3L Developments is back, and again asking to amend the Regional Growth Strategy

3L Developments is back, and again asking to amend the Regional Growth Strategy

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3L Developments is back, and again asking to amend the Regional Growth Strategy

By George Le Masurier

The 3L Development company is once again seeking to amend the Regional Growth Strategy.

3L Developments, an ownership group led by founder Dave Dutcyvich, has tried for 13 years to develop nearly 1,000 homes on its 500-plus acres situated between Browns River to the north and the Puntledge River to the south. The Inland Island Highway borders the property to the west.

The CVRD has denied 3L’s past requests for development permits because the site doesn’t fit into the CVRD’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), which only recognizes three areas as settlement nodes for growth outside of municipal boundaries, the Saratoga area, Mt. Washington and Union Bay.

The CVRD’s denials have triggered a series of confrontations with the CVRD staff and at least one director and triggered multiple legal actions against the regional district. Its proposals have incited community protests and, in response, the company has shut off access to the popular Stotan Falls recreational area.

As a result, the regional district last year realigned its policies with all other British Columbia regional districts to consider RGS amendments only when they are proposed by a government body.

But although private landowners can no longer propose Comox Valley RGS amendments, government bodies, such as the Electoral Services Committee (EASC), can do so on behalf of a private landowner.

This week, 3L representative Rob Buchan asked the Electoral Services Committee to support an amendment to the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) and refer it to the full CVRD board that would clear the way for a revised version of their development plan, called Riverwood.

The Electoral Services Committee comprises directors for electoral areas A, B and C.

A long discussion at the EASC on June 15 culminated in a motion by Area B Director Arzeena Hamir, and seconded by Area A Director Daniel Arbour, to deny the application.

But this motion failed (only Hamir voted to deny the application) after Area C Director Edwin Grieve implored his colleagues to consider a long-term vision and move the application forward by seeking input from other agencies and First Nations.

Arbour then moved and Hamir seconded a successful motion to ask appropriate agencies, including fire departments, to provide feedback on the new 3L application.

This motion passed unanimously.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Speaking for Dutcyvich, new 3L representative Buchan said the discussion over Riverwood has gone on over a decade and that his mission is to find a solution that ensures “public access and preserves the land.”

“The reality of where the owner (Dutcyvich) is at,” Buchan said, “is that he will liquidate his economic interest whatever way he can, which would make it more difficult to acquire the greenways in the future.”

Buchan said the assemblage of five separate land titles under one ownership is currently an advantage for the regional district to deal with this issue given the public’s interest in acquiring the land for parks, greenways and access to Stotan Falls.

“If this (3L’s current application for an RGS amendment) doesn’t go through, that will be more difficult to achieve,” he said. “It won’t be nearly as easy in the future.”

Director Hamir said the substance of the application didn’t “tick the boxes” for her to fully consider how the new Riverwood plan would meet the requirements of the Regional Growth Strategy.

Director Arbour initially said he would vote for Hamir’s motion to deny the application. But later, in deference to Area C Director Edwin Grieve, where Riverwood is located, changed his mind.

“But from what I saw today, we must first do a good job of meeting the goals of the Regional Growth Strategy before opening these settlement nodes.”

And Arbour took exception to a suggestion that his or other directors’ vote might be based on ownership or a possible sale.

“My vote would not be influenced by who owns a property because at the end of the day we’re talking about the Regional Growth Strategy,” he said. “That argument rings shallow for me.”

Director Grieve, who chairs the EASC, said Dutcyvich has invested a lot of time on the Riverwood project and suggested that he was at the point of wanting it resolved.

Grieve asked Arbour and Hamir to refer the application to other agencies and keep the process moving forward.

“If the proponents (3L) have the patience to move at the speed of government, which is moving even slower now during this pandemic, then we should put it out for feedback,” he said.

 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

The three electoral area directors eventually chose to consider the 3L application, rather than outright denying it. They will refer it to a list of agencies that includes the K’omoks First Nation and two other First Nations, provincial agencies, local governments, the school district and two public advisory groups.

