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14
Nov

TOP TEN GOOD DECISIONS MADE BY THE PRESENT BOARD

Submitted by Rick williamson

GOOD IDEA

Over the last 3 years, even though this Board has made many, many decisions that I consider to be inappropriate, they have made some good ones as well and following is a recap of those items.

Everyone will have their own items that they feel should be on this list. This list represents my personal opinions so I will provide the reasoning why I included the items that I have. My rationale will be in red.

With apologies to David Letterman, here is tonight’s Top Ten List.

Tonight’s category: The Top Ten Good Decisions Made by the current Cultus Lake Park Board

#10 Nov. 13, 2013 Voted to approve the Cultus Lake Christmas event. (This was a great community event that had something for Lakers of all ages – so it helped bring the community together at very little cost to the Board.)

#9July 9, 2014 Voted to allow RCMP to tie their boat up to public dock over the summer. (This made it more convenient for the RCMP to access their boat which allowed the RCMP to spend more time on the water, thus improving overall boater safety.)

#8. Oct. 10, 2012 Voted to approve a new residential lease document. (This new lease makes it easier for Lakers to get mortgages which also means it is easier for Lakers to sell if they chose.)

#7. April 11, 2012 Voted to approve Cultus Lake Days. (Another great community event with something for the entire family, all at minimal cost to the Board.)

 #6. October 24, 2012 Voted to have quarterly Financial Statements and year-end audited statements posted on the website. (Allows Lakers to review the financial state of the Park and this helps to improve accountability and transparency of the Board.)

#5. July 7, 2014 Voted to rescind Ron Campbell’s appointment as Deputy Election Officer. (Originally Campbell, as Deputy Election Officer would be reporting to Christine Woodward, as Chief Election Officer. As Campbell is Woodward’s boss in the Park Office, Campbell’s appointment was a clear conflict and if not reversed, could have cast a cloud over the entire election process. Fortunately, the Board recognized this potential conflict and Meghan Shattock was appointed in Campbell’s place.)

#4. March 13, 2013 Voted against the Staff proposal to change all Lake addresses from 3 numbers to 5 numbers (To me, this Staff proposal made no sense at all. If it had gone ahead, then every Laker would need to change their addresses for things like bills, Driver’s licences, mortgages, passports, etc. It would have been a huge hassle, along with some out-of-pocket costs for Lakers for no real benefit that I can see.)

#3. April 2013 (as the decision was In-camera, I don’t know the exact date) vote to grant all Commercial leaseholders (CL) 12-month occupancy for their caretaker/security suites and all would pay the same annual lease amount. (This was a step forward in fairness and equality and treats all CL’s with suites the same. It corrected the earlier, discriminatory practice of charging some CL’s the same amount for 6-month occupancy as other CL’s paid for 12-month occupancy. These caretaker suite fees are in addition to the commercial lease payment each CL already paid.) Unfortunately, this decision was reversed 7 months later on November 27, 2013, and the previous, discriminatory plan was re-instated, albeit at a different lease rate than in the past.

 

#2. January 9, 2013 Voted to establish Cores Services Committee to look at ways to reduce Park expenses. (Having a fresh set of eyes looking at Park finances can only result in a positive outcome. Any cost reductions discovered would be a positive for all Lakers. It can identify inefficiencies, improve accountability and transparency and can result in overall savings to the Park.) Unfortunately, this Committee was dissolved before it completed its task and so no recommendations were made. It is especially unfortunate as the dissolution took place just days after the Park’s Accountant was arrested and charged with defrauding his former employer. As it turns out, this Accountant also defrauded the Park.)

#1. (I could not find the actual date this was approved.) Video-tape Board meetings and post them on the Board’s website. (This improves Board, individual Commissioner and Park Staff accountability as there is a record of what was said at meetings and by whom. As not all Lakers can attend the meetings, it  allows all Lakers to view the meetings on their own schedule in their homes – a real positive step forward in accountability, transparency and communicating with community.)

 

12
Nov

TOP TEN WORST DECISIONS BY THIS BOARD AND WHO VOTED FOR/AGAINST THEM

Submitted by Rick Williamson

Top Ten 1

Over the last 3 years, this Board has made many, many decisions that I consider to be inappropriate and following is a recap of the “Top Ten” of these decisions.

 

Narrowing it down to ten was tough for me, so here are two, while not cracking the Top Ten, definitely rate an “honourable mention”:

 

(A) One day after the Park’s Accountant was arrested and charged with defrauding his former employer of $850,000 (a charge he later pled guilty to), the Board issued a Press Release advising that Staff (presumably this means Ron Campbell) had done a “thorough review” of all park financial stuff and everything was OK. As it turns out, everything was not OK as the Accountant also defrauded the Park of $$ as well.

 

(B) Ron Campbell, CAO has stated that The Cultus Lake Park Act (CLPA) does not apply to Sunnyside Campground as Sunnyside is not specifically described in the CLPA and so is not part of the Park. Now if it is true that the CLPA does not apply, why would the Board cite the CLPA as giving it authority to enact the Sunnyside Campground Bylaw? This statement by Campbell, if true, has many, many far-reaching impacts that go well beyond the Campground. For some reason, Campbell and the Board are not willing to share the alleged legal opinion that they say they are using as justification for their position.

 

And now on to the Top Ten

Hopefully, this recap will assist you in making an informed decision when you cast your ballot in November. Full details of the items below have been previously reported.

 

As this is to assist you when voting, I have only included the voting records of Commissioners who are seeking re-election. All voting records were taken from Board-approved meeting minutes posted on the Board’s website and I have listed the meeting date. In the interests of keeping this as short as possible, I have paraphrased the issues/motions below, but full details are available in the Board minutes.

 

With apologies to