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October 4, 2014

How Commissioners’ voted on honesty in reporting to the media

by Sue Cockburn

Submitted by Rick Williamsonvoting

As part of my review of Commissioner voting records for the last 3 years, I found this particular one very interesting and very telling. Keep the following in mind when casting your ballot in the upcoming election.

Details were taken from the approved minutes posted on the Board’s website.

From the August 14, 2013, Board meeting – Motion 3201-13: “THAT when representatives of the Cultus Lake Park Board are interviewed by the media they must only give statements that they know will be supported by a majority of the Board and that are factual.” Motion defeated.

Voting in favour: McCrea, Payeur & Shanks

Voting against: Peter, Skonberg & Toews

Hall was absent

So what triggered this motion?  I think it is safe to say that July 22, 2013 article in the Chilliwack Progress and the July 23, 2013 article in the Chilliwack Times probably had something to do with it.

These articles can be read at:

In these articles you will see that MLA Laurie Throness said he would present the 900+ name petition (asking for the Cultus Lake Park Act to be amended to allow Cultus folks to vote for their Commissioners) to the BC Legislature. Chair Sacha Peter was also interviewed and quoted in these articles when he said:

Chilliwack Times: 

“Right now, the people of Chilliwack get to control, through the election, who gets to be on the board of the Cultus Lake Park Board. If there is a change of control [it] would trigger First Nations consultation.”

“Peter emphasized that his “grave concern” was that if such a change were to even be considered, a “very costly” consultation process with Chilliwack and First Nations would be required.”

“…. Peter said the same thing (i.e. land claims by the Soowahlie band) would happen if the petitioners’ changes were implemented.”

Chilliwack Progress:

“The other risk, Peter stated, which has not been addressed by petitioners, is if the composition changes to five commissioners elected by lake residents exclusively, “it would likely trigger consultation requirements by local First Nations over the lands of Cultus Lake Park.”

“That would result in a costly and complex process, and greatly increase the risk for leaseholders to see an undesirable outcome for them.”

At that same time, Peter made similar comments in his July 23, 2013 BLOG post about the First Nations consultation, including: Such a consultation would likely result in a lengthy and costly engagement with very risky outcomes for residential leaseholders.  (Note -interestingly enough, this July 23, 2013 post is no longer available on Peter’s BLOG, but back when it was originally posted, I downloaded a copy in order to preserve it for future reference.)

At the September 11, 2013, public Board meeting, a Laker asked Peter if he had discussed the proposed changes to the Cultus Lake Park Act with the local First Nations and Peter replied “No,”  and yet he obviously still considered it appropriate to tell the media that the First Nations would trigger a land claim if the Act was so amended, prompting many Lakers to accuse him of fear mongering and using scare tactics.

Given the provincial government amended the Cultus Lake Park Act and First Nations land claims were not an issue, Peter’s comments to the media have been proven factually incorrect.

What would motivate Peter, who was elected out of Chilliwack, to make these statements?  And why would Skonberg and Toews (both were also elected out of Chilliwack), as evidenced by their vote on the above Board motion, support Peter’s approach for talking to the media? I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine.

A Laker comments on Rick Williamson’s article

Rick – I think you missed a point here.  The motion also required them to know that their statements will be supported by a majority of the board.  By defeating this motion the implication is that they don’t wish to be bound by that requirement either.  They want to be free to make statements to the media that are not supported by the majority of the board.  Supporting a divisive policy such as this by voting to defeat McCrea’s motion demonstrates to me that these board members are more interested in playing politics and personal aggrandizement than they are in being effective leaders who make decisions that are in the community’s best interests.

Teresa Lesberg


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