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When is a Community Plan NOT a Community Plan?

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Dr. Paul Kamill is a relative newcomer to the Cowichan Valley. He bought a small acreage bordering on the proposed Balme family gravel pit on the Cowichan Bay-Cobble Hill dividing line. Little did he know that the ‘Black is White’ crowd controlled the local government.

He was recently treated to the CVRD’s mishandling of yet another colossal cock-up.

Experienced politicians and career Administrator Frank Raimondo-aka “Raimondo the Rude’ refused to properly interpret and abide by their own OCP and bylaws. Mr Kamill was treated to our Cowichan version of the British skit- Monty Python.

'Raimondo-the Rude' We were 100 percent wrong'!

‘Raimondo-the Rude’ We were 100 percent wrong’!

He immersed himself in the CVRD misadventures and along with 99.4 percent of the locals actually understood the meaning of the bylaws and the OCP.

He was amazed to watch our stand-in CAO Raimondo along with his sidekick Cobble Hill Director Gerry Giles deliberately attempt to confuse the meaning  and required procedures for a ‘Temporary Use Permit’ when it was crystal clear that TUP’s were not allowed in the agricultural zone.

The Doctor penned this missive to Chair Rob Hutchins and copied all of our CVRD Directors.

This assessment of the inglorious ‘Gang who couldn’t shoot straight’ has been forwarded to Cowichan Conversations so that our readers can enjoy the caustic comments and wry wit offered.

When is a Community Plan NOT a Community Plan?

Mr Hutchins

May I introduce myself? I am one of the many “nimbys and nitwits” from your CVRD Electorate.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat through Mr Tippet’s presentation of his report concerning Temporary Use Permits-(TUP’s) on ALR1 farmland, with particular reference to the CVRD Staff failure to recognise that the South Cowichan OCP specifically excludes granting of TUPs on anything except certain zoning designations.

It seems to me, newly arrived in both Cowichan and Canada, that because Mr Raimondo, who we were told tasked Tippet to write this report, was demonstrably wrong to commission a legal opinion, despite having been told this in the past by ‘the amateurs’, that there is more than a slight degree of ‘partiality’ in favour of the Balme Ayr proposals. The overall feeling was that what has happened is that just because you do not have the “right answer” you are going to pursue this until you get the “right answer”. I have, therefore, to ask, the “right answer” for whom? Perhaps an answer that vindicates such glaring mistakes, and ensures the entitlement of ‘wealth’? This, of course, implies that greed is good, which is palpably not so as recently described by Thomas Picketty (Picketty 237-70).

My understanding is that OCPs are developed in consultation WITH the community, often over many years. You and your fellow directors have been elected to act FOR your community, not simply for individuals alone, individuals who may wish to make a vast profit from industrial processing. It is known that some individuals, mostly in the wealthier strata, have a sense of ‘entitlement’ over and above their status. They expect their way in life to be paved with gold (Piff 34-43). Only they have rights, and the rest of us must bow down before them! This, if you will excuse the terminology, which is not mine but that of a community social scientist, a professor, from the USA, is known as the “asshole effect”.

The age of entitlement. How wealth breeds narcissism. The Guardian

This seems to be operating here. While you have been elected, may I remind you who it was that elected you? You, as politicians, are community servants. Raimondo, and his workers are there in the capacity of what might be likened to Civil Servants, and not of the likes of the “Sir Humphreys” of this world. I know what this means having spent some time in the past as a civil servant and at a national level.

Tippet in his presentation today seemed to suggest that the items in the OCP that gainsaid the Planners’ so-called interpretation had been mistakes. He clearly has not even considered, or was perhaps told not to consider, the possibility that these clauses were in the OCP specifically to protect the environment.

I observed that when Tippet was questioned by the Committee there was some glaring ‘coaching’ going on. He had not taken the presentation to its full ‘potential’ to support the case that ALL OCPs must be duly reviewed, to ensure that, in future the ‘staff’ and those who have pushed an issue, do not come up with mud on their face and the “right answer” is arrived at.

This suggests that there is an assumption that the electorate are fools, or as we have been portrayed, nitwits, and there is an attitude at CVRD that “we know what should happen”.

I recently paid my property tax. In the envelope was a ‘flyer’ accompanying the bill, telling me some of the highlights concerning CVRD. You, specifically you, write in there that the aim of CVRD is to make this the best environment in which to live, in the whole of Canada – somewhere with the best environment in which to raise future generations.

I find myself curious as to how both apparently suborning the democratic process – as exemplified by the community involvement in development of the OCP – and placing a gravel pit in an area where it is only wanted by one family to make money over and above their admitted needs, will help our children, or our communities.

