Save Island Savings — This is not a Merger–This is a Takeover- VOTE NO!



Well they managed to get our logo right!
It’s good to be here!


Richard Hughes-Vote No To First West Takeover of Island Savings

Richard Hughes-Save Island Savings-Vote No!

Our Island Savings Credit Union Board of Directors and President CEO Rod Dewar are trying to  to sell us down the river through a take over by First West Credit Union based in Langley BC.

What is worse is that we are paying for the glossy brochures and slick video featuring Rod Dewar telling us that this is good for us and has to be done.

If there are problems then they are of his making and took place under his watch!

Yes, we need changes. We need to take control our Credit Union, end the secretive back room dealings and run an open accountable operation in the best interest of Island Savings members and staff.

President & CEO Rod Dewar

President & CEO Rod Dewar

The benefits for the top executives include a sizable yet undisclosed retirement package for President and CEO Rod Dewar who has reluctantly admitted that he is retiring.

Little wonder he is pitching with such enthusiasm. This is sell-out.  All of our assets will be transferred to the mainland. We will be a Branch Operation at best.

The staff have been sold a bill of goods. Their jobs are at risk if the so called merger is accomplished. The best bet for all of us is to vote this sellout down!


Here is a response from Dave Watkin, a retired ISCU management stafffer :

Just read the half page ad in the Cowichan Valley Citizen page 9 wherein the “Truth” from ISCU states” that local autonomy and decision-making was non-negotiable for your board!

Accordingly I read Schedule F (Amendment to the Sales Agreement) to see what they had negotiated and it seems to me that the Regional Council will only to be a “pretty face” dedicated to local business development, continuity and influence over community investment focus etc.

Not sure what that corporate speak means i.e. continuity and influence  over … but it sure doesn’t mean what they are saying in the ad that all decisions will be made locally. Is this the gift the board has given us through their “non-negotiable’ stance it’s farcical!

So when you read closer you will note at the end that the regional council are to ensure FWCU is aware of and considers local issues in decision making!!!

So basically the Regional Council meets and if they have any issues that report them to their masters in Langley for a decision.

Furthermore it closes and states quite openly that the regional council is not intended to have any direct governance-related responsibilities.




(a) Notwithstanding provisions presented under Section 2 above with respect to composition of the FWCU Board of Directors, and in keeping with its model, it would be the intent of the FWCU Board of Directors to appoint an Island Savings.

Regional Council – a special board-appointed committee dedicated to local business development, continuity and influence over community investment focus and giving, and ensuring the FWCU Board is aware of and considers local issues in decision making. Former Island Savings directors will be eligible to become members of the regional council, with the understanding that although they will be included in the FWCU board’s strategic planning processes, the regional council is not intended to have direct governance-related responsibilities.

In the first section of the ad they say that “this merger will actually help us keep your 16 branches open”. Once again a truism from the pens of ISCU.I have once again taken the liberty of copying over from the  relevant section of the sales agreement between ISCU and FWCU the following (see below).

Firstly it outlines in section (b) that staff are expected to meet the current standards of the Purchaser, which you will agree is interesting to note that they FWCU consider the staff of ISCU to be lower than them in their standards.

Or is this “Word Smithing” in the agreement a way to get rid of staff they don’t want, or need at a future date, i.e. sorry you are not meeting our current standards regardless of the extra training that we have provided.

Any reduction or downsizing will be done through “attrition” or to changing business demands. In addition to the foregoing they also outline how they will compensate any staff who they let go

(Section (g)

So no branches to be shut down YET!, however if the difficult economic and market conditions continue look out!

Isn’t this the very reason they are asking for this takeover to protect them from the cold harsh world of business!

In addition do FWCU consider ISCU to be “fat” in terms of staffing is this why the term “attrition” is introduced so if anybody quits then they just don’t replace – we have to cut costs don’t we!!


(b) It is intended that no employees of the Vendor shall be disadvantaged as a result of the merger; that is, all employees of the Vendor who are affected by the merger
shall have equal opportunities for promotion, training and personal development
and it is expected that employees of the Vendor will take the necessary skill and training development to meet the current standards of an employee of the Purchaser in a comparable position (with such training to be paid for by the Purchaser in accordance with its current policies in respect of such matters).

