CVRD Chair Hutchins and Director’s Hired Former Administrator Frank Raimondo To Put The CVRD Back On Track

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

The CVRD had become a monster without a mission under the guidance of former CAO Warren Jones, and the too timid by half elected representatives entrusted with providing effective and accountable governance in the Cowichan Valley.

By all measures the non stop series of cock-ups seemed as out of control as the management and coaching staff of the hapless Vancouver Canucks.

The mind numbing performance of our elected officials who seem to think that vigorous debate, lively exchanges of opinions and viewpoints were somehow, well wrong, contributed in no small way to the malaise and straight out incompetence that became the personality of the CVRD in its’ entirety.

The Chair and Directors, to their credit, finally bite the bullet and fired the CAO who had ushered in the corporate model of governance. Up against it they brought back the sometimes cranky, but always effective former longtime administrator Frank Raimondo.

Bob McDonald longtime recycling guy has been relieved of his duties.

Bob McDonald Image Credit: News Leader Pictorial File

While the ongoing restructuring and dismissals seem to be well underway the elected folks must share the burden of allowing the organizations unprecedented and unwarranted growth.

Raimondo must now try to sort it out if his six month term if is to be a worthwhile endeavour.

So far at least two significant firings have taken place since he was brought in to sort out the mess that was left.

The first and most significant was the CVRD Board’s firing of CAO Warren Jones who was comforted with a $335,000 payout.

Then under Raimondo’s watch came the mysterious dismissal of mid level manager David Leitch, and on Thursday longtime CVRD recycling guy Bob McDonald was shown the door.

Frank Raimondo was brought in to put the CVRD back together again,

Frank Raimondo was brought in to put the CVRD back together again,

McDonald and Engineering Manager Brian Dennison stick handled the ill fated Eco Depot debacle which in itself left political watchers gasping.

Here we had an Engineer and a Recycling Technician pressed into action to conduct a pretend public process of engagement with the community who were understandably not having it.

The Planning Department was having no part of it either. They knew full well  that the CVRD did not have the zoning in place to proceed and they were obviously not about to join in the ‘Earth is Flat’ exercise that dominated, at great expense, the local political affairs of the community for over two years.

Mercifully, the Supreme Court explained the fippin’ obvious to them, that they did not have the authority to proceed and the court ordered costs to be paid back to the community activists who had fund raised and forced them into court.

Yes, this is history, but Bob McDonald played a key role in that effort. He was thrust forward by the politicians into a role that he was both unsuited for and untrained to do. Now he is another former management casualty.

This surviving ex CVRD Director smells a return of the bid to build a South Cowichan Eco Depot in the air.

In time we will learn the real story here, but that is my sense of it at this stage.

North Cowichan Council Faceoff Against Echo Heights Preservationists

Don Maroc - Cowichan Conversations Contributor

By Don Maroc

With the public seating area of the North Cowichan Municipal council
chambers filled with Chemainus residents wanting to leave the fifty-
plus acres of Echo Heights forest land undisturbed, the council voted
four to two for first and second reading of bylaw No. 3542, to start
the process to rezone 20 percent (about ten acres) for residential use.

After six years of municipal councils slowly backing down from
developing 100 percent of the site to the present 20 percent in an
effort to find local support, the residents, led by the Chemainus
Residents’ Association (CRA) with their scientific and legal advisors,
and the Penelakut First Nation stood unyielding, demanding
preservation of every acre, every tree of their beloved public forest.

Penelakut Chief Earl Jack explained, “You’ll never find another like
it, let us have the land like it is.”

Gesturing toward the crowd Peter Brady challenged the council, “These
are the people who show up, they are who you should listen to.”

Encouraged by Brady, members of the crowd murmured, “You don’t listen
to us.”

Councillors Ruth Hartmann and Al Seibring took offense. Hartmann
snarled that she has patiently listened for six years. Seibring said
he listens to everything that residents say but does not always agree
with them.

It seemed to be a semantic disagreement. The residents believe if
councillors are listening they then will follow the desires of the
voters. The politicians seem to think that “listening” is taken as
advice, to be considered in making their decision.

