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The South Cowichan OCP Prohibits LNG Facilities In Bamberton–Senior Staff Should Read The Plan

Don Maroc

Don Maroc

Residents in the southend of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) continue their strong push-back against development they didn’t ask for and definitely don’t want in their area.

Most people in the Shawnigan Lake area would agree that communities should look after and deal with the waste they create, liquid or solid, residential or industrial, organic or polluted.

But almost no one believes the Ministry of Energy & Mines should have granted permits to establish a dump for toxic contaminated soil uphill from the lake that supplies potable water for most of the residents.

imagesA solid line of huge dump trucks arrive daily loaded with contaminated soil from somewhere on the mainland. Their government, the CVRD, does not know how much is being delivered, nor what toxic substances the soil contains.

With exhausted Shawnigan taxpayers still in a court battle trying to regain the right of their regional government to determine how land can be used in the CVRD, the people of neighbouring Mill Bay are faced with an equally frightening development at the old Bamberton site on Saanich Inlet.

An outfit calling itself Steelhead LNG, financially backed by Calgary private equity fund Azimuth Capital Management, until recently known as Kern Partners Ltd., in partnership with the Malahat Nation are proposing to install a half-kilometer long floating natural gas liquification facility.

Based on little more than faith and hope the National Energy Board, during Stephen Harper’s fossil fuel addicted government, approved a permit for the Malahat/Steelhead LNG facility to export by tanker, six million tons of LNG each year for 25 years.

Premier Christy Clark

Premier Christy Clark

That takes care of the federal government in Ottawa. Christy Clark’s provincial government is so frantic to get some LNG exported they would probably offer permits to anyone with an old oil tank and a freezer in their garage.

But that still leaves our local CVRD government. The current zoning while for heavy industry does not include use for an LNG facility, so there would have to be a rezoning process to go through.

With this in mind last month at a CVRD meeting with all 15 Board members present, Cowichan Bay Director Lori Iannidinardo made a motion,

“That we advise Steelhead LNG that the CVRD is opposed to any LNG facility being located at Bamberton or anywhere else in the Regional District.”

Six Directors spoke in support of the motion.

CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure

CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure

Without any comment Board Chair Jon Lefebure, Mayor of North Cowichan, called for the vote, 14 hands went up, unanimous support for the motion.

Two days later, after a meeting with B.C. Minister of the Environment Mary Polak, concerning the polluted soil site at Shawnigan Lake, Chair Lefebure apologized for failing the board members by allowing Iannidinardo’s motion to stand. Lefebure and senior staff CVRD staff warned Iannidinardo that she had put the Board in a vulnerable position by taking a public position on a proposal before an application was made

Readers of this Blog can find all the details of the action that has followed on this Blog.

At Wednesday’s (March 9) CVRD Board meeting the agenda included a section on the Saanich Inlet LNG facility. At least 150 people arrived at the meeting, filling the meeting room and spilling out into the hallway.

CVRD Director Lori Iannidinardo

CVRD Director Lori Iannidinardo

Led by Chair Lefebure the Board decided to avoid any uproar by dealing first with the LNG business.

In the tones of a stern lecturer Lefebure informed those present that the law requires that the elected directors must approach each zoning proposal with an open mind. They may have an opinion but they must treat each zoning proposal fairly.

The Board then passed, with one “no” vote from Iannidinardo, a motion that had been prepared during an In Camera meeting preceding the regular open meeting. It was a face-saving motion, sort of as a teacher would read to students after finding out he was wrong and the students were right.

The motion reads:

“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.”

Now lets get back to the motion originally put forward by Director Iannidinardo and passed unanimously by the board.

“That we advise Steelhead LNG that the CVRD is opposed to any LNG facility being located at Bamberton or anywhere else in the Regional District.”

Let’s take a look at what page 110 of the South Cowichan Official Community Plan states on this issue, and let’s remember that the OCP is the law for that area of the CVRD:

“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.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 6.11.51 PM

It seems that Iannidinardo’s motion says nothing more than what the South Cowichan community has already decided and recorded in its OCP. The South Cowichan OCP Prohibits LNG Facilities In Bamberton. Chair Jon Lefebure , Brian Carruthers and Planning GM Ross Blackwell should Read the Official Community Plan


17 comments to The South Cowichan OCP Prohibits LNG Facilities In Bamberton–Senior Staff Should Read The Plan

  • Pat Fea

    The BC Ombudsman will investigate local governments if you feel as though they require it. Here is the form to fill out-you can remain anonymous.