(f) Any requirement to rationalize the staffing model over time shall be addressed through natural attrition and in the normal course of adjusting to changing business demands; and

(g) In the event that any employee of the Vendor ceases to be employed by the Purchaser because of a reason related to the merger or for any other reason, he or she shall be entitled to a severance/retirement payment in accordance with the common law and/or any valid pre-existing employment contracts relating to length of service and payment in lieu of notice of termination of employment.


Voting Dates

Members can vote between November 5th and 12th at any ISCU Branch during business hours.



Maroc-North Cowichan Candidates Pitch Voters at Maple Bay All Candidates Meeting

Don Maroc-Political Blogger

Don Maroc-Political Blogger

A couple of hundred people jammed the Maple Bay Firehall for the
election season’s first all-candidates meeting Wednesday evening,
getting their first look at all 23 candidates competing for North
Cowichan’s six municipal council seats and the mayor’s chair.

The issue on top of most candidates’ list was taxes, principally
municipal property taxes. The voice that rang out the loudest and
clearest was big Al Siebring, one of only two sitting North Cowichan
councillors standing for re-election.

NC Councillor Al Siebring

NC Councillor Al Siebring

The weight of Siebring’s pitch came in two promises to be kept within
90 days after the election:

1) to limit the rate of increase in residential taxes to no more than
the rate of inflation,

2) to have Council undertake a comprehensive priority-setting exercise
to determine where and how we want to continue to spend money and,
more importantly, how we can agree to rein in expenditures.

Tom Walker- Seeking a seat on Council

Tom Walker- Seeking a seat on Council

Landing very close to Siebring former mayor and councillor Tom Walker,
understanding the reality of the situation, admitted that, “We can’t
promise a zero increase in taxes,” but the council must control taxes
to fit, “what was originally endorsed by the public.”

The former Ministry of Forests ranger and manager also believes the
present council’s move to decrease heavy industrial tax rates, mainly
for Catalyst Paper, and increase residential taxes was too sharp. He
wants to see at least some of that change reversed, as well as some of
the present planned expenditures delayed.

Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas

Another former councillor, Dave Haywood agreed but in a stronger
voice. His term for recent property tax increases is “skyrocketed”,
and it has to end. He noted that the compounded tax increases for 10
years on his personal property is 253 percent. He thinks prudent
management would be to “cut back on current municipal spending.” and
“avoid any residential tax increase over the next four years.”

Rob Douglas, born in the Cowichan Valley and generally identified with
politics agreed with Walker, a comfortable conservative, that one way
to resist further tax increases is to search for new sources of
revenue. For Douglas new revenue could come from industrial
development financed through an investment fund established by the

Nearly all of the 20 candidates for Council agreed that property taxes
are rising too fast, except for incumbent councillor Kate Marsh of
Chemainus, who claims that North Cowichan taxes are the eighth lowest
on Vancouver Island.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure

Although the candidates for council zeroed in on taxes, expenditures,
and tighter management, the three candidates for mayor danced lightly
around the subject of taxes. Current Mayor John Lefebure wants to
“manage tax pressures.”

John Koury, a council member who many thought would be the lead
hatchet man for cutting taxes would only state that he favoured “fair
taxation and fiscal responsibility.”

Damir Wallener

Damir Wallener

The third mayoral candidate Damir Wallener, who has a software
development firm in Chemainus, didn’t get into taxes at all, rather
encouraging growth through high tech and green tech. He would
establish a citizens oversight committee to examine all expenditures.

Perennial council candidate Joyce Behnsen has control of taxes and
spending at the top of her list. She hammered the present government
for building two roundabouts, plus curbs and sidewalks on rural
Drinkwater Road, but then not having the funds to install a sewer line
which the residents really wanted.

Ron Waller, council hopeful from Chemainus posited a simple equation
for taxes, “a dollar we spend is a dollar out of your pocket.”

Many people attending the meeting left dissatisfied with the format.
Because of the large number of candidates (23) each prospective
councillor was given two minutes and each person for mayor had three
minutes to speak. There was no question and answer period after the
brief statements. Former longtime North Cowichan councillor Scott
McIvor acting as moderator told the crowd at the end of the candidates
comments to seek out each candidate and asked questions. What most
wanted were public questions and public answers.