Before the vote for first and second reading Councillor Barb Lines
presented a motion that the planning should “show the world something
new and innovative.”

Her motion failed to receive a second, but Mayor Jon Lefebure strongly
supported Lines position. With the entire council agreeing that the
reason for selling Echo Heights land, for an expected $3 to $4
million, is needed for funding for other council plans the mayor said
“This is about innovation versus money.”

Lefebure still believes there is room for compromise but not as
planned with nearly all single family houses, built on quite small
urban lots, with back lanes to accommodate garages and coachhouse

The Mayor picked up on suggestions made by Kathy Wachs of the CRA,
“Why not co-housing or something special, which is not reflected in
this proposal, which would be a great development for an urban core.”

Lefebure and Lines would like to examine more concentrated
development, perhaps with conventional single family homes next to
existing housing. The remaining units, both single and multi-family,
concentrated on the remaining acreage with a buffer of green space all

The concentrated living buildings could be co-op housing with green
space to accommodate things like orchards, gardens, playgrounds, and
recreation areas. With a bow to the money side, Lefebure claimed that
concentrated housing requires the municipality to build much less
expensive infrastructure.

Councillor John Koury objected, “I’m concerned with the density in an
otherwise quiet neighbourhood.”

The session ground to an end with little agreement among the council
or with the residents except to have a public open house on May 8,
with a public hearing as soon as possible after that. At this point it
is still legally possible to make changes in the proposed bylaw.

Fort Nelson Chief to Gas Industry: “First Nations Will Decide on LNG”

Watch this follow up video to the stunning events in Fort Nelson from earlier this week, when Chief Sharleen Gale ousted government and industry leaders from a conference discussing the benefits and impacts of BC’s proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

Gale was reacting to a surprise move by the BC Liberal government to gut environmental reviews for gas plants, which an apologetic Environment Minister Mary Polak reversed just hours after the events in Fort Nelson.

More as carried in the Common Sense Canadian.

Andrew Nikiforuk on the end of cheap fossil fuels

This interview courtesy of the Common Sense Canadian and  Shaw TV North Island.

John Twigg interviews award-winning energy journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk on his latest book, The Energy of Slaves. “The era of cheap hydrocarbons is gone,” says Nikiforuk.

We’re now into the difficult and ugly stuff – and it’s expensive. It’s going to affect the size of the middle class, which is already beginning to shrink.

Nikiforuk spoke to Twigg for Shaw TV North Island in Campbell River, where he is serving as the Haig Brown Institute’s writer in residence this year.

No Guarantee P3 Financing For Community Centre Will Save Money

Cowichan Coversations Contributor

Rob Douglas

Built almost 40 years ago, the Cowichan Community Centre (now known as the Island Savings Centre) provides Cowichan residents with a swimming pool, hockey arena, gymnasium, library, art gallery, and a performing arts theatre.

Local officials anticipate the facility will require significant renovations or replacement within the next decade-and-a-half, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District has already begun setting aside cash.

Replacing the Island Savings Centre will not come cheap, and could cost upwards of $60 million. It should come as no surprise that some of our municipal politicians are already discussing a private-public partnership, or P3, as a cost-effective way to ease the tax burden on property owners.

But is a public-private partnership the right approach? Do these models actually save us money in the long-term, or are they really geared towards enriching private interests on the public dime?

imagesPublic-private partnerships have been a popular model for big infrastructure projects since the 1990s, not just in Canada but right across the industrialized world.

P3s often involve contracting a private consortium to design, construct, operate, maintain and finance a major infrastructure project, such as a hospital or bridge.

Contracts are often 20 or 30 years in length. Proponents of this model argue it transfers risk to the private sector, while providing lower-cost and higher-quality public infrastructure.

P3s may sound like a good idea, but there is growing evidence that they may be far less effective than is often assumed.

UnkcfcnownA recent University of Toronto study analyzed 28 such projects in Ontario worth more than $7 billion, and found costs were on average 16 per cent higher than conventional contracts. Why?

Because private companies typically borrow at a higher interest rate than government, and often spend more on lawyers and consultants.

