Rob Thompson: SD 71 trustee candidate looks at the future of education post-pandemic

Rob Thompson: SD 71 trustee candidate looks at the future of education post-pandemic

Rob Thompson, candidate for the Area C position on the Comox Valley School Board  |  Submitted photo

Rob Thompson: SD 71 trustee candidate looks at the future of education post-pandemic

By Guest Writer

BY ROB THOMPSON

At this stage, we should be preparing for worst-case scenario. Covid-Coronavirus is showing no signs of dissipating soon. The remainder of this item is offered with absolute respect and is in no way intended to make light of the situation. People are passing away from this disease.

That said, the pandemic eventually will loosen its grasp on our lives and our economy, and we will have fiscal liabilities remaining at every level of government – Federal, Provincial, Municipal. One way of offsetting at least some of these deficits will be to use the most cost-effective methods for the delivery of services.

Online-virtual education at Kindergarten-Grade 12 level seems set to be one of these cost-effective services.

I did an MA in Leadership at Royal Roads on the cusp of this century, completing a thesis in implementing online education (k-12). I was then hired by RRU to, over the next decade-plus. instruct cohorts of administrators, both domestic and international, in which technologies-programs at the time best suited K-12 learners – and to instruct teachers, both domestic and international, in how best to utilize the technologies selected to engage K-12 learners to maximum effect.

My situation was therefore balanced positively, as I was working with K-12 administrators and teachers at the same time I was working with secondary school students themselves day-to-day.

I am in the process of completing my Education Doctorate, with a thesis on the topic of what K-12 learners in this current (2020) decade bring to the table in terms of preferences, skills, knowledge and attributes. The majority proportion of these students seem well prepared to maximize their learning in online-virtual environments, quite possibly reducing the need for as many face-to-face learning sessions and therefore reducing the need for as many face-to-face spaces.

I don’t claim to know everything about these complex areas of education.

Nor do I know everything about every one of the learners in the K-12 pipeline. They are your daughters and your sons: you know them better than anyone. So we will need you to step up and engage in the conversation. If elected as a Trustee for SD71, I will invite you to participate in this conversation.

There is nothing to say there is not a ‘sweet spot’ (a mix of online-virtual and face-to-face learning experiences) that extends each child’s learning to the maximum possible for that child.

With that in mind, space is space. Space can be used by any number of processes. Down island, the kilns of a no longer functioning mill have been converted to both work and office spaces for small businesses. Imagine a scenario where fewer face-to-face learning experiences mean consolidation of existing ‘schools’ into fewer buildings – leaving the remaining buildings for, well, housing, or offices, or other necessary, potential revenue-creating activities.

Education for every child remains my priority – and my focus should I be elected Trustee.

That includes the possibilities that might become available for our indigenous children. Imagine the possibilities of an indigenous child from our community joining an online-virtual environment shared by other indigenous children located internationally, with all of that access to countless centuries of ‘ways of knowing’ and techniques of knowledge dissemination.

All of this is possible. Vote for me, and let’s fire up the conversation.

 

AREA C VOTERS TO ELECT NEW SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE

Due to the resignation of the formerly elected Area C representative, voters will go to the polls on Saturday, Dec. 12 to choose a new school board trustee. The six candidates are:

Randi Baldwin, Kandice Bielert, Monica Parkin, Terence Pruden, Cristi May Sacht and Robert Thompson.

All candidates are welcome to submit articles for publication on this website.

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More Education | News | Politics
NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard: voters given chance to choose long-term stability

NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard: voters given chance to choose long-term stability

Ronna-Rae Leonard  |  2017 Decafnation file photo

NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard: voters given chance to choose long-term stability

By George Le Masurier

Seeking her second term as the NDP MLA for the Courtenay-Comox riding, Ronna-Rae Leonard does not apologize for her party calling an Oct. 24 snap election.

Leonard says the call was necessary to solidify the NDP government’s successful record on dealing with the pandemic and creating economic stability.