The Electoral Services Committee will then consider the feedback from those entities, comment on the new information and decide how to proceed.

The committee could ultimately refer the application to the full CVRD board, which would, in turn, consider whether to initiate a Regional Growth Strategy amendment process.

Or, the committee could deny the amendment application and close the file.

 

SUMMARY OF 3L’S APPLICATION

3L Developments has revised its original plan to develop their Riverwood lands. They now want to develop 780 housing units (335 single detached units each with provision for a secondary suite, 54 townhouse units and 56 multi-family units), 1,400 square meters of neighbourhood commercial floor area, 97 hectares of open space or parkland and a 10-acre parcel for K’omoks First Nation.

The new proposal triggers the need for an amendment to the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) because the properties are regulated by two Official Community Plans and designated by both as Rural Area and Rural Settlement Area/Settlement Expansion, respectively.

3L Developments Inc. is proposing to repeal the existing OCP designation on a portion of the lands and to amend the OCP designation on the remaining lands to a Settlement Node and Rural Settlement Area designation. This requires an RGS amendment.
CVRD staff recommended the EASC refer the applications to external agencies and First Nations for comment and detailed feedback and create an opportunity to acquire any additional information.

 

BACKGROUND TO 3L’S PROPOSAL

3L Developments first proposed a new, self-contained community that they named Riverwood on 500-plus acres between the Browns and Puntledge rivers in 2007.

The CVRD rejected that first application at a time when the district was developing the Regional Growth Strategy. In subsequent legal action started by 3L, the CVRD was later told by the BC Supreme Court to give the proposal fuller consideration.

After reconsidering the 3L application in 2018 by what’s called the ‘standard process’ — which takes longer and gathers more feedback from a wider array of affected parties than the ‘expedited process’ — the CVRD board voted in 2018 to again deny 3L’s application. 3L then started another legal action to have that decision overturned by the courts, but it was unsuccessful.

At that time, the CVRD was the only regional district in the province to allow developers or other private parties to apply for RGS amendments. In all other regional districts, only another government entity could apply to amend the RGS.

In 2018, the CVRD amended its Regional Growth Strategy to match other districts in the amendment proposal process.

The revised RGS now states that amendments can be proposed by a member municipality, the Electoral Services Committee or the full CVRD board, and they can do so on behalf of an external agency or a landowner.

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Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?

Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?

Selfie taken by Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May, left, and Mandolyn Jonasson having fun at a women’s conference in Vancouver

Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?

By George Le Masurier

Questions of impropriety at the Green Party of Canada’s nomination meeting in June erupted this week when one of the candidates went public with allegations that the vote was corrupted.

In a post to the Comox Valley Politics Facebook page, Mandolyn Jonasson, who had sought the party’s nomination, said the Greens’ nomination process was tainted and because of that party Leader Elizabeth May personally recommended a re-vote.

Jonasson, a Qualicum Beach business owner who was solicited by the party to seek the nomination told Decafnation on Saturday that at least two confirmed party members received double ballots in their voting envelopes at the nomination meeting, which was held during the Courtenay-Alberni riding’s annual general meeting on June 15.

She says organizers did not announce an exact vote count in contravention of party procedures nor did they keep any record of results. That has made it impossible to verify that the number of counted ballots equalled the number of members at the party’s Annual General Meeting, or the margin of victory.

The ballot box wasn’t continually monitored throughout the voting process, nor did candidates have representatives present during the count, according to Jonasson.

Jonasson was told she lost the nomination to Wood by just four votes.

But it wasn’t the mistakes made during the nomination voting that concern Jonasson the most.

“Mistakes can happen. It’s how you rectify and handle them afterwards,” she told Decafnation. “It’s the fact that they (GPC officials) were complicit in acknowledging the mistakes and then suppressing it and trying to suppress me or anyone else in the party.”

When Jonasson tried to appeal the nomination results, she and others were advised by officials of the party’s electoral district association (EDA) to direct her appeal to Liberty Bradshaw, local EDA president.

But she later received notice from the GPC national office saying the EDA officials were confused about the appeal protocol and that she would have to appeal through the Green Party’s own ombudsperson, which she did.