Other studies have similarly questioned the advantages of P3s.

Analysis done for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities found there is insufficient evidence to show P3s are more cost-effective or produce higher quality service than traditional contracting.

And research by two business professors from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University on several P3s across Canada found governments often fail to transfer risk to the private sector, especially when construction costs are higher than anticipated and governments are forced to bail out the contractor.

ima sgesYet many political leaders at the local, provincial and federal level continue to trumpet P3s, perhaps because they keep big capital expenditures off the books and avoid the appearance of debt.

Either way, the public pays the full costs of building and operating these infrastructure projects. It’s just a matter of when.

If our elected officials are serious about pursuing a public-private partnership for the Island Savings Centre, let’s hope they take a close look at the evidence first. Because saving a few bucks now may end up costing us a lot more in the long run.

Rob Douglas is Constituency President of the Cowichan Valley NDP. He is a regular contributor to Cowichan Conversations and can be reached at


Six pieces of ID and still not allowed to vote-Elizabeth May

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

The controversy swirling around the democratic right to vote has been increasing in its velocity. Canadians are recognizing that this plan targets voters who are unlikely to vote for the Conservatives.

This abomination is right out of US Republican Karl Rove’s playbook and has no place in a democracy.

Ironically the illegal activities of Harper Conservatives resulted in toughening up election procedures but in truth this act handcuffs Election Canada Officials and allows the lawbreakers free rein.

Here is Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s take on it as was published in the Victoria Times Colonist.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

Pollsters are now bringing in the news that Canadians do not care if our election laws are changed to advantage the party in power. I do not believe that is the case.

What is the case is that the abuse crystallized in C-23, the so-called “Fair Elections Act,” has not yet been explained. Based on the soporific tones with which Pierre Poilievre repeats his mantra that “the average Canadian thinks it is reasonable that someone should produce proof of identity in order to be allowed to vote,” this particular formulation went through focus-group testing.

In the evidence-free zone that is the current Prime Minister’s Office, from which all legislative stratagems emerge, polling and focus groups have replaced experts and empirical data.

Read the full Op-ed piece here

The Vanishing Kinder Morgan Hearings

Reporter Emma Gilchrist reports for Desmog Blog  

Oiltanker-VancouverA lawyer representing the City of Burnaby says the National Energy Board (NEB) has turned its review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline into a “mere paperwork exercise” by cutting all cross-examination from the process.

“We were expecting that there would be public hearings and cross-examination of the evidence,” Gregory McDade said at a City of Burnaby information session last week. “There are no hearings … There will be no public examination of Kinder Morgan’s evidence whatsoever.”

Read More

More Maroc Messaging For BC NDP’s John Horgan

An Addendum to A Public Letter to John Horgan, MLA, Next Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition

Don Maroc - Cowichan Conversations Contributor

Don Maroc

You’re right John, the original letter was loaded with enough responsibilities without adding more but a couple of your potential friends pointed out omissions.

Alexandra Morton, the indomitable champion of B.C.’s wild salmon runs, pointed to the lack of mention of salmon farming.

She is particularly interested in open net pens filled with Atlantic salmon, often sick and covered with lice, located in the path of young wild salmon just leaving their river birthplace headed for the open ocean.

 John Horgan MLA and possibly the next BC NDP Leader.

John Horgan MLA and possibly the next BC NDP Leader.

She recalls The Special Legislative Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture set up by Premier Gordon Campbell in 2006, which you would certainly recall John, the chairman was Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin. Committee membership included four Liberal MLA’s and four NDP MLA’s

Alexandra Morton

Alexandra Morton

The following year the committee recommended the Provincial Legislature take action to get the salmon out of the salt water and onto dry land.

In Ms, Morton’s words they would have to:

1 – Rescind the provincial licences of occupation required by each farm. Legally these can be revoked in 60 days, with no compensation to the companies if it is in the public interest.  Use the Cohen Commission recommendation 15- 17 as the basis that removing salmon farms from wild salmon migration routes is in the public interest.

