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CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure – Respect and Adhere To The South Cowichan OCP

CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure

CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure

Here is a statement released by the CVRD followed by a pitch from Chair Lefebure to accomodate an application from Steelhead LNG/ Malahat Nation
CVRD Logo2
Board Releases Statement on LNG Projects in Cowichan Valley
At its March 9 meeting, the Board released the following statement:

“While the Board of the CVRD has expressed its opposition and lack of support for future LNG projects in the Cowichan Valley, the Board is aware of its responsibilities to give appropriate consideration to any land use application that might be made to the Regional District in accordance with the Local Government Act.”

“This statement has been made to clarify for all concerned that regardless of  the Board’s views and concerns related to LNG facilities, the Board recognizes its statutory duty to hear and consider all information it receives in relation to future land-use applications and decisions,” explains CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure.
Chair Lefebure goes on to say “The community has expressed a strong interest in the LNG issue and how the CVRD will respond. It is important to note that before a liquid natural gas facility could operate, approvals and permits from various agencies are required, including appropriate zoning to allow the use. Zoning of the lands proposed for such a facility is the responsibility of local government. Any decision to permit or not permit the use will be made by the CVRD Board after a fair hearing of the proposal, as well as the opinions and interests of the public.”
– 30 –
For more information, please contact:
Jon Lefebure
Board Chair, CVRD
Richard 'Hub' Hughes

Richard Hughes

Let us recount the recent events. February 10th, the CVRD Board passed an unaimous motion rejecting LNG at Bamberton or anywhere else in the region.

Two days later following a secret meeting with Environment Minister Mary Polak, Chair Lefebure told the Board that he apologized for allowing the motion to proceed.

Seems that Chair Lefebure, CAO Carruthers and Planning GM Blackwell who had met with Steelhead representatives, took two days for their minds to grasp the reality of the motion in opposition to a floating LNG mega project off of Bamberton in the sensitive Saanich Inlet.

Their next move was to hire a taxpayer funded lawyer, Peter Johnson, in a misguided attempt to discredit Director Lori Iannidinardo for making a motion that they insisted showed bias.

Of course there was no bias. The motion essentially reflects the South Cowichan OCP and accompanying zoning.

The official statement above is a embarassment that you would think that they would like to let go of, but no, they seem determined to pour LNG on the fire.

Is Lefebure trying to breathe life into the LNG play setting up for Steelhead to make an application for rezoning in spite of the Boards sustained motion in opposition, the OCP and the zoning all of which prohibit an LNG faciltity from locating at Bamberton?

When the Chair refuses to follow and continues in his thinly veiled accomodation of Steelhead’s proposal then he is unable to provide the balance and leadership required as Chair of the CVRD Board.

Here for Chair Lefebure, and a reminder for the rest of us, is what the Official Community Plan has to say.

  • Policy 16.5: New industries considered hazardous due to the transport, handling, bulk storage, or use of liquefied natural gas, radioactive or other dangerous or toxic materials will not be permitted to locate within the Plan area.

This policy applies to the Bamberton land in accordance with the SCOCP (16.4).


Artists rendition of the proposed floating LNG facility

The application, if one is to materialize, is not deserving of a…”fair hearing of the proposal, as well as the opinions and interests of the public.”

There is nothing compelling the Board to accept any application that so blatantly disrespects the Official Community Plan in this regard.  It is time to tell Steelhead that the OCP will be respected.

The CVRD has spent millions inppropriately over legal issues of its own making and causing turmoil and disruption to residents uneccesarily.

We owe Steelhead nothing. They do not automatically have a ‘right’ to an application to rezone and put the South Cowichan community through the turmoil and expense that would ensue.

In leading the board, Lefebure does us all a diservice by glossing over the OCP, if he looked at it at all.

The community invests significant amounts of time and money developing an official community plan. The disregard shown is disrectful to the community and makes a mockery out of the entire OCP process.

Steelhead LNG’s proposal is not to be welcomed, encouraged or accomodated. The citizen residents of South Cowichan rights must be upheld and protected from this unthinkable intrusion.


