area B representative Rod Nichol.

“A lot of the things (Nichol) said were just not factual,” Grant said. “It made it difficult to come up with a proper decision.”

Decafnation emailed Grant after the meeting to clarify his statements. Was he calling Nichol a liar, who purposely stated untruths? Or did he mean that Nichol was uninformed, that he just didn’t know what he was talking about?

Grant refused to clarify his statements.

Nichol, however, said he stands by any statements he made at the Sewage Commission.

“I did not attend the meeting … so I am not aware of what was said and by whom,” Nichol wrote via email. “If Ken Grant indeed said what you claim, then here are my comments:

“It is easy to chuck sh*t when the other party is not present to defend himself. If “a lot of things the previous director said were simply not factual” why has it taken this long for the allegation to be made? Everyone has an opportunity to speak and be heard at those meetings — if I said things that were not factual, why didn’t someone challenge me at the time? I do not know what Ken Grant is allegedly referring to, but I stand by what I said.”

Comox Valley Regional District Chief Administrative Officer Russell Dyson said a governance review is underway that may help the Sewage Commission decide whether they can, or want to add the Area B representative in either a voting or non-voting capacity, or at all.

A motion to include the question of Area B representation on the commission in the governance review was passed by a 4-3 vote split along jurisdictional lines.

All three Courtenay representatives voted in favor of the motion, as did the representative from CFB Comox.

All three Comox representatives — Grant, Maureen Swift and Russ Arnott — voted against it.

 

 

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Hear Jane Philpott interview on CBC radio

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Jane Philpott, who was expelled from the federal Liberal Paty caucus this week, along with Jody Wilson-Raybould, spoke about the affair on CBC Radio this Morning. Asked by Anna Maria Tremonti on The Current why she chose to sacrifice her political career over this issue, Philpott said this:

“I chose the truth. I chose to act on principles that are so important to the future of our country. That’s more important than my political career. I got into politics to improve people’s lives, to be the very best member of parliament for Markham-Stouffville that I could possibly be, to stand up for truth to represent what I heard from my constituents. If that means that — in some way — I’ve been taken out of opportunities that I had before, it makes me very sad. I loved the work that I was able to do, but I have to be able to speak to my children and my mother and my husband and say I did the right thing. And to my constituents and say I did the right thing.”

You can read excerpts and hear the full interview here.

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Decision time looming for North Island Green Party

Decision time looming for North Island Green Party

From left, Blair Cusack and Mark de Bruijn  /  Pat Carl photo

By Pat Carl

North Island-Powell River (NIPR) Greens, Voters-all: The time has come. Drum roll, please.

On March 10, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Greens will file into the party’s nomination meetings to cast their votes for the candidate who will represent the NIPR riding in the 2019 federal election to be held some time in October.

Greens can attend the meeting either in the Powell River Public Library located at 100 – 6975 Alberni Street in Powell River or in the Black Creek Community Centre located at 2001 Black Creek Road in Black Creek.

Yes, through the miracle of modern technology, voting for the GPC NIPR riding candidate will be conducted simultaneously from two different locations as befits a riding that encompasses nearly 58,000 square kilometres. Greens have their fingers crossed that electronic wizardry is sufficient enough to pull this off without a hitch.

While non-Green observers are welcome, voters will need to verify their Green Party membership, snap up a ballot, and check the name of their preferred candidate.

If your GPC membership has expired within the last 12 months and you have the exorbitant $10.00 membership fee in one of your pockets or buried deep in your purse and you’re willing to part with such a lavish sum, then you can vote. Such an opportunity. Let your voice be heard.

And, here, direct from attending three separate meet-and-greets, are the two candidates:

Blair Cusack believes environmental half-measures are no longer feasible. “There was a time when it was possible for me and you to do green things and help our community on the one hand, but, on the other hand, vote for a party that appealed to other aspects of what we wanted or what we believed in. Those times are past.” Read more about Blair.

Mark de Bruijn believes the environmental and social issues affecting the NIPR riding are growing. “I want to work with the many concerned, motivated and inspired people in our communities to find fresh and innovative solutions to these challenges. It is work we can do together; everyone can play a part.” Read more about Mark.

Unlike other parties, GPC has opened its doors at three meet-and greets and allowed party members and the general public to observe, question, and provide feedback to the two candidates. And here’s a shocker: Although only one of the fine candidates can win the nomination, they have both pledged to actively work on the campaign of whichever candidate is chosen to run in the election.

Following the decision made by Greens at the nomination meeting, the Campaign Launch is set for March 23 with time and location to be announced. Joining the launch will be NIPR’s special guest, Green Party MP Elizabeth May. Watch the NIPR Facebook page and website for more information as it becomes available.

Pat Carl lives in Comox and contributes to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project

 

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Regional District CAO responds to developer’s lawsuit

Regional District CAO responds to developer’s lawsuit

Photo Caption

By George Le Masurier

Comox Valley Regional District Chief Administrative Officers Russell Dyson issued a statement today, Dec. 27, in response to a petition by 3L Developments Inc. to Supreme Court of British Columbia

Earlier this year, the CVRD board rejected an application by 3L to amend the Regional Growth Strategy to allow a large subdivision in the Puntledge Triangle. The development company then challenged that decision in a court filing, just days before the Oct. 20 municipal elections.

Today, Dyson issued the following statement:

“On October 17, 2018, 3L Developments Inc. filed a petition with the Supreme Court of British Columbia seeking court orders to set aside the Comox Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) denial of the 3L’s application to amend the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

“Our lawyer has advised us to limit our comments on this matter while it is before the court, but we do want to make it clear that the CVRD considered 3L’s application to amend the RGS in a fair, open and transparent process. We followed all requirements set out in Provincial legislation, CVRD bylaws and policies and met the Court’s expectations from previous decisions regarding 3L’s proposal.

“Amending the RGS is a serious undertaking.

“The RGS is a regional planning framework that guides growth and development and protects the environment, health and livability in the CVRD for all citizens.

“We fully consulted with the public and 3L during this process. We kept 3L informed and respected their interest, processing their application in a timely manner.

“The documents below are the same as those filed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia on December 21, 2018 and be found on our website at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/3l

“· Response to Petition – filed

“· Affidavit #1 of James Andrew Warren – filed

“· Affidavit #2 of James Andrew Warren – filed

“· Affidavit of Russell Dyson – filed

“· Affidavit of Alana Mullaly – filed

“· Affidavit of Edwin Grieve – filed

“· Affidavit of Curtis Scoville – filed”

 

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