- 30 -

CKNW-Former BC Premier calls for a frank discussion of Canadian values

Former BC NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh

Former BC NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh

A former BC Premier says Wednesday’s terror attack in Ottawa is another sign of Canada losing the war on values.

Ujjal Dosanjh says it is time to forget being politically correct and have a frank discussion about our youth being radicalized.

“I think it has start in our schools. It has to start with every political and public leader being conscious of these issues and not pandering for votes and not being politically correct and I think that we need to speak to our children at home and we need to speak to our peoples at school young or old.”

Dosanjh says there is a dangerous element of misplaced religious understanding out there.

He says radicals are not new noting Air India, but he says it has never been on a scale like it is today.

Lori Iannidinardo Has Been An Active, Committed Director for Cowichan Bay

Cowichan Bay's Lori Iannidinardo

Cowichan Bay’s Lori Iannidinardo

For six years, Lori Iannidinardo has been an active, committed Director of Area D – Cowichan Bay. She serves on the Cowichan Watershed Board and the Parks Board, where she was Area D Chair for 11 years.  For 18 years Lori has been a coordinator for Cowichan Community Kitchens and is a founder of the Vancouver Island Logger Safety Support Group.

Ms. Iannidinardo wants to continue her work and be a strong voice on issues that people tell her matter: water, a sustainable economy, fiscal responsibility and respectful relationships.  For that reason, she is standing again for election.

She continues to work with multiple agencies to ensure we have water to drink, that fish habitat is protected and other water needs are met. The upcoming Marine Zoning Bylaw will help meet the Watershed Board target to harvest shellfish in Cowichan Bay by 2020.

She sits on the South Cowichan Water Advisory and actively supports water quality testing and ground water monitoring to have a better understanding of our aquifers.

She continues to work with the Cowichan Roundtable on issues such as Derelict Vessels and has been working with other agencies and community members on a VORR (Vessel Operating Restricted Regulation) to protect eelgrass beds in the estuary.

Ms. Iannidinardo promotes Area D as a place to do business as evidenced by the growing number of farm markets and other enterprises.  Recent statistics show that market garden farms provide just over 5 billion dollars to the Canadian economy.

She wants to ensure that farm production continues to grow and that their harvests reach the local population. The input into our economy of local businesses, restaurants, fisheries, hotels and local artisans is important.

The values of a Cittaslow community – an international designation given to Cowichan Bay in 2009—are all found in the Area. She represents Area D on the Cittaslow Cowichan Board, supporting its commitment to the stewardship of farmlands, the protection of waters, local food production, the community’s unique history and traditions and its people.

Ms. Iannidinardo has always made it her priority to listen to community concerns. She holds regular, well attended town hall meetings and takes action on what she hears.  Her approach is to work openly and transparently with clear communication.

On taxes, she knows that focusing on delivering the required services is challenging in a Regional District with the current levels of downloading from provincial and federal governments. The District takes on more responsibility without support and she will continue to remind other levels of government of their responsibilities.

Her vision is the vision expressed by the community, reflected in the new Official Community Plan (OCP) for Area D.  In 2010 a diverse group of individuals, including a representative from Cowichan Tribes, sought input from residents through workshops, focus groups, open houses and community surveys.

People got involved and expressed what really mattered.  That Plan is now in place. It is her commitment to ensure it is implemented to meet the community’s vision.

Web site: 

Twitter: @Lorilanni


Candidates Running for elected office in the Cowichan Valley and for the School District Board can email their releases to


Shawnigan Forestry Rezoning Flies in the Face of The Community Plan — It Should Be Tabled Until After the Election

Richard Hughes-Futurist

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Shawnigan’s Advisory Planning Committee (APC) unanimously rejected the plan to rezone F-1 Forest Land to Residential allowing the developer to develop 28 lots in exchange for protecting some wetlands that are already protected by the Ministry of Environment.

Outgoing Director Bruce Fraser plans to advance this rezoning at the ‘Special Board Meeting’  this Wednesday.