The Green Party’s national Executive Director Emily McMillan told Decafnation that Jonasson’s appeal was rejected because “it was not brought to our attention within the time frame (72 hours) or to the right people (Green Party ombuds).”

“These were inexperienced volunteers (at the EDA nomination meeting), McMillan told Decafnation in a telephone interview. “Doing the best they could.”

In a follow-up email, McMillan said the party determined that minor errors in the conduct of the meeting did not invalidate or have any conclusive impact on the outcome of the vote, and that Sean Wood is the properly nominated GPC candidate for Courtenay—Alberni.

“Ms. Jonasson was provided with a detailed report to this effect. This was done despite the fact that Ms. Jonasson’s complaint itself was technically invalid as it was submitted six weeks following the nomination meeting — well outside of the 72 hour window allowed for appeals. Ms. Jonasson was unable to justify this delay,” McMillan said.

But the party did an investigation anyway. A report of that investigation from Federal Green Party President Jean-Luc Cooke has not been released to the public. Jonasson has a copy but is bound by a non-disclosure agreement to maintain its confidentiality.

GPC official Rosie Emery initially told Decafnation that Jonasson had no non-disclosure agreement. But Christina Winter, campaign advisor for Wood, indicated there was an NDA.

Jonasson maintains that Elizabeth May told her in person during an Equal Voice conference in Vancouver that she recommended a revote in the Courtenay-Alberni riding and that Wood should step down. But the party leader also said she couldn’t interfere because the GPC is a bottom-up, not a top-down organization.

Wood has not responded to several attempts for comment on this story.

An email sent by Kate Storey on July 25 to all members of the party’s electoral district association, including Don Munroe who resigned over the nomination irregularities, and Sean Wood, urged the candidate to step down.

“I can’t tell the EDA what to do … but, in my opinion, if the candidate wants to improve his public image and get the support of the whole EDA behind him, then he might want to step down and ask for a new nomination meeting. It would clear away the uncertainty and would help his campaign,” Storey said.

Cumberland Councillor Vicky Brown, who attended the meeting, recalls that after members voted, the ballot box was taken into a room, but that there was no call for scrutineers.

“I thought the vote was handled very loosely, not secure at all. There could have easily been several people with double (or more) ballots in their envelopes,” Brown told Decafnation. “Because there were no numbers given, and I don’t know if anyone counted the total voters in the room, it’s difficult to know whether the vote count was accurate.”

Brown was one of many who emailed the EDA afterward to ask these questions and received no response.

“Because of this, the nomination process was suspect to me and I was left with an uneasy feeling about the whole thing,” Brown said. “I’m disappointed that the riding association couldn’t find a way to resolve this in a transparent way.”

At one point, on July 20, Jonasson received notice from the Courtenay-Alberni EDA that there would be a revote and an official went so far as to ask if she’d be willing to run a second time. But that was never brought up again, Jonasson said.

Jonasson, who still supports Green Party policies, said her reason for going public now was not personal, but because she cares about democracy.

“I’m not going to be bullied,” she said. “I know I’m martyring myself, they’re going to try and discredit me. But there’s a lot of people who saw this and know about it but don’t want to put themselves on the line.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By George Le Masurier

At the only federal election forum in the Courtenay-Alberni riding focused strictly on the climate crisis, four of the five candidates showed up and answered questions from a panel of four and an audience of about 300 voters.

Incumbent NDP MP Gord Johns, Liberal Jonah Gowans, Green Sean Wood and Barb Biley representing the Marxist-Leninist Party spent nearly two hours on stage at the Florence Filberg Centre Oct. 4 in a deep dive into what actions the next government should take to fight climate change.

Conservative candidate Byron Horner refused to attend, and offered no explanation for his absence.

The candidates who did attend found agreement on some issues such as the need to create equality for the most vulnerable as Canada’s transitions to a greener economy, lowering the voting age to 16 and ending federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

But Wood said the other parties were just “handing out gifts” during the campaign by suddenly promising to end to oil and gas subsidies. He credited the Green Party and its leader Elizabeth May — “the most ethical and trustworthy leader” of all the parties — for getting the topics into the national conversation.