“Our collaboration with the Green Party has resulted in the most ambitious climate action plan in North America,” she told Decafnation via a telephone interview. “But the fragility of a minority government is always at risk and that puts three years of forward progress at risk.”

This election, Leonard said, gives the people of British Columbia the chance to set a stable course for the province’s long-term recovery.

And she does not agree with the accusations that her party has broken its 2017 campaign promises on old growth forest logging, liquid natural gas (LNG) or to shelve the controversial Site C dam project.

The NDP sent the Site C project to an independent commission for analysis and so the public could see the facts of its status.

“That was the promise, and it was kept,” she said. “But the Liberals had pushed the project beyond the point of no return and without any transparent analysis.”

On old-growth logging, Leonard notes that public support has swung back and forth, pro and con, over many generations. But she and NDP leadership have committed to adopting the 14 recommendations contained in the report from the BC Old-Growth Strategic Review Panel, which was based on public and stakeholder consultations between November 2019 to January 2020, and released last month.

Among the key recommendations, she said are a promise to give indigenous peoples a place at the table, and the introduction of specific criteria by which to analyze old-growth logging proposals.

Likewise, on LNG, she said her party never promised to ban LNG projects in BC.

“We criticized the Liberals for their wide open, sell off BC policies, from which no prosperity was ever delivered,” she said. “We didn’t go chasing LNG, it came to us and we’ve developed five criteria that hold LNG to the highest standards in the world and that will meet our climate goals.”

 

LONG-TERM CARE BEDS

The NDP has no plan to push private long-term care homeowners out of the market. Instead, Leonard says her party will focus on stricter oversight of private operators and on more training and improved working conditions for care home workers.

“What we inherited were facilities privatized to profit on the backs of employees and seniors,” she said. “We’re committed to improving the standard of care and we’re working toward that.”

Leonard noted that in the history of BC, only one care home had ever been taken over by public control. But in the last three years, the NDP government has taken over three.

And while the Liberals had promised only 70 new long-term care beds for the Comox Valley, the NDP has more than doubled that number to 150.

“Under the Liberals, long-term care was privatized, worker rights were taken away as were jobs, and wages were lowered so workers had to hold multiple part-time jobs to live,” she said. “Our promise is for more oversight, $1.4 billion to make sure every senior has a single room and more training and higher wages for workers.”

The NDP platform includes the hiring of 7,000 new health care workers, and 2,000 of those will be trained specifically for long-term care.

Leonard pointed out that since 2018, the NDP has partnered with North Island College to fund a state-of-the-art long-term care training facility in a real hospital setting at the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital building in Comox.

 

NO COMMITMENT ON PATHOLOGY SERVICES

But Leonard would make no commitment on returning onsite clinical pathology services to Comox Valley and Campbell River hospitals.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority has eliminated clinical pathologist positions on the North Island and moved them to a private corporation of Victora doctors. Physicians and health care workers in both communities have warned of the dangers, including long wait times for biopsy results, and the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital Board has written to VIHA, the Premier and the Minister of Health demanding that the services be reinstated.

But Leonard called the issue “not clear cut,” and that it was a “challenge to work with different levels of authority,” referring to VIHA leadership.

“I’ve heard both sides of that issue and I don’t know the best path,” she said. “I’ll leave that to those in a position to know.”

 

RESPONSE TO CRITICS

Leonard’s election opponents have alluded to public criticisms that she has not been responsive to her constituents or to local governments on issues like clinical pathology services.

“I think this is politically motivated criticism,” she said. “I always take action whenever an issue is brought to me. I do the best I can do. I realize there are a lot of different views out there I’m here to make life better for everyone, not just the top one percent.”

 

ADDRESSING YOUNG VOTERS

Leonard hopes young voters will recognize the beneficial changes her party has brought made for post-secondary students.

Under the Liberal tuitions tripled, she said, but the NDP has brought back and expanded the student access grant program in February of 2019. Now, once again, 40,000 students per year are eligible for a $4,000 interest-free student loan.
The NDP also expanded the access grants to include students enrolled in diploma and certificate programs, while before they applied only to four-year baccalaureate degrees programs.