If the scheduled order of meetings had been maintained then the new board would be dealing with this controversial issue. It will be special alright. Strategically planned to allow time to jam this through and who knows what other surprises await us on ‘Super Wednesday’.

Shawnigan CVRD Director Bruce Fraser

Director Bruce Fraser

Although not a legal requirement, rezoning matters of this nature should be held over until the new Director is elected and sworn into office. It is at this stage that the principled response is to back off.

Let sober reflection be your Swan Song Director Bruce Fraser and table this motion.

The other CVRD Directors have shown that they do have the ability to discern what is right and what is wrong. They recently stood up and voted against the Cobble Hill Director over the Balme Ayr Gravel Pit proposal.

If Director Fraser insists on pushing this through any other Electoral Area Director can move to table this controversial rezoning forcing a vote. If it passed then the next elected representative would deal with this on the new Board convenes.  What is the hurry?

CVRD Logo2

Whose interests are being served and whose are not?

There is a difference between the right to do something and the right thing to do.


Here is the email that I sent around to the candidates, and their responses.


Good Morning Shawnigan Candidates
On Wednesday, October 22nd,  a ‘Special CVRD Board Meeting’ has been called. Director Fraser has forwarded a resolution that is in serious conflict with the Official Community Plan.
This application on Renfrew Road would see 28 lots and homes built if approved.
The Shawnigan Advisory Planning Commission was unanimous in their opposition to rezoning F1 Forest land for housing.
Do you support this rezoning being approved now, or do you want this controversial application to be tabled, until the new CVRD Board and Shawnigan’s new Director  is elected and sworn into office?
I  will be posting a blog on this issue, including your positions later today.
Cowichan Conversations


I have had responses from 5 of the 6 candidates.


Candidate Robert Arndt replied:  

Yes I think it should be tabled. That’s the aquifer out there and septic fields will leach into limestone and into water table. The CVRD knows this. Might not say so though. 


Candidate- Brent Beach

 The reasoning is inconsistent with the OCP, both on reasoning F1 land and residential outside the village. The amenities offered are inconsistent with the OCP. I am disappointed in CVRD planning for sending this forward and the CVRD for failing in their OCP oversight responsibility


Candidate – Sonia Furstenau

My priority is to preserve and protect Shawnigan’s watershed lands.  When we consider the future of Shawnigan, we need to recognize that the well-being and health of the community is dependent on the watershed and its capacity to provide drinking water.  This consideration must be at the forefront of any discussion around development proposals.

We need to have a comprehensive process that includes community input to the decision.  It is crucial that the process is transparent and responsive to community input  - this is essential to have a decision aligned to community interests.  We need to have better ways of keeping the community informed and involved in providing input in order to make sure that we develop policies and plans that are well aligned with the needs and desires of the community.

In order for us to make informed development decisions in Shawnigan, we need to create a criteria-based decision making tool that sets clear community benchmarks for watershed benefits.  I am committed to working with the community to develop such a tool so that the objectives and expectations of the community are clear for the protection of the watershed lands.

As we do not yet a benchmark agreed upon by the community, I would look to the Advisory Planning Commission for direction.  In the case of this development, the APC recommended against moving forward with the application as it stands – as a result of the APC’s concerns, and a lack of clarity and specificity around the details of the application. I would not support this going forward at this time.

I am also aware that the application has gone through a formal CVRD process. The application in question has completed a process that had South Cowichan APC site visits and multiple reviews and recommendations, and has offered a public information session and a public hearing for community input. CVRD regulations stipulate that after the close of the public hearing, the board shall receive no further community input.  This is all the more reason that there needs to be full transparency and detailed information available to the community before any application reaches the public hearing stage.


Candidate – Larry Jorgison

I just finished sending Rob Hutchins an e-mail requesting that these bylaws be removed/tabled until the new year for the new board.


Candidate – Lois Morrow

No, I am not in favour of this application being tabled until a new board is sworn in.  Shawnigan Lake Investments (Partridge/Sharpe) originally proposed this project in 2009.  Since then they have made numerous changes to the proposal in response to recommendations from the APC and on the advice of technical experts.  It has gone to a public meeting and proceeded to a public hearing.  From the official minutes of the public hearing:

Grant Treloar, Chair of the Area B Shawnigan Lake APC for the last two years and has had the opportunity to work with the applicants on their development over the last three years.