Johns detailed $48 billion in tax breaks and other gifts to corporations that his party would invest in green energy technology.

He also criticized Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau for promising in 2015 to cut fossil fuel subsidies but failing to follow through.

“The NDP put forward a motion (to end subsidies) six months ago, and the Liberals voted no. We proposed declaring a climate emergency, and the Liberals said no. Then they tabled their own (climate emergency) bill and the day after that approved purchasing the TransMountain pipeline,” he said.

That just shows “who pulls the strings,” according to Biley.

“Decisions aren’t made in Ottawa, they’re implemented in Ottawa. They are made by fossil fuel companies,” she said. “How can you declare a climate emergency and then buy a pipeline.”

Wood said government has failed to act more quickly on climate issues because the major political parties “whip” their MPs to vote as their party executive tells them to vote. And he took a shot at the provincial NDP.

“The NDP promised no Site C, no LNG, no fracking, that they would get fish farms out,” he said, but they didn’t do it. “The Green Party doesn’t whip its elected members. The constituents are our bosses. That’s how it should be.”

In her closing statement at the forum, Biley followed that idea by saying small parties raised the level of political discussion because the major parties break promises “over and over again, and just expect us to suck it up.”

“We should follow the example of youth in hitting the streets, of women taking back the night, of our coastal forest workers refusing to take concessions and assert our own plan for climate action. Empower yourself now,” she said.

She said Canada must transform its political system so it genuinely represents the people, not the parties.

Johns said in his first term as the Courtenay-Alberni incumbent MP, he has fought for the coast,” and brought conservation and other climate issues to the conversation in Parliament.

“Sixty percent of our communities are progressive. But without electoral reform, we split the vote,” he said. “Because of that, Conservatives can win this riding.”

Earlier Johns received the largest audience response of the night when he said, while addressing how previous Conservative governments gutted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, “The first thing we should do is not let the Conservatives govern again.”

John said he was one of about 30 MPs of the 356 total in the House of Commons who attend an All-Party Caucus.

“No one party will solve the climate crisis,” he said. “It’s going to take everyone.”

Wood said his party’s polling shows support for candidates in the riding was neck-and-neck, and that the Conservatives weren’t as strong as “everybody else.”

“Don’t vote against something, vote for who you want,” he said.

Liberal Jonah Gowans said no political party has all the best ideas. The Liberal Party of Canada has a history of taking the best ideas from wherever and adopting them.

The forum was a collaboration of the Cumberland Forest Society, Project Watershed, K’omoks First Nations, Climate Strike Canada, Dogwood, the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership and the United Church.

The assembled panel that asked the first questions of the candidates included Nalan Goosen representing youth of the Comox Valley, Celia Laval of the faith community, Caelan Mclean of K’omoks First Nations and Don Castledden and David Stapley of the Conservation Partnership.

Disclosure: The author moderated the climate forum.

 

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Candidates to speak at 4th Person’s Day Lunch on Oct. 18

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Submitted photo

Candidates to speak at 4th Person’s Day Lunch on Oct. 18

By Guest Writer

All Courtenay-Alberni and North Island Powell River candidates in the federal
election will attend the 4th Annual Persons Day Lunch on Oct. 18.

“The lunch celebrates three milestones along the journey to equity for Canadian women. It honours the leadership of the Famous Five who fought for this status, winning the battle in 1929. Some women attending this lunch were not legally a “person” when born,” co-organizer Betty Donalson said.

Candidates will respond to a pre-question: If elected, what would you do to reduce gender inequities in Canada?

Then, candidates will have an opportunity to present their platforms, respond to a general question and answer period, meet voters and distribute election maaterials.

Both women candidates reside in NIPR: Rachel Blaney (NDP incumbent) and Shelley Downey (Conservative). The five male candidates include Mark de Bruijn (Green Party) and Peter Schwarzhoff (Liberal) in the NIPR. Courtenay-Alberni candidates include Gord Johns (NDP incumbent; Bryon Horner (Conservative) and Sean Wood (Green Party).