50 comments to CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure – Respect and Adhere To The South Cowichan OCP

  • Keith A. Williams

    Richard; i was elated and encouraged by your piece in the May edition of the Cowichan Free Press, which goes some way toward exposing Jon Lefebure’s inappropriate coziness with CVRD senior staff, and his role in undermining the autonomy of the Board of Directors. If only more of the Valley’s dedicated watchdogs would focus on a constructive and realistic goal – the removal of Lefebure as Chair – rather than prattling on and on and on and on and on….and on…. about the fantasy of removing Blackwell and Carruthers, maybe some real progress would be made. Thanks for stepping out there in a broader forum.

    • Matt Yousef


      You seem to be moving in the right direction here although I think the fantasy of removing these two fellows is more steeped in reality than a dream – You have made a good point re:the Chair-however he wont step down anytime soon,unless he is voted out as Chair.

    • Keith A. Williams

      The NDP playbook

  • Jean rogers

    Official Community Plans are incredibly important to the electorate. many hours of consultation between staff, Directors and the public take place in order to finalize this document. Important issues like LNG are discussed and the residents desires are embedded within the plan.

    All for not.

    Unanimous Board decisions……all for not.

    taxpayers dollars on Blackwells and Caruthers salary? all for not.

  • Deidre Mathews

    I have worked in local government for many years and I can tell you that the chaos occurring at the CVRD is unprecedented. This is what happens when you place incompetent staff in charge. We arent making this up, our own general manager of planning probably hasnt read his own OCP. Its a complete mess.The economic development portfolio is in chaos while we throw thousands of dollars at it. The morale is extremely low with middle management and junior staff.

    Look, it only takes a couple of idiots to ruin the entire reputation of an area. Shawnigan, LNG, the crematorium, etc etc. The longer they live in these positions the more mistakes they make.

  • Matt Farley

    West vancouver unanimously voted against LNG and there was no staff bs from their decision.How do we get stuck with these “professionals:

  • Gord menzies

    Many people on this site are requesting some staffers to step down. But if you follow the logic that just wont happen. The myriad of dysfunctional land use decisions coming from the CVRD only speaks to the fact that their logic(or lack therof) will prevail and no credible decisions around demotions or parting of ways will occur. We are stuck with these clowns. They remain silent amidst the frustrating shouts of the taxpayers.

  • Anonymous

    Before I say anything I just wanted to point out that Mr. Hughes site is a fantastic board/blog for expressing our thoughts and concerns and Mr. Hughes needs to be commended for providing us with an opportunity to dialogue.

    The situation at the CVRD has become dire. I am shocked and appalled with the actions of senior staff and some of the Directors, especially the Chair.

    The Planning Manager Blackwell has turned our OCP into a farce. This is a professional who seems to have no professional ethics. His Boss Caruthers, has made no attempt to reprimand this man.

    The electorate remains impatient and in the meantime, the silence only further tarnishes senior managements reputations as credible leaders. I can tell you with certainty that staff , who should look to their managers as credible mentors, are also waiting impatiently for some professionalism to come from them.

    The morale at the CVRD is so low under this leadership and I can assure you that some of these bloggers are in fact

  • Mark Fellows

    Looks like our CVRD Planning Manager has made it to my favourite online website”Rabble.” hes certainly getting his name out embarrassing!!!

  • Dara Quast

    Nowhere, in any legislation, does it say that a Regional District Board has to alter, change or modify its Official Community Plans, bylaws or regulations to accommodate applications from developers. Even if those developers are proposing giant floating LNG export projects.

    It is a relief to know that the Board is aware of its responsibilities to give appropriate consideration to any land use applications. Some of us were starting to think that the majority of the Board had forgotten whose interests they were elected to represent.

    • Carl Schmidt

      Dara, do you think they have given LNG appropriate consideration?

      • Dara Quast

        I couldn’t tell you Carl. Getting a straight answer from many of the players is not easy and never has been.