2- meet with the BC land based aquaculture industry and see what they need.  They will flourish once the dirty, cheap, net-pen industry (which is just three Norwegian companies in BC) is mandated out of the water. The seafood markets want sustainable seafood.”

salmon-are-sacred-mediumWe don’t have to get rid of the salmon farming industry, just get the foreign fish into tanks on the shore where they can’t harm our precious wild salmon, the spiritual icon of the B.C. coast. It might even create a healthier environment, causing less disease among the farm salmon and be more profitable in the long run.

Another comment came from the scholarly and irascible editor of the Gold River Record newspaper Jerry West, who wants the NDP leadership to collectively support their Sustainable B.C. policy.


Jerry West-Publisher The Record

Jerry West-Publisher
The Record

Twice passed as NDP party policy by province-wide votes, according to Editor West, “Sustainable BC is a vision for our province dedicated to the principles of sustainability which secures for present and future generations the benefits of a healthy environment and a decent, just and sustainable society.”

Based on twelve principles, such as Social Equity, Protection of the ‘commons’, Ecosystem protection, and Resource Conservation, Sustainable B.C. is a bold statement to protect Beautiful B.C. from the rapacious greed of corporate exploitation.

West spells out his personal directions for Horgan: “ He needs to adhere absolutely to Sustainable BC so that every thing we do is passed through absolutely to Sustainable BC so that every thing we do is passed through the sustainable lens and does no further damage to the province.

He needs to understand that growth and sustainability are not compatible in an already over grown society, and that repairing and funding the social safety net must come from redistribution of wealth, not increased exploitation of the already stressed environment.

This party policy John, is one you can wear as a badge of honour.

It would be courteous of us to now allow you some peace but there are too many people who want you as their champion against the Harper/Christy Hordes’ madcap extraction of our natural resources and the environment be damned.


Jessica Ernst Exposes Drilling and Fracking Crimes in Alberta

Richard 'Hub' Hughes- Political Blogger

Richard ‘Hub’ Hughes- Political Blogger

This powerful video is an absolute must see. It shows the threat and damages done to Albertan’s water through fracking.

Of course you see damn little of it in the corporate media and those like Jennifer Ernst who oppose fracking are being attacked, demeaned and threatened with lawsuits.

The residents have been lied to as others have wherever fracking takes place. Finally in Lethbridge, Alberta the community and their University and City Council are ‘Saying No!’

Premier Clark a friend of Oil and Gas Fracking in BC

Premier Clark a friend of Oil and Gas Fracking in BC

In BC fracking plays a significant role in the oil and gas plays today and in the future unless we too discover the power of NO!

The BC Liberals have not backed away from this insidious attack, quite the opposite. The Christy Clark government has pegged their and our futures to the unconventional Liquid Natural Gas play.

They must answer questions and be pressured for answers regarding the life threatening risks connected to the fracking that has been underway and is planned on an unimaginable scale. The methane gas produced in the process runs counter to reducing our footprint and reducing the threat to our environment.

The BC NDP of course are not in power but they must stand up and conduct effective opposition to this unconscionable threat now. That is their job as the ‘Official Opposition.’

If neither the BC Liberals or the BC NDP will stand up and protect us then who will?

The BC Greens make statements contrary to the present practice but they are without significant power, at least for the time being.

You can bet that the Christy Clark crew will not put our health and our water before the profits of her corporate friends in Oil and Gas.

Horgan knows the play and must lead the fight tp protect us from fracking in BC

Horgan knows the play and must lead the fight to protect us from fracking in BC

We must call on John Horgan and the BC NDP to ring the bell and stand up against the corruption and life threatening practices that are part and parcel of the present and future of the unconventional fracking pursuit of the natural gas in BC.

We know that the BC Liberals will never respond and act decisively in the public interest. Still we must demand that Premier Clark and her ‘Energy Business Accommodator’ Rich Coleman, act now to save our water and protect our health?

It is time to act before it is too late. Call or email your MLA’s and demand that they do their jobs and put an end to fracking in BC!

Take a few minutes to watch this important video to see what is happening in Alberta and then consider the threat that we face in BC!

We do not have to let the ‘Alberta experience’ happen here!



Rick Mercer Rants About The ‘Fair Election Act’