Women were acknowledged as “persons” in Canada approximately a decade after most had been granted the right to vote. This status permits greater participation in public life including appointments to the senate and senior judicial levels.

However, Canada has a low global gender equity ranking, and in the Comox Valley financial wage inequities have increased since 2010. According to Amnesty International (Canada) other acute issues include: lack of affordable housing, skyrocketing child-care costs, precarious work and low wages, a lack of personal autonomy, persistently high rates of gender-based violence and reduced funding for women’s organizations.

Lunch is buffet style at the Best Western Hotel at 12 noon ($25). This year, for the first time, advance tickets are available. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the door. Laughing Oyster Bookstore and committee organizers have had a good response; approximately 100 attendees are anticipated. Donation in table teapots help offset overhead expenses. Small table settings provide opportunities to talk informally with candidates and other attendees.

“This lunch is an opportunity to highlight women’s issues prior to an important election, and to learn more about our shared unique “herstory”. Attendees will leave more informed about gender-based issues and perhaps become more engaged in voting a few days later,” Donalson said.

 

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Sept. 27 climate action march through downtown Courtenay  /  Submitted photo

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By George Le Masurier

Friday’s youth-led climate strikes in the Comox Valley were the largest events of their kind in living memory and a reminder that climate change has become the central issue in the federal election.

But maybe not for Conservative candidate Byron Horner.

Horner, who is running for the Conservative Party of Canada in the riding of Courtenay-Alberni, has declined an invitation to attend the all-candidates forum ‘Canada and the Climate Crisis‘ happening on Friday, Oct. 4 in Courtenay.

“As a nation experiencing rates of warming double the global average, Canadians are facing huge and growing challenges. Canada is one of the highest per-capita emitters in the G20 — only seven countries around the globe put more carbon into the atmosphere than Canadians. And, yet, this past week’s climate strikes tell us that people are concerned,” Dave Mills, one of the forum’s organizers, told Decafnation.

Historically, Conservatives have taken center stage in the defense of Canada’s environment. The desire to protect what we have and to take responsibility for one’s actions are conservative moral imperatives.

“Horner’s snub could be tied to his party’s connection and long-standing support for the oil industry. Voters should consider whether a candidate unwilling to even talk about climate action is capable of tackling this crisis as an MP,” Mills said.

Find out what the NDP, Liberal and Green candidates have to say about our climate reality. Join the conversation at 6:30 pm on Friday, October 4 at the Filberg main conference hall in Courtenay.

Sponsors for the forum include the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership, Comox Valley Youth Environmental Action, Cumberland Community Forest Society, Dogwood, K’omoks First Nation, Project Watershed, Unitarian Fellowship and World Community.

Disclosure: Decafnation will moderate this forum

 

 

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Gord Johns, the incumbent MP for the Courtenay-Alberni riding, went to Ottawa in 2015 believing that members of minority parties could get things done in the Canadian Parliament. And, he says, he proved it was true.

During Johns first term as a New Democratic Party MP, he passed two motions with unanimous support. One that benefited 40,000 Canadian veterans and another that benefited the world’s oceans. He helped bring $100 million to his riding for community infrastructure projects.

And, he says, he has been a voice for indigenous people on the national stage. He secured funding for a coordinator of the new Coast Guard Auxiliary Indigenous Peoples program that will employ 10 First Nations people located in Tofino.

Johns helped seure $375,000 for a new art gallery on Hornby Island, where 40 percent of residents make their living from the arts. And he used the media to shine a light on the derelict and abandoned vessels in Deep Bay, something the former Conservative MP John Duncan promised for years but didn’t do.

He played a key role in securing funds to restore the Sproat Lake water bombers with a new technology that enables them to fight fires at night. And he helped Pacific Coast University access $200,000 to fund a return-to-work pilot program that could ultimately expand to benefit 1.2 million Canadians who have been hurt on the job.

“We have lots of little communities in this riding, and everybody counts,” John said. “The mayors and councils know who’s been helping and working collaboratively for their benefit.”