        I am hopeful that sooner or later they will be able to grasp the significance of the SCOCP and Zoning Bylaws as they pertain to their staff jobs and positions as elected representatives.

        I am a bit of an optimist that way since it usually takes them years, massive community pushback and never ending legal challenges to be able to comprehend their own jurisdictional responsibility and authority. 😉

    • Mark Fellows

      Dara are you being facetious? I suspect so and I dont blame you one bit.

      The OCP should have set the stage for all of this bc but unfortunately, the command and control style of the CVRD decided to spend thousands on a lawyer to quash any hint of opposition to LNG.

      I dont speak spanish but, theres alot of stupidos at the CVRD

    • Mark Fellows

      Well, we are making more headlines across the province, its not Shawnigan this time its LNG.

      The next headline should be “Cowichan’s own General Manager of Planning Ignores Official Community Plan and seeks lawyers advice to water down unanimous vote.

      Now thats a headline, preposterous!

      • Fred masters

        It’s hard to believe that this man is still in his position. Dereliction of duty; he’s fumbling the economic development portfolio, lost the crematorium lawsuit, the aap process is undemocratic but yet he uses it as his main tool(pun intended) his flagrant disregard for the OCP on and on and on. How is this man still being paid by u

  • Jen Macpherson

    This is such an easy decision, the OCP is the electorates guide, its their vision. So much time and energy goes into the development of an OCP. I am perplexed and concerned.

    Many people are asking the same questions here and many people have the same concerns but yet we receive nothing from the Chair that admits to a major mistake.

    If the Chair and staff can ignore the OCP for LNG then will they ignore it for other developments? What about variances and other rezonings?

    If a rezoning application comes in will they give it the same attention and bias that they have to LNG?

    What if you request a rezoning application for your own land and they wont even consider it?

    credibility is lost

    • Eva Waters

      Jen, they just denied a sawmill rezoning that had been operating for many years. Just flat out denied it. Poor fellow certainly hasnt been given the same amount of discretion that LNG was given. The credibility is out the window now and from what I have read he is going to sue, dont blame him.

      • We all are entitled to sue but in this case I do not think that he has any chance of success. It is the same as the SIA Pit as the court determined. That activity was not permitted in F-1 zoned land and either is this sawmill permitted on R2 zoned land. It seems to me that the fellow had got away with it for years and now he has been called on it. It would make more sense to work with the CVRD in this case and attempt to find an area suitable for this supportable enterprise with zoning that allows it.

        • sawmill joe

          Sure, the CVRD did the right thing here but my contention is would they have given this man the same discretion that they have given LNG. Yes, they may have been right here but credibility is out the window.

          I didnt see the senior managers scrambling to get a lawyer to warn the directors that they could be sued.

          Makes you wonder.

          • I absolutely agree. The hypocrisy is clear. It should be highlighted but compounding one cock up for another just entrenches the problem. BTW one issue is in Shawnigan, the other in Mill Bay Malahat. Different Directors, different approaches.

            • sawmill joe

              There is clearly disparity within this Board and Committee.My fear is the disparity will become more prevailing as time goes by. A Board or Committee , ideally, should act in unison but rarely occurs, which is fine as each Director has their own distinct electorate with their own distinct views.

              it is my hope that they find their common voice with regard to LNG and the role of senior staff. Both of these matters have them headed towards turbulent waters.

    • Eva Waters

      Heres the piece from the paper

      A Shawnigan Lake sawyer’s milling business was cut short by the CVRD’s electoral area services committee on March 16 after directors turned down his request to amend the Area B zoning to legalize his operations at the present location.

      Property owner Patrick Stack has been running a sawmill business for about 25 years, initially on a dairy farm. For the last six years, he has operated on a Shawnigan Lake Road property zoned Suburban Residential (R-2). He said he provides a valuable service, close to the source of “urban timber” or trees removed by developers for new subdivisions. The wood would be “trashed” unless he was able to process it, Stack said, adding he uses a short haul logging truck to take away small dimension logs. He argued that there is nothing suitably zoned in the Shawnigan Lake area.

