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October 21, 2014

Elected Commissioners vote against democracy

by Protect Our Park

Submitted by Rick Williamson

Item #1 of Rick’s listdemocracy_silenced

As you know, many, many Lakers feel that the biggest issue with the current Board is when 4 Commissioners voted to withdraw Board support for trying to get the Cultus Lake Park Act (CLPA) changed to bring a fair, represent ative democratic election process to Cultus. 2 Commissioners who voted to withdraw this Board support for getting the CLPA changed are running for re-election – Charlotte Hall and Carleton Toews. I have to wonder why they withdrew support?

First some background:

In November 2011, the previous Board approved 3 motions directing Staff to write 2 letters to the Provincial Government and to solicit support from several other groups including First Nations, Chilliwack and the Cultus Lake Community Association, all asking to have the CLPA amended to allow just 5 Commissioners, all to be elected by Cultus Residents. Commissioner Charlotte Hall, who was on this previous Board, voted in favour of the motions. You can read the actual motions in the  November 23, 2011 meeting minutes posted on the Board’s website.

In the summer of 2013, the Listers circulated their petition which asked for essentially the same things the Nov. 2011 Board motions asked for. This petition was signed by over 900 citizens and had the support of MLA Laurie Throness.

At the September 11, 2013 Board meeting, almost 2 years after the November 2011 Board motions were passed, Sacha Peter submitted recommendations that all of the November 2011 motions be rescinded. It was revealed at that meeting, that Park Staff had done nothing in regards to the November 2011 Board directive. It begs the question: Why did Staff not follow Board directive? But that is a issue for the Board to deal with.

At this Sept. 11 Board meeting, 3 Commissioners (McCrea, Payeur & Shanks) wanted the Nov. 2011 motions to stand and for Staff to finally write the letters, etc. while 4 Commissioners (Hall, Peter, Skonberg & Toews) wanted these motions rescinded. The 4 got their way, the Nov. 2011 motions were rescinded and the letters will not be written. Instead, the Board majority (Hall, Peter, Skonberg & Toews) approved trying to sort out land tenure.

When these 4 Commissioners voted to rescind the November 2011 motions, they were knowingly going against the wishes of the 900+ who signed the petition.

As we know, the Lister petition got results and the CLPA was amended to bring a fair, representative democratic election process to Cultus Lake.

As Charlotte Hall is one Commissioner who voted to rescind the November 2011 Board motions (which she voted in favour of), on September 16, I asked Hall why she voted to withdraw Board support?

On September 17, Hall replied, essentially claiming that in 2011, a MLA told her the CLPA would not be changed, so why try again? Also included in that reply, Hall stated: that there are more pressing issues that need changing in the Park Act.

On September 18, I e-mailed Hall asking: What, exactly do you consider to be “more pressing” than democracy?

As Hall had not responded, on October 9, I sent a follow-up e-mail asking the same question: What, exactly do you consider to be “more pressing” than democracy?

On October 11 Hall finally replied and this is what she said:

Rick I did not reply because I assumed you have already decided on the answer yourself, however if you would like my answer I think land tenure and borrowing limits are two pressing issues that need to be addressed in the Park Act.
The democratic voting process did in my opinion need changes, was it first in line? Not in my opinion based on the last three elections at Cultus Lake when only two or three residents ran for Commissioner positions, we already had five residents sitting at the table.

Now ignoring Hall’s comment to me included in her first sentence – a comment that I take offence with, let’s examine her rationale. (By the way, I agree that many more changes are needed to the CLPA.)

So, to the items that Hall considers to be “more pressing” than bringing a democratic election process to Cultus:

  1. Land tenure- (Isn’t this the issue that Peter kept raising, both to the press and at Board meetings?) I agree it would be great to get land tenure settled, but I’m glad we got the election process changed first, because, now we have the ability to actually vote for candidates who may be pro-active in trying to get this issue resolved. The current Board, including Charlotte Hall and Carleton Toews, did next to nothing. If we had waited to get land tenure resolved before asking for any CLPA changes – we’d be waiting for a long, long time in my opinion.
  1. Borrowing limits – I agree, the $50,000 limit established by the CLPA is totally inadequate, but that did not stop this Board from taking out a $300,000 line of credit. As part of the discussions with MLA Throness, increasing borrowing limits was discussed. It was agreed that if too many changes to the CLPA were asked for, then nothing may happen. Given this, it was decided to just ask for the voting/election changes.
  1. We already have 5 residents on the Board – (Isn’t this the same justification that Sacha Peter gave to the press?) The reason why 900+ citizens signed the petition, which lead to getting the CLPA changed, isn’t based on where Commissioners live – it is based on who gets to vote for those Commissioners. It seems that Charlotte Hall still does not get the significance of this distinction which is a basic principle of democracy.

So, Charlotte Hall, based on her statements above, feels increasing borrowing limits is more important than allowing Lakers to vote for their representatives.

Given Hall’s position on this basic democratic principle, come election time, you need to ask yourself if Charlotte Hall deserves your vote.


WATCH FOR NEXT POSTING SOON. . . .for item #4 on Rick’s list

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