    I have two complaints that I may put forward:

    Caruthers hiring a communications manager without the approval of the Board.

    Mr. Blackwell ignoring his own OCP.


    I think its time we have these people investigated.

  • Salish Sea Sam

    It is great to see our local first nation learning from, and following in lockstep with, our esteemed regional government. Elected leaders in both are being led by the noses by staff with no real vested interest in local outcomes but rather in the paycheques earned by surreal interpretations of their bloated ego roles.

  • taxpayer 3

    I think this blog is so incredibly useful to all of us and I thank Richard Hughes for facilitating these discussions, hes doing a great job.

    LNG is an incredibly important issue – The electorate realizes this and we expect some of our Directors to represent us appropriately. Someone on this blog mentioned that the letter from LNG to the Board may as well been sent to each and every electorate -that is who the Board represents. This blogger was technically and theoretically correct.

    The planning manager, who gets paid a kings ransom with our money, has not only overstepped his position but has been negligent in his duty. In my opinion, he has been insubordinate to the Directors and to the electorate.

    • taxpayer 7

      Not only has he been insubordinate to the Directors, he has failed to comply with the spirit of his own OCP! Mr. Blackwell, please leave our beautiful region.

  • Marilyn Venturi

    Is it really as simple as Directors and staff not having read and understood their OCPs and bylaws? Years and much community input were put into their development! Too bad they don’t have to take a test before they run for election or apply for a staff position. Why didn’t the Directors, particularly the Shawnigan Director at the time, stop the dumping and treatment of toxic soil on land for which it was not a permitted use (then and now)? After all, land use is the one thing over which they have jurisdiction. South Cowichan policy is not ambiguous: LNG is not permitted.

    • Pat Menning

      I agree with you Marilyn, you are spot on!

      Seems like Blackwell and Caruthers have failed us time and time again. Our tax dollars pay them both well in excess of 400 000 and yet they still cant find the incentive to conduct themselves in a professional manner. I hope they have realized their mistake and will look for work in another jurisdiction.

    • Mark Mannith

      Its the Planning Managers job to follow the OCP NOT duck and cover from LNG. I hope he realizes his mistake and corrects his actions.

      After the last Board meeting many of us went for coffee and discussed all of the land use issue controversies in our area. We agreed that he is not capable of performing his duties and hope that he steps down. We thought we would write a letter to the Board on this. I wonder if we will receive the same consideration that LNG has.

      • Jobs First

        The planning manager isnt at fault here. he has done nothing wrong! LNG would bring us jobs and he probably realizes this. Maybe Mr Blackwell has the regions best interests at heart. Time to think progressive people.

        • Matt Houston

          I agree, theres no reason to go on a witch hunt here

          • Mark Fellows

            Jobs First and Matt,

            If you read the letter to our Board, it seems to me that LNG is on a witchunt. Ross Blackwell and Brian caruthers are paid in excess of 500 000.00 to represent us. We are just asking for proper representations.They have not responded to the electorate to date.

            • While it may be true that Carruthers and Blackwell have meddled in the political affairs of the board they are not being paid in excess of $500,000 per year. Between the two they haul in about $340,000. Imagine!

    • Dara Quast

      I can forgive some of the far away Directors not being intimately familiar with the South Cowichan Official Community Plan (SCOCP) but Director Clement and Director Davis should be begging the forgiveness of their communities and resigning.

      The SCOCP is the guiding document that they are supposed to be using. If they do not have enough respect to know it, use it and defend it then why are they sitting at the table?

      The CAO and Planning Manager just have no excuse. Did they forget to provide the SCOCP to their lawyer when they asked for the “we want to manage down Director Iannidinard” opinion?

      I hope they are all boning up on the Zoning Bylaws now.

  • Don Sketik

    It begs to ask why would Steelhead make an application when they are facing an OCP rezoning as well as strong community resistance backed up by elected directors who politically oppose this kind of development.
    Steelhead only chance will be if Mala hat can get the property into reserve status. Would Malahat risk alienating themselves over this.
    I think if you look into Malahat purchase of Bamberton it might be part of the deal. How else could they afford to buy that property.

  • della dee

    yup! read it and weep senior staff

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