      Small portable sawmills have their place in rural areas outside industrial zones, but there is great potential for conflict with neighbours due to noise, dust, traffic and aesthetics, said the report. “The land is a little small for this and there is some buffering, but not quite enough to protect the neighbours,” said Rob Conway, manager of development services. The portable saw mill is located in an open air post and beam structure.

      Staff provided three options in the report: rezoning, holding a public meeting, or denial. “We have concerns,” said Conway. “Zoning changes could cause future problems and we wouldn’t be able to act on complaints.” He warned that there was an active subdivision application for a property across the road.

      Dir. Sonia Furstenau said the application should be denied and, in the end, the committee voted to protect those who settle onto a country acreage to enjoy the quiet rural life. The recommendation will go to the CVRD board for final approval.

      Stack said he would consider legal action.

      • Although it might seem as if I am against everything that the CVRD does, I am not. In this case Planning Manager Rob Conway and Director Furstenau are both correct. The sawmill while providing a livelihood and a needed service is not a permitted used in R2 zoning. There may be some irony here when looking at the CVRD’s uneven record of interpreting their own bylaws, eg. The Eco Depot on farmland, Processing gravel on the Balme Ayr property, and on and on. However those property owners living in a rural suburban community have every right to be put off and it is the job of the CVRD staff and politicians to enforce and respect the OCP and the zoning bylaws.It is not always a comfortable experience, but they did the right thing in this case.

  • Carl schmidt

    If the cvrd is to gain credibility and save the reputations of the directors they need to denote the planning manager. Now

    • Dennis Montgomery

      Carl, the general manager of planningis a dolt, that’s obvious but don’t forget the chair and his boss Caruthers. Their names are fast appearing on many intelligent alternative and other media outlets.before this is over the chair will be unelectable and the other two geniuses will be working for a janitorial service or lng. Lol

  • Roland Morgan

    In Matteus Clement’s “ridiculous” video he praises CAO Carruthers and Chief Planner Blackwell to the skies and backtracks blatantly on the CVRD vote in which he participated, calling on his community to be sensible and consider a planning application (non-existent so far) in a fair light. It’s clear he has never read his own Official Community Plan, and has lost track of what he was elected for.

    • May squires

      Caruthers, Blackwell and some directors have decided to apply the precautionary principle in favour of lng. They have spent thousands on staff time and lawyers fees in a perplexing effort to belittle OUR Official Community Plan
      First the issue was around staff interference with a unanimous vote from the board. Then we understand that our own OCP cleary States the electorates views on lng type facilities.

      Has the planning chief read his own code of ethics from the PIBC?

      Is Mr Caruthers hiding the truth about a secret meeting with lng?

      Is it true that staff are influencing the directors on political matters?

      Did Blackwell meet with lng?

      Did Blackwell read the OCP and if he did can he still be registered as a professional planner?

      • Dennis Montgomery

        May, good questions but their arrogance will prohibit them from even acknowledging the electorates concerns. These stupidos are more concerned with what the environment minister and lng thinks.


  • Patrick walls

    We are experiencing a phenomenon that is reminiscent
    of the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the era of the boys club, the voters supported the old boys club mentality of “we know best.”

    People were commanded to know their place and trusted that the salaries and covenants of the men that governed us were holding our interests at heart.

    Not much has changed but the comment from our Prime Minister , who answered a reporters question regarding his appointment of women in cabinet rightly stated “because its 2016”

    It may sound dramatic for me to infuse a such a sophisticated response into the drama of the CVRD but it is necessary. The dichotomy of an intelligent and progressive federal government juxtaposed against the little region of the CVRD which seems to be steeped in male dominated “man knows best” policy is obvious.

    The dinosaurs of Blackwell and Caruthers have not served us well. They are obviously true blue conservatives, a leftover from the Harper regime.

  • Taxpayer 4

    The local government act clearly states the reasons for adopting an Official Community Plan and it is staed below:

    Purposes of official community plan
    471 (1) An official community plan is a statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management, within the area covered by the plan, respecting the purposes of local government.