There has been the suggestion by Raimondo at the last meeting of the Board that he had visited all the neighbours. This I can tell you now is a “terminological inexactitude”(Barr 2886-88) of the gravest kind, one which the Balmes were also caught perpetrating. Moreover, his taking to task, in a most disrespectful manner, in what was a none-too veiled fashion of Director Iannidinardo, was unprofessional in the extreme.

It should not be the place of, in this case, a distinctly uncivil servant to do this, and certainly not without reprimand.

I had come to Canada in the misapprehension that you here in Canada were more moral than the rest of the North American continent. Even at local level it seems there has been permeation, and emulation of the problems manifested at Provincial and Federal levels. I am more than deeply disappointed.

Yours, with less respect

Paul Kamill

Reference list

Barr, Mason. “Terminological inexactitude.” American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 143A.24 (2007): 2886-88
Picketty, Thomas. “Inequality and Concentration: Preliminary Bearings.” Capital in the Twenty-First Century. 1st ed. Harvard: Belknap, 2014. 237-70.
Piff, Paul K. “Wealth and the Inflated Self: Class, Entitlement, and Narcissism.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 40.1 (2014): 34-43

Dr. Paul Kamill,
Philosophers Anonymous

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.” [Orwell, George (1946). Politics and the English Language]

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7 comments to
When is a Community Plan NOT a Community Plan?

  • Marilyn Venturi

    Poor Mrs. Balme – she seems to have a very selective memory. My initial comments to her were on July 15, 2013 as follows:

    Hello Shelley and Oliver,

    I sent this letter (attached to the email)to the directors of the CVRD after learning of your application for a gravel operation on “Jenny’s place” and watching the videos of the meetings at the CVRD.

    I was very surprised to hear of it, especially after hearing Gerry say that you had spoken with the neighbours.

    I have the utmost respect for you both (and for Gerry) and I am sorry to hear that you feel there are people misrepresenting or exaggerating your proposition. I know you to be fine people and fine farmers. I have read the proposal carefully and have huge concerns that I would have shared with you earlier had I known about them. Jaco Pedrosa told me some time ago of his suspicions, but I wrote them off as rumour. I wish you had given us the opportunity to express our concerns, as the plan has the potential to destroy our farm business and I wonder if you have any idea how difficult it is to find the uncontaminated clean fill required. In addition, how would you find enough topsoil to cover the reclaimed land to bring it back to suitability for agriculture?

    With best regards,

    Marilyn Venturi

    So many “terminological inexactitudes” in writing and on video!

  • Brent Beach

    Ms Balme assumes her economic prospects override regional economic prospects. She also reduces life to economic considerations, ignoring environmental and social considerations. An OCP balances social, environmental and economic interests for the region, on the basis of the values and goals of all residents. Often that means it prevents individual citizens from realizing their individual goals. A proper functioning local administration understands and resolves to defend its own OCP. Attempts to bend the OCP, the zoning and bylaws that implement the OCP, for special interests are in fact why economies fail. The communist societies did not fail entirely because they were centrally planned, but largely because they came to exist for the benefit of the central planners. As some of them continue to do today. The municipal government act offers powerful tools to communities to express their vision and then develop zoning and bylaws to move toward that vision. Each evasion and sidestep weakens those tools.

  • Shelley Balme

    “Dr.” Kamill seems to have a strange fixation with the financial outcome of our proposal. Possibly he is of the same mind set as Mrs. Venturi as her initial comments to me were ” had I thought of financially compensating the people we are affecting” ?? Who and how we are still trying to figure out. I am sorry to say but certain states have tried to level the economic playing field. Namely Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary etc. and they have all failed. No business is run at a deficient. Our land reclamation proposal, emphasis on ” our land”, is and will be a positive for the agriculture community, and the economy of this Valley. As I have said before. The Cowichan Valley cannot sustain itself economically on Coffee shops alone ( no insult to Coffee Shops intended!!”). Real jobs need to be here in the Valley to support our communities,schools, coffee shops and infrastructure.

  • Diane Kennedy

    Thank you Paul for writing and Richard for publishing this delightfully pointed letter which needs to be forwarded to some public service employees including Seaterra, the folks pushing the CRD sewage rock uphill against the clearly stated desires of the good folks of Esquimalt.

  • Rick Spencer

    That should be look for the lightning bolts from on high. So much for misspelled sarcasm. More chuckles for Rob and Frank. You are welcome oh great ones.

  • Rick Spencer

    As excellent as this is, as honest and actual as things can be, this will not cause either Hutchins nor Raimondo to miss a second of sleep. In fact I would guess that these two gentleman will probably have a pretty good laugh over this obvious NIMBY whine. Look for what happens next. My guess is someone will pay for this incursion on the authority granted to both of these chosen ones. What for the lightning bolts from on high. Great article, one of the best ever. Would be great to see this in the local papers.

  • Marilyn Venturi

    I laughed ’til I cried!

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