Application went before the South Cowichan APC which consists of members from the Mill Bay, Cobble Hill and Shawnigan Lake APC’s, as the subject property is located out of the village containment area.

The APC did not support the application at their very last meeting in the spring but noted that they were moving along and making good progress with the application. At that last APC meeting they felt the revisions to the application had come along way at becoming a positive application but they did not feel good enough, at that time, as they still had issues with the number and location of lots and that was why they did not support the application at that time

Hopes that they not give the process up and it is not turned down at the public hearing stage as there is merit to what the applicants have done, the APC felt it was just not yet positive enough for the area and the watershed to proceed at that time.

It is a misrepresentation to say that the APC was unanimous in their opposition.  They were not in favour “at that time”, and their Chair is on record as hoping that the application is not turned down at the public hearing stage.  Once the public hearing is concluded the CVRD board cannot receive further comment, for or against.

There is statutory provision to amend an Official Community Plan if the community supports an amendment.  I attended the public hearing, and judged that the sentiment of the majority of citizens who were also in attendance was in favour of approving the application.  Either their voices are heeded, or the promise of listening and responsive communication mean nothing.


Candidates Running for elected office in the Cowichan Valley and for the School District Board can email their releases to


Amy Matamba Is Running For A Position On the Cowichan School District Board

Vot Amy Matamba

Tell A Friend

Candidates Running for elected office in the Cowichan Valley and for the School District Board can email their releases to

Janice Macalister – Running for CVRD Director Area E


Janice Macalister
Running for CVRD Director Area E
Vote November 15th at the Eagles Hall

I have lived in the Cowichan Valley for 22 years, the last five in Sahtlam (Area E). I work part time at Volume One books in Duncan. My previous political experience was as a Trustee, Vice-chair and Chairperson on the Cowichan Valley School Board from 1999-2005. During this time I sat on many committees including the joint committee with the CVRD that explored, and recommended, the changes to the original Fairgrounds and the relocation of VIU. I have been on a variety of Boards and have also been engaged in the protection of domestic animals in the valley. I am currently semi-retired and have spent the last few years restoring both the house and gardens on our property in Sahtlam. I have never lost my interest in local politics and have always stayed connected to the current issues in the valley. I would like the opportunity to lend my voice in finding constructive solutions to the challenges we currently face.

We need a strong CVRD board working in collaboration with the First Nations as well as other community groups, to engage all levels of government in finding an acceptable solution to the issue surrounding water supply and quality, for the Cowichan Valley. The crisis has been upon us for 4 years and we do not have the luxury of another four years to implement a comprehensive water management strategy. I feel it is important that a reclamation plan, for the Cowichan River, be developed and implemented as soon as possible.

I will bring a strong and definitive approach to the CVRD board should I be elected and will work diligently towards representing the concerns of Valley residents at both the local and provincial level.

I think my past record as a School Trustee reflects that I am open, available and collaborative, as well as accountable to the electorate. Accountability to, and consultation with voters, whether it is on environmental issues, economic strategy or tough financial decisions is the key to be being a successful elected representative on this board.

I am always willing to pay for medical care, education, seniors, childcare and the protection of our environment. I feel that our taxation rates are reasonable at this time, however I am disturbed by the ‘top heavy’ nature of the bureaucracy that is presently the norm in the CVRD.

My vision for the Cowichan Valley is to see a balanced community, both environmentally and economically. Sustainability can be achieved in these areas with strong, grassroots engagement and accountable governance. Considering the many issues facing us in the Cowichan Valley, whether it is the Gravel Pit, the Crematorium issue, the Transfer Station in the South end, dumping at the quarry or the water management crisis, I believe it is time for some new perspective at the CVRD Board table.

Any questions or concerns feel free to contact Janice at 250-746-9945 or by email at

Authorized by Janice Macalister; financial agent.