    The Board (under advisement from staff?) have decided to ignore the OCP and continue to oppose the electorate on this issue?

    I am truly in the dark here. If our own CVRD wont follow the OCP then this taints the entire process for variance permits. Many applicants will request a variance and this will impact the OCP. So from LNG to the homeowner, the entire credibility of our Development Permit, OCY and variance process is tainted!!

  • Ben Frent

    This is clearly a cut and dried decision. The OCP was drafted with many hours of public input. Obviously the electorate has not changed their minds since the OCP was drafted.

    The entire electorate could have been spared this controversy if the General Manager of Planning had only read the OCP and then advised the Directors accordingly.

    Instead, according to reports from this blog, he scrambled to warn the Board of the mistake and thousands of dollars of staff and lawyer time was spent to water down the unanimous vote or possibly quash it completely.

    What we witnessed and are continuing to witness is a complete disregard for the electorates mandate.

  • Lavonne Huneck

    It is clear that John and Jane Q. Taxpayer are aware of the legal and legislative responsibilities of the people they elected to conduct business on their behalf.

    What we don’t need is a statement from “our” board telling us they intend to do the job they were elected to do, UNLESS….

    • Taxpayer 2

      The letter from LNG to the Board was incredibly unprofessional and speaks to the corporate pathology that exists under the Liberal government in BC.

      The letter may as well been sent to every member of the electorate in the RD essentially asking all of us to stay out of LNG’s affairs.

      Obviously our Board and the senior staff were frightened. Its up to us to send a clear message to LNG, obviously our CVRD will not.


    The main issue at the next election will be LNG. It will be at that time when we will have new Directors in play and hopefully Blackwell and Caruthers will be let go for their incompetence.

    Unfortunately we will have to wait a couple of years. I am hoping they dont screw up our region further.

  • Guy lareaux

    Our MP and MlA are both NDPers. I wonder what they think our CVRD placating to LNG. There is no doubt in my mind that senior staff and some Directors are either big C conservatives or Red liberals, if this is true they need to respect that we are represented by the NDP both provincially and federally.

    I urge our NDP representatives to approach the Board and speak to our wonderful planning manager and Caruthers.

  • Ben friesen


    Its official then, literally. The Board Chair and staff have more than contradicted the wishes of the electorate of their own OCP, they have decided to overide the electorates OCP and put in place their own agenda.

    This is appalling. Staff and some Board members possibly intimidated by the Environment Ministers meeting (a Liberal) and probably intimidated by LNG’s letter.

  • Matt Smythe

    Richard, you have done a fantastic job of investigating this issue.

  • Matt Smythe

    If Caruthers wont deal with him, maybe someone should report him to the planners association.

  • Matt Smythe

    Richard, great work!

    The CVRD is currently the embarrassment of the province. With this new information you have presented, I feel as though the electorate is being cheated.

    Mr. Blackwell, who happens to belong to a planners association, should retract his designation as I believe there is a code of conduct for planners. read below and you be the judge

    PIBC Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
    (Excerpted from the Bylaws of the Planning Institute of British Columbia):
    As ethical planning professionals members should be governed by two basic
    They must be competent. This means:

    They must know the competencies for their area of
    practice; and
    They must be able to successfully apply the
    They must have a keen sense of responsibility to their
    profession and employers and the public; and

    They must retain a sense of independence that will
    enable them to exercise their professional judgment
    independently and without bias.

    In order to comply with these two basic concepts, members of the profession shall:

    Practice sustainable planning that considers the use of society’s
    resources and the needs of future generations;

    Value both the natural and human environments and understand
    their interrelationships;

    Acknowledge that planning decisions can have effects that cross
    jurisdictional boundaries;

    Balance the interests of communities with the interests of

    Strive to continuously improve their knowledge of applicable
    planning theory and practice; and

    Foster meaningful public participation by all segments of society

    • Theo Watts

      If he had any sense he would be looking for another position somewhere else. Most people I have spoken with have absolutely no respect for him , hes way over his head.