Leonard said the NDP also improved the grant program by raising the allowable maximum family household income, which increased the number of eligible students.

 

BIO FACTS

Born into a military family, Ronna-Rae Leonard grew up in the Comox Valley. She served three terms on the Courtenay City Council. She won the 2017 provincial elections, her first try at provincial office, by a slim margin over the BC Liberal Party candidate, Jim Benninger. BC Premier John Horgan appointed Leonard as the NDP Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors this year.

 

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR COMMENTS

Decafnation encourages comments and a free exchange of ideas about our articles. Please limit your comments to fewer than 200 words. Longer comments will be removed. If you wish to submit an article for our commentary section, please send it to george@decafnation.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCT. 24 PROVINCIAL ELECTION INFORMATION

The 2020 provincial election takes place on Oct. 24.

Advance voting begins at various locations on Thursday, Oct. 15 and continues every day through Wednesday, Oct. 21. A schedule and list of polling stations are posted on the Elections BC website.

Candidates in the Courtenay-Comox riding are incumbent Ronna-Rae Leonard (NDP), Gillian Anderson (BC Greens) and Brennan Day (BC Liberals).

In the last election (2017), 66.89 percent of the riding’s 43,671 registered voters cast a ballot. The results were:

NDP Ronna-Rae Leonard received 10,886 votes or 37.36%

BC Liberal Jim Benninger — 10,697 votes or 36.72%

Green Ernie Sellentin — 5,351 votes or 18.37%

Leah McCulloch — 2,201 votes or 7.55%

 

 

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Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

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BC Liberals Brennan Day: economic recovery calls for bold ideas and actions

BC Liberals Brennan Day: economic recovery calls for bold ideas and actions

Brennan Day and family  |  Submitted photo

BC Liberals Brennan Day: economic recovery calls for bold ideas and actions

By George Le Masurier

As the youngest of the three Courtenay-Comox riding candidates seeking election to the provincial legislature, 36-year-old Brennan Day hopes his 15 years of experience in business management and the oil and gas industry will appeal to voters.

The BC Liberal nominee is also the most fiscally conservative candidate. During his 2017 campaign for a seat on Courtenay City Council, Day advocated for more responsible local government spending and lower municipal taxes.

It’s an approach to governing and economic prosperity that he says stretches back to his youth as a graduate of Highland High School.

“I, like many others my age, graduated high school after a decade of poor economic growth in BC. Career grade jobs were scarce in the Comox Valley, and I moved away like most for opportunities elsewhere,” Day told Decafnation in a telephone interview last week.

Now Day sees an even greater economic crisis that calls for bold ideas and action.

“We are effectively dealing with the worst economic fallout in generations. It is government’s role to maintain services and ensure we can rebound quickly,” he said. “My strong management background and international experience gives me a broad knowledge to rely on.”

Day believes the BC Liberal Party’s proposals to eliminate the PST tax and end the ICBC insurance monopoly are the kind of big ideas that will get the BC economy moving again.

 

ONE YEAR PST RELIEF

Day supports his party’s promise to eliminate the seven percent PST tax for one year and then bring it back at three percent for at least another year or until the economy fully recovers from the COVID pandemic’s economic impact.

“The PST elimination for one year gives lower-income earners the most benefit as a percentage, and encourages middle-income earners to spend on larger purchases,” he said. “Once the economy has recovered sufficiently, the PST will be restored.”

The two-year PST promise would reduce provincial revenues by about $10.8 billion, but Day says that won’t negatively affect government programs.

“The BC Liberals will not be looking to cut spending; we need to take bold action to give consumers confidence in the economy quickly to save our jobs and small businesses,” he said.

Day did not say how the government will balance its budget with such a substantial loss in revenue, although he said the PST reduction would allow businesses to reinvest and “get the economy moving again.”

