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October 5, 2014

Changing the Park Act, a big deal or not?

by Sue Cockburn

Submitted by Rick Williamson

In Laker Gord Campbell’s recent e-mail, he stated that the breaking point for him was when the current Board (well the majority) withdrew their support for getting the Cultus Lake Park Act (CLPA) amended. Over their term, the majority of this Board (usually the same 4 Commissioners) have made some pretty outrageous decisions, but I have to agree with Gord – this one was about as bad as it gets – to me, it clearly displays how these 4 view the public they are supposed to be serving.

Here is a brief recap of how things unfolded (I can provide details if requested):

  1. At the November 23, 2011 Board meeting, then Commissioner Terry Woodrow made 3 motions re the CLPA as follows (Note – I am paraphrasing these motions)

(a) Motion 2462-11: CLPA be amended so that just 5 Commissioners, all elected by Cultus Lake folks

(b) Motion 2463-11: The provincial Ministry should be asked to make the above noted amendments to the CLPA

(c) Motion 2464-11: Support for the above changes to the CLPA should be solicited from the Cultus Lake Community Association; First Nations, Chilliwack & FVRD

All of the above 3 motions were passed with Commissioners Hall & Skonberg among those voting in favour. Commissioner Peter was not at the meeting.

  1. In the summer of 2012, the Listers organized their on-line petition to have the CLPA changed – essentially the same changes as in the Nov. 2011 Board motions. This petition was read in the BC Legislature, but unfortunately, was in the wrong format for the provincial government to act on it.
  1. In the summer of 2013, the Listers organized another petition in the acceptable format and over 900 citizens signed it asking the Provincial government to amend the CLPA – again asking for essentially the same items as asked for in the Nov. 2011 Board motions.
  1. August 14, 2013 Board meeting, Commissioner McCrea makes a motion that the Board be provided with an update from Staff on the Nov. 23, 2011 motions. McCrea’s motion is passed with Peter, Skonberg and Toews among those voting in favour of getting this update. Hall was absent.
  1. At the September 11, 2013 Board meeting, there was no update from Staff as directed by the Aug. 14, 2013 motion, but instead Peter submitted a multi-page memo suggesting that these Nov. 2011 motions be rescinded. Based on documentation provided in the meeting Agenda Package and comments made by Ron Campbell, CAO, the Board was told that, in the almost 2 years since the motions were approved, Campbell and his Staff had not followed up regarding these Nov. 2011 Board motions. Campbell’s reasons for not following the Board’s order/directive was flimsy and stretches my limits of believability as he claims he needed “Direction from the Board”.

After some very interesting and revealing discussion, Hall makes a motion to rescind the 3 Nov. 2011 motions (i.e. Hall moves what Peter had recommended in his lengthy memo) and her motion is approved with Hall, Peter, Skonberg and Toews voting to rescind, while McCrea, Payeur & Shanks voted against rescinding. This decision effectively withdrew Board support for amending the CLPA in spite of the fact that over 900 citizens had signed the petition and that it was to be submitted to MLA Laurie Throness for presentation to the legislature. So why would these 4 Commissioners (3 of which were elected by Chilliwack residents – Peter, Skonberg & Toews) vote to deny bringing a representative democratic election process to Cultus? Why would these 4 effectively give the finger to those 900+ citizens by officially going against what so many of their constituents wanted? I have no idea. That is something you will have to ask them.

  1. I recently re-played the recording of that Sept. 11, 2013 meeting and during the discussion, Hall (who voted to rescind) said:  “I believe that people who signed that petition, 900 people, didn’t have the facts and count on us to have that information and make those decisions for them.” Of note, Hall never revealed what these “facts” are and she never expressed any concerns about it back in Nov. 2011 when she voted in favour of the 3 original motions.
  1. Given Hall’s reply in #6 above, I wrote and asked her what these “facts” are that she referred to? Hall replied that she had been told by Provincial ministers that the government would not amend the CLPA. As near as I can determine, the most recent time she was told this was in September 2011, 2 months before she voted in favour of the 3 motions. As she voted in favour in 2011, I must assume that these “facts” were not a concern to her at that time, but, for some reason, did become a concern in September 2013 (2 years later). I wonder what changed her mind? Hall also stated in her reply to me:  “I am of the opinion that the change to the democratic election process is a great benefit to our community but I also see the need for more pressing issues that need changing in the Park Act.”  This stunned me, so on Sept. 18, 2014 I asked her what she considered were “more pressing issues” than having a fair democratic election process at Cultus? So far, no reply.

Laker Gord Campbell said in his recent e-mail: “To me, this should be the single biggest issue in this election.” I agree with him. Do you? If not, what is the biggest issue to you?

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