    • Darren Fiesco

      Funny, how Caruthers reprimanded a fire chief under his watch by suspending him for three months -then the entire fire department quit in protest. I wonder what he will do now with his staffs show of incompetence

      • planning pro

        Caruthers is a patriarch and from what I hear from the Vancouver Focus crowd Blackwell doesnt stay too long at any job. They are chaos manifested in male form.

    • May squires

      The planning institute would never hold his feet to the fire and either will Caruthers. We are stuck with this guy and the others for now. If he had any professionalism left he would sidebar his arrogance and step down.

    • Planning primer


      A registered planner with the institute would be hard pressed to explain why he ill advised the Directors (especially with the OCP in place) on the LNG issue. I dont think theres a need to hold his feet to his fire- this blog has the attention of many people across the province now. His own actions will render him to his sealed fate.

  • Dara Quast

    The 14 Directors who were unable to comprehend Director Iannidinardo’s objection to ameliorating the Feb 10 unanimously passed motion to oppose any LNG facilities being proposed for Bamberton or anywhere else in the Cowichan Valley should hang their heads in shame. In particular the three South Cowichan Directors.

    Once again the staff has failed to give our Directors the unbiased information that they need to make decisions that are appropriate for the people they represent or that will maintain their reputation as effective and integral elected officials.

    The District of North Saanich heard a Notice of Motion last night that echoed Director Iannidinardo’s motion. There was no caveat added about promising to meet their responsibilities or give appropriate consideration, yada, yada, yada. It was a straight forward we are opposed statement.


    Councillor Weisenberger requests Councils’ consideration of the following motion:

    Whereas the four Wsanec First Nations located on the Saanich Peninsula have expressed opposition to the proposed floating LNG facility in Saanich Inlet; and

    Whereas the proposed facility is designed primarily for export of Liquified Natural Gas, not local consumption; and

    Whereas the proposed project has questionable benefit and significant potential risk for the shared health of the people and ecosystem of the Saanich Inlet; therefore

    Be it resolved that the District of North Saanich expresses opposition to the proposed floating Liquified Natural Gas facility in Saanich Inlet and the associated pipeline through the Salish Sea.

    In time it is very likely that other boards and councils will follow suit. With every addition to this issue our embarrassment of our leaders is compounded.

    It would be easy to blame it on Matteus Clement’s ridiculous video or Kerry Davis’s foolish letter in the Echo or Jon Lefebure’s manipulative and condescending media release but this is the responsibility of the 14 Directors who did not support Director Iannidinardo’s objection to ameliorate a perfectly legal and very powerful motion that was unanimously passed on Feb 10.

    Some of our Directors have shown us that they are irredeemable. The remaining Directors need to stop trying to curry favour with the bureaucracy and start recognizing the strength and knowledge of their fellow Directors.

    They need to be working together, supporting one another in a respectful and balanced environment that’s goal is for the betterment of the people of the Cowichan Valley. This is what we elected them for and this is not currently happening.

    • Marilyn Venturi

      This is where a “change of heart” is appropriate. The directors (assuming that they have been reading this blog) now have full knowledge of the wording of the South Cowichan OCP, policy and bylaws and understand their obligation to abide by them, clear-headed in the knowledge that the vast majority of their constituents are begging them to do so. Some of us can forgive them for misunderstanding this far, but now is the time to apologize to their constituents for being slow to do their homework and get down to the work they were elected to do. It’s time for a united voice. If the majority of the Malahat Nation is found to be against this threat to their environment, too, it’s time for them to demand that their leadership cancels the partnership with Steelhead LNG and seeks economic development that respects other first nations and their CVRD neighbours.

      • Cindy Manus

        Marilyn, its painfully true that we the electorate are “begging” our Directors and the two staffers to follow their own OCP. Its an outrage and noone is being held accountable to date. Theres no credibility left and its unfortunate that we have to hold their feet to the fire to convince them to do the right thing.

        If the CVRD was a business and traded in the market, stocks would be plummeting. Unfortunately this is local government and we will continue to pay our taxes while they continue to oppose us. Its absolutely outrageous.

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