 

ICBC: A FAILED SCHEME

Day believes his party’s plan to eliminate the ICBC monopoly on car insurance by opening the market up to private insurance companies will result in lower annual premiums.

“ICBC is a failed insurance scheme that’s not protecting anyone,” he said. “The goal was to keep rates affordable and protect victims, but ICBC is doing neither.”

Day says opening up the car insurance market is not an attempt to shut down ICBC as some opponents have suggested. They say private insurers will cream off the lowest-risk drivers, and leave ICBC with those who present the highest risk, including young drivers.

“We’re just forcing ICBC to be competitive,” he said. “That should bring down rates for everyone.”

And he says the NDP’s recent introduction of no-fault auto insurance has taken away the rights of catastrophically injured victims to seek higher compensation awards through legal action.

Day says that occupational therapists have told him it’s difficult and “troubling” to get care for seriously injured car accident victims.

“People have lost their advocacy under the no-fault system,” he said.

Under a public-private system, people could use the legal system to seek larger compensation awards than are currently allowed under ICBC’s no-fault plan.

 

PRIVATE CARE HOMES NEEDED

Day believes there is bi-partisan support and understanding of the need for more long-term care beds and a higher standard for quality care.

“But we need to be realistic,” he said. “We can’t rely on the public system alone. We need a dual system of both public and private facilities.”

The BC Liberals agree that more oversight is needed, Day said, because in some facilities the “conditions are reprehensible.”

That’s why he backs his party’s promise to spend $1 billion over the next five years to replace and upgrade existing facilities to ensure that “safe and dignified” options are available to seniors.

In the meantime, Day says his party will provide a $7,000 per year credit for home care to seniors who want to stay home as long as possible.

“With the sheer enormity of the demand for long-term care beds that we know is coming, the public process is too slow,” he said. “Private operators are needed because of the speed at which we need to build new facilities.”

 

NORTH ISLAND HOSPITALS

Day does not agree with the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s trend toward centralizing some health care services in Victoria. VIHA has eliminated onsite clinical pathology services in Campbell River and the Comox Valley.

“In hindsight, splitting the hospital between two communities wasn’t the best decision,” he said. “We need to treat the Comox Valley hospital as a regional hospital.”

Centralizing medical services may make sense in urban areas, but doesn’t best serve rural communities.

He thinks stronger advocacy within the provincial government is needed.

 

A MORE RESPONSIVE MLA

Day promises to be responsive to Comox Valley constituents and a strong voice in Victoria, something he believes has been lacking.

“I’m trying to run a positive campaign and not take shots, but our campaign hears almost every day that Ronna-Rae’s responsiveness has been less than optimal,” he said.

The feedback he’s received is that MLA Leonard is “generally not available … phone calls are not returned … And it’s not just from one sector of the community.”

“We need better vocal representation in Victoria,” he said.

 

AGRICULTURE DECIMATED

Day says he was disappointed that agriculture wasn’t brought up during a recent Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce all-candidates meeting.

“It’s a huge driver of our economy,” he said. “But it’s been decimated by the NDP.”

He said dairy farmers have lost processing facilities and meat producers have difficulty getting cattle on and off Vancouver Island due to BC Ferries’ new regulations about live cargo.

Day said he’d work with the agriculture community on building the infrastructure needed “to get their products on our shelves.”

He also criticized the NDP’s Bill 52 and Bill 15, which were enacted, respectively, to stop monster homes on farmland and to prevent landowners from constantly applying to remove their land from the ALR.
He says Bill 52 had significant unintended effects here locally.

“Previously, secondary residences were permitted under ALR zoning for farm workers or family members; this blanket bill prevented this from being an option,” Day said. “Generational farming families are now no longer permitted to construct a secondary dwelling to house their family members or workers.”

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

The BC Liberals have yet to release a climate change policy ahead of the Oct. 24 election, but Day says it’s coming.

“The environment is not to be defended just by the left, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure we are making smart and strategic changes to preserve the natural beauty of the Comox Valley for our children.,” he said.