Candidates Running for elected office in the Cowichan Valley and for the School District Board can email their releases to

Balme/Ayr Gravel Pit Proposal Panned-Public Meeting


David Indge

By David Indge

After attending Thursday nights meeting on the Balme/Ayr pit proposal, it is clear they have a plan, they just do not know how they are going to execute it and what to do if things go wrong. That bodes ill for the entire community.

Mr. Brian French stated in his PowerPoint there has been a lot of misinformation spread about the Balme/Ayr proposal. As things progressed, we quickly learnt where some of the miss-information was coming from.

Mr. French stated they were derailed by a “legal technicality” which is at best, obfuscation of the facts. As was pointed out to him later in the meeting by Lori Iannidinardo, there was no technicality.

The OCP, the legal mandate by which this valley directs and assists community growth and development in a unified, conformed manner fully endorsed by the CVRD, has been in place long before the Balme/Ayr proposal was ever started. Any legal opinion, was on a process of debate, nothing else.

To add to this, the very first question he was asked, Mr. French showed he has a misguided idea where the replacement fill is coming from. In his answer, after his protracted commentary trying to divert from any answer at all which the audience picked up on immediately, when pressed, he stated the replacement fill, tons of it apparently, will be coming from building sites in Victoria.

The groans of disbelief and perhaps disgust that answer brought forth (from both sides, for and against the proposal) spoke volumes. Few, if any, in the audience believed him. This to me at least confirmed Mr. French’s earlier comment regarding miss-information being spread.

I will not dwell on the fossil fuels that will be used supporting that little caravan of heavy trucks bringing fill 50kms over the Malahat and going back empty, I’ll leave that for the environmentalists. And the thought of adding any more traffic to the Malahat, especially trucks and pups heavy laden with fill, should be an additional concern to all who travel that highway.

When the question was raised about local truck traffic, the answer was provided (I forget by whom) that we could expect upwards of 9,000 truck and trailer units heading back and forth up and down Cowichan Bay Road per year. Further it was defined as approximately one every 12 minutes.

A quick calculation shows a more accurate figure: Every 12 minutes equates to 5 per hour x 9 hours (7 AM until 4PM) = 45 per day x 5 = 225 per week x 52 = 11,700 per year. Multiply that by 30 years well, my estimate says 350,000 unit movements along the main road to and from Bench School.

If you have children or grandchildren, you had better show them what a big gravel and pup truck looks like. They will be seeing lots of them on their way to and from school, or while standing by the road waiting for the school bus to arrive. Lest anyone wants go for a walk around the triangle, wear high fizz clothing, you’ll need it. At least should you get hit, they will be able to find you.

And all this, is to support a land reclamation….?


Editorial-Cowichan News Leader Sizes Up Local Elections



Our take: intriguing matches should make for interesting campaigns

The civic election nomination deadline passed Friday, leaving Cowichan political watchers with some very interesting races to handicap.

• It’s unclear how far the tax revolt goes in North Cowichan. It has a high-profile champion in John Koury, but he will need to demonstrate there are enough other reasons to vote for him if he hopes to unseat Jon Lefebure as mayor. The fact only two councillors are seeking re-election assures us of a very different council.

• Peter Lockhart Gordon would not seem to have the support base to mount a serious challenge to Mayor Phil Kent in Duncan. There are some intriguing new faces in the mix for council, but they are in tough in a city notorious for re-electing people and the entire council running again.

• Mike Walker has a strong base of community support and seems well-entrenched in conservative Mill Bay. But former provincial Green party candidate Kerry Davis has the experience and the team to mount a challenge should the area decide to take a progressive turn.

• In 2011, determined CVRD watchdog Dara Quast was unable to crack the broad base of support cultivated by the venerable Gerry Giles in Cobble Hill. But with Giles retiring, Quast has the connections to now be the favourite, unless the Giles camp wholeheartedly embraces Matteus Clement.

• A multitude of strong positions taken by the energetic Lori Iannidinardo have ensured she isn’t universally loved in Cowichan Bay. But they have also created a very dedicated support base that will make her difficult to knock off. Challenger Currie Ellis surfaced during the debate about live-aboard boats and will have to show he is more than a one-issue guy.

• Mel Dorey could be vulnerable in Saltair, although it remains to be seen if either of his challengers have the horses to take advantage.

