Opponents left no doubt that they are opposed to the proposed Steelhead LNG/Malahat Nation massive floating LNG facility in Saanich Inlet off Bamberton.
A delegation of two speakers, Edward Arnold and Nick Versteeg provided the Board of Directors with many reasons for opposing LNG facilities within the region and congratulated the directors for passing their February 1oth unanimous motion opposing LNG.
It is clear that Steelhead promoters have been in contact with senior staff regarding a possible rezoning application needed before they could commence building a massive floating LNG facility at Bamberton in the Saanich Inlet.
Despite CAO Carruthers repeated denials that senior staff had met with Steelhead LNG officials, both Director Clement and Chair Lefebure said that they had.
Cobble Hill Director Matteus Clement released a video that broke with Planning GM Ross Blackwell’s highly irregular instructions that Directors’ must remain neutral.
Director Clement stated that he regretted his support for the motion which opposed LNG facilities and wishes he had not voted to support it, as he did.
That is his right, as it is for all directors for or against any matters before the board.
A great deal has been made of Steelhead LNG’s rights. Let me put that notion to rest now, and let me advance the case of CVRD residents rights.
The South Cowichan Official Community Plan prohibits facilities such as proposed by Steelhead LNG/ Malahat Nation, pure and simple.
There is nothing vague or uncertain about it. It is the responsibilty of the staff and board to respect and defend the South Cowichan Community Plan.
Policy 16.4: Within the South Cowichan Plan area, the CVRD Board has designated a number of land areas for industrial use. These include:
- The Bamberton industrial lands
- 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.
There is nothing in the Community Charter or Local Government act that discourages local governments from advising potential applicants seeking zoning changes, that it is highly doubtful as it is in conflict with OCP and zoning.
Steelhead LNG/Malahat Nation does not have the automatic right to suck the CVRD into a long drawn out, expensive, community fight over something rejected by the zoning and the Official Community Plan.
Further, on February 10th the CVRD Board unanimously opposed locating LNG export facilities throughout the region. Two days later the CAO hired a lawyer, with our money, to provide an opinion on that motion, suggesting bias and engaging the board in a divisive and unecessary harangue.
The CVRD hired lawyer Peter Johnson did not support the contention that bias took place. The Directors were standing up for the OCP and the zoning.
The CVRD has through three CAO’s overseen at least three similar cockups in recent years.
The SIA effort to dump 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil into the Shawnigan Watershed, the ill fated attempt to locate a garbage transfer and recycling drop off on farmland, the so called Eco Depot, and the attempt to process gravel at the Balme Ayr gravel operation.
In each of those examples the senior staff and a majority of directors dug in their heels and refused to follow their own bylaws or properly interpret their own zoning, temporary use permits, or OCP’s.
It has costs us literally millions in wasted staff time and legal fees, to say nothing of the disruption to the residents in the communities involved.
It is time for the CVRD Directors to direct senior staff to stand down. Enough trouble and expense has been caused by their reluctance, if not outright refusal, to follow Board direction.
Their is no obligation to process an application when it is not supported by the elected representatives, the OCP or the zoning.
It is time to tell Steelhead LNG that their proposal is not acceptable and that they might just as well save their money, pack up their bags and leave town.