 

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR COMMENTS

Decafnation encourages comments and a free exchange of ideas about our articles. Please limit your comments to fewer than 200 words. Longer comments will be removed. If you wish to submit an article for our commentary section, please send it to george@decafnation.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCT. 24 PROVINCIAL ELECTION INFORMATION

The 2020 provincial election takes place on Oct. 24.

Advance voting begins at various locations on Thursday, Oct. 15 and continues every day through Wednesday, Oct. 21. A schedule and list of polling stations are posted on the Elections BC website.

Candidates in the Courtenay-Comox riding are incumbent Ronna-Rae Leonard (NDP), Gillian Anderson (BC Greens) and Brennan Day (BC Liberals).

In the last election (2017), 66.89 percent of the riding’s 43,671 registered voters cast a ballot. The results were:

NDP Ronna-Rae Leonard received 10,886 votes or 37.36%

BC Liberal Jim Benninger — 10,697 votes or 36.72%

Green Ernie Sellentin — 5,351 votes or 18.37%

Leah McCulloch — 2,201 votes or 7.55%

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

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Greens Gillian Anderson: stop fossil fuel subsidies, only public long-term care beds

Greens Gillian Anderson: stop fossil fuel subsidies, only public long-term care beds

BC Green candidate Gillian Anderson waving signs at the Comox Valley Farmers Market  |  George Le Masurier photo

Greens Gillian Anderson: stop fossil fuel subsidies, only public long-term care beds

By George Le Masurier

BC Green Party candidate Gillian Anderson used to be a life-long supporter of the New Democratic Party. She sought this riding’s NDP nomination in 2017 and, after losing to Ronna-Rae Leonard, campaigned for her.

But Anderson says there were no sour grapes about her move to the Greens.

“I left the NDP because John Horgan broke all of his environmental promises,” she told Decafnation in a telephone interview last week. “To stay and support the NDP would be endorsing those lies and destructive acts, which are increasing, not decreasing BC’s carbon emissions.”

She says the NDP lied to British Columbians when they promised to shut down the costly Site C dam project, when they reversed their position and became a “cheerleader” for liquid natural gas (LNG) and when they allowed private companies to log more than a million acres of the province’s old-growth forest.

“If you tell lies to get elected, how can people believe anything you say?” she said.

Anderson was no less blunt about the Oct. 24 election call.

“I have to smile when the NDP talks about the province needing a stable government,” she said. “Horgan had a perfectly solid agreement with the Greens. He didn’t need to unethically cancel that agreement and call an election.”

The 2017 election cost British Columbians about $40 million, but because of necessary safety protocols during the COVID pandemic, the 2020 election will cost even more.

“Plus, with more than 430,000 mail-in ballots, we won’t know the results of the election until maybe late November. That effectively freezes everything,” she said.

She said the Greens would be more responsible than the NDP or BC Liberals about how they spend the province’s money.

The Greens would end the “billions and billions wasted on Site C” and the millions of taxpayers money given as subsidies to the fossil fuel industries, she said.

“If we keep wasting it propping up the dying, sunset fossil fuel industry or on unneeded dams, then there’s not enough for the things that are really important to people,” she said. “We (the Greens) would take a holistic view and reallocate money away from ridiculous mega-projects and use it to create a sustainable community where everyone has a home and is safe.”

 

LONG-TERM CARE BEDS

Anderson said the Greens have a clear position on long-term care facilities and the growing demand for more capacity: They would stop public funding of beds in privately owned facilities, and divert that money to more effective strategies for improving the quality of long-term care.

The Greens are the only party to distance itself from private care homes, which have come under increased scrutiny for poor working conditions, insufficient care hours and low wages paid to health care staff.

“The fact the COVID virus is frequent in our long-term care homes comes in part because employees have to work multiple jobs, because wages in private homes are so low. That shows that we are not funding long-term care properly,” she said.

She said all of the new beds promised for the Comox Valley are already spoken for. “Capacity has been outstretched by demand,” she said.