• After years of holding a relatively safe seat in Area E, Loren Duncan is facing no less than four challengers. The question is: will they fragment the vote enough to keep that seat safe, or will each draw off enough support from Duncan to allow someone else to walk up the middle?

• And Shawnigan is as wide-open a race as we have ever seen. Someone could win this with as little as 25% of the vote.

Lois Morrow is a Serious Contender to be Shawnigan’s CVRD Representative


Lois Morrow- A Serious Contender

Cowichan Conversations

On August 15, in an exchange of comments with Councillor Sharon Jackson regarding the optimal term length for local elected officials, the proprietor of this blog establishment wrote: “We really need people who can find the washroom on their first day.”

Well, I think I can meet and exceed that criteria.  I’m Lois Morrow, a candidate for Area Director in Shawnigan Lake, and I have been following the affairs of the Cowichan Valley Regional District for the past three years.  In that time I have learned the issues, the procedures and the laws around regional district governance and yes, I do know my way around the CVRD building.

My involvement in local politics began during the debate over the EcoDepot proposed for our area.  Since moving to Shawnigan Lake in 2005, I would often drive past an open field near my home where deer could be seen grazing, and where a local farmer harvested two or three hay crops per year.  Vancouver Island has a limited base of farmland, and it seemed foolish to take any amount out of production for an industrial facility.  I joined the Citizens Together group, and we halted the CVRD’s plans through both a court case on zoning and a referendum.

This experience taught me at least three important lessons.  First, our community was caught off guard by the announcement of an EcoDepot, and I realized that as citizens we had not been following closely enough as our regional government made decisions that affected our community.  My motivation to attend CVRD board and committee meetings, the Area Director’s monthly meetings, and many public information meetings for these past three years came from a sense of obligation to be a more aware citizen.

Second, I learned a new management term from a critique of the debacle written by Director Bruce Fraser: DAD management – Decide, Announce, Defend.  I think most citizens have come to reject this style; they want participation from the beginning, and will push back against a regional board that does not include public input as a major component in decision making.  Communication, openness, consultation, will not be just words to me if I’m elected.

Third, and this is not an idea original to me, is that the EcoDepot debate changed the community of Shawnigan Lake.  Many residents were engaged, on both sides of the issue, and from this grew a sense of empowerment in taking on local political issues.  This served us well when the provincial government granted a permit to locate a contaminated soil facility at the south end of our lake. The entire community responded with not just no, but hell no.  I was a member of the executive of the Shawnigan Residents Association, which carried an appeal against the permit to the Environmental Appeal Board, and I watched as the community opened their wallets to raise over $250,000 to fund the experts and lawyers that were needed.  The commitment from our community, and from myself, to not allow such a threat to our watershed and our drinking water is ongoing and unwavering.

I believe that clean water as a basic human right must be accompanied by the basic human right to food security.  According to the Cowichan Food Security Coalition, only 3.33% of land in the region is being farmed (2011), and estimates of the percentage of food sourced locally range between 10% (Island on the Edge) and 19% (CFSC).  I have deep rural roots: raised on a farm in Manitoba, I also lived for 21 years in a rural area of northeastern Alberta before moving to Shawnigan Lake, and I am currently a member of the Koksilah Farmers Institute.  Protecting farmland and supporting initiatives that promote self-sufficiency in food will be priorities for me in elected office.

My education and experience has been within the non-profit sector.  I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics from the University of Alberta and a Certificate in Voluntary Sector Management from Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton, and have over 30 years of experience on various boards.  Among them, I served 5 years as an appointed member of the St. Paul Municipal Library Board, I volunteered with the St. Lina Agricultural Society, and I was a founding member and first Director of the crisis line and women’s shelter in St. Paul, Alberta.  I also devoted 13 years to homeschooling.  My bias will always be towards encouraging and supporting organic, grassroots, volunteer-led community activism.

I would consider it a privilege to serve the citizens of Shawnigan Lake as Area Director, and will strive to be a capable representative at the Cowichan Valley Regional District board table and an effective advocate within our municipal and provincial government offices. My thanks to Mr. Hughes for the opportunity to contribute to his blog.