And if the NDP hold the balance of power in a new Liberal minority government on Oct. 21, as he expects, Johns says he will have the opportunity to do even more for the Courtenay-Alberni riding.

 

First term accomplishments

Johns, who was born, raised and educated (Camosun College) on the Island, has served on the Tofino district council and as executive director of the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. He has owned and operated several businesses, including EcoEverything that specialized in sustainable products.

He is the only federal election candidate in Courtenay-Alberni who has held public office, led a nonprofit, run small businesses or has lived on the Island for a lifetime.

And, he is the first MP in 25 years to have two private member’s motions/bills pass in a single parliamentary session.

In 2016, Johns first motion restored $372 million in lapsed Veterans Affairs funding to improve services and benefits for veterans seeking medical care. The MP says there are about 40,000 veterans’ medical claims that haven’t been addressed. But reallocating those unspent dollars will clear the backlog.

The next year, Johns introduced a motion for a national strategy on plastics pollution that was passed in 2018 after months of discussions. His motion ultimately led to the Liberals pledge of a national ban on single-use plastics by 2021.

If he’s returned to parliament, Johns promises to ensure that a Liberal majority or minority government will follow through on that promise.

Johns was one of 25 federal candidates endorsed by GreenPAC, a nonpartisan nonprofit supporting environmental leaders from all major Canadian parties.

 

Conservatives failed the riding

Johns sees the Courtenay-Alberni riding as a contest between the NDP and the Conservatives. That gives voters a clear choice, he says, between a candidate who is connected to the wealthiest people who dropped into the riding from West Vancouver and himself, a local candidate who has proven he’s on the side of the people and the communities.

“While I was helping 40,000 veterans, by contrast the Conservatives had cut 1,000 jobs and closed nine offices in an attack on the veterans community,” he told Decafnation. “While the local Conservative candidate calls my bills irrelevant, his party leader, Andrew Scheer, voted for it.”

Likewise, Johns says Coastal BC needs $500 million for salmon restoration and habitat enhancement, which is part of the NDP platform. But when the Conservatives had power they cut $100 million out of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and “gutted it.”

“Now our salmon are in crisis. The Fraser River return was the lowest in history,” he said. “We talk about the devastation that forest fires cause in the north, well, this rises to that level for coastal people. It’s our food, our culture, our way of life.”

The Conservatives 97 members in the last parliament rose to argue against the carbon tax 748 times in question period, he says, but never once in favor of helping Pacific salmon.

Johns rose 652 times during his first four years, compared to former MP James Lunney’s 660 times in 15 years.

“I rose to mention Nuu-chah-nulth 48 times, Lunney rose zero,” he said. “Rising to speak in the house gives a voice to the needs and concerns of people in the riding. Under the Conservatives they had no voice. They were not represented.”

The NDP, he says, are pledging a public dental plan and pharmacare, while the Conservatives promise deep tax cuts.

“It’s a clear choice,” he said.

 

Predicts no pipeline

Johns is also confident the TransMountain pipeline won’t be built.

“The opposition of coastal people is too strong. Local people always win,” he said. “Justin Trudeau has underestimated the will of coastal people.”

Johns wants to address housing issues next. In the 1970 and 1980s, there was 10 percent of housing available at non-market rates. Today it’s only four percent. In Europe, it’s 30 percent. The NDP has pledged to build 500,000 housing units to get Canada back to the 10 percent level.

And he says the NDP will fight the inequality that has grown under recent governments, and inject fairness. Their platform includes a one percent tax on every million dollars of wealth over $20 million, a plan that would raise $70 billion over 10 years.

“We’re asking them to pay a little bit more se we can do pharmacare, dental care and fund early childhood education,” he said. “We need to pull together to make our nation work for everyone.

This article has been updated.

 

 

 

 

 

ADVANCE VOTING DATES FOR COURTENAY-ALBERNI AND NORTH-ISLAND POWELL RIVER RIDINGS

Friday, October 11, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Monday, October 14, 2019

Or before Oct. 15 at the Elections Canada office at 2435 Mansfield Drive
Courtenay BC V9N2M2

 

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