The Green platform includes funding a national dementia strategy and using money saved from mega-projects to fund even more new beds.

Anderson said her party would put additional funding into home care support programs, including rent subsidies. She said it’s less expensive to support people to stay at home and it’s also better for seniors’ mental and emotional health.

And the Greens would “recognize long-term care workers as the professionals they are and pay them the wages they deserve.”

She scoffed at the NDPs sudden “grand pronouncements” about long-term care since the election was called.

“The NDP had 40 months to tackle this problem,” she said. “But where were they when the Comox Valley Seniors Village had a major lapse of care and standards that resulted in a high-risk rating from Island Health? Where were they when there were 22 contraventions of regulations since 2018, filthy conditions and falsified records, key positions left vacant and a staff strike over poor wages?”

 

NO SUPPORT FOR TAX CUT

Anderson said the Greens would not support the Liberals proposals to eliminate the PST tax for a year and reduce it after that. She said that would take $10.8 billion out of provincial revenue and would benefit wealthy people who make most of the big-ticket purchases.

“The last time Liberals cut taxes, they froze social service spending for years, from which we haven’t fully recovered and that partly laid the groundwork for today’s issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health suffering,” she said.

That nearly $11 billion could be spent on long-term care, child care and other services such as public transit and after school programs for at-risk kids.

She said the money could be used to help support stressed families. It costs more to remove a child from a stressed family than giving them direct financial support, and it also creates happier and more loving families.

 

YOUTH STRESSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE

The Green Party’s focus on clean energy, eliminating fossil fuels and other climate actions will help today’s youth who are “deeply troubled” by the long-term impacts of climate change, Anderson says.

“There’s a certain hopeless dream affecting many young people today,” she said. “It’s an overwhelming slow-moving trainwreck coming their way and they feel that adults aren’t doing anything to stop it.”

The NDP’s record is fueling that worry, she says, and young people feel betrayed by their government.

“They read that the permafrost is thawing and will release methane into the atmosphere and they’re wondering what kind of world they’ll have when they reach their 40s and 50s,” she said.

Electing more Greens to public office would help reduce that stress, she said, because they know we’re going to address their issues.

 

PLATFORM FOCUSED ON PEOPLE

Like other Green Party policies, its proposed restructuring of municipal financing is designed to create more livable communities for people. At present, local governments rely mostly on property tax, which limits the funds available for projects to create walkable neighbourhoods and better public transit.

Anderson says the Greens would bring in free child care for children under three and fund early childhood education for three- and four-year-olds. The party would also provide $350 a month for stay-at-home parents and start exploring the feasibility of a general four-day workweek.

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR COMMENTS

Decafnation encourages comments and a free exchange of ideas about our articles. Please limit your comments to fewer than 200 words. Longer comments will be removed. If you wish to submit an article for our commentary section, please send it to george@decafnation.net.

 

 

 

 

 

OCT. 24 PROVINCIAL ELECTION INFORMATION

The 2020 provincial election takes place on Oct. 24.

Advance voting begins at various locations on Thursday, Oct. 15 and continues every day through Wednesday, Oct. 21. A schedule and list of polling stations are posted on the Elections BC website.

Candidates in the Courtenay-Comox riding are incumbent Ronna-Rae Leonard (NDP), Gillian Anderson (BC Greens) and Brennan Day (BC Liberals).

In the last election (2017), 66.89 percent of the riding’s 43,671 registered voters cast a ballot. The results were:

NDP Ronna-Rae Leonard received 10,886 votes or 37.36%

BC Liberal Jim Benninger — 10,697 votes or 36.72%

Green Ernie Sellentin — 5,351 votes or 18.37%

Leah McCulloch — 2,201 votes or 7.55%

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More Politics

Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

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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

Photo Caption

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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More Government | Politics
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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Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

Recent youth-led climate strikes in the Comox Valley indicate that climate change has become an issue in the federal election, but Conservative Byron Horner has declined an invitation to participate in an Oct. 4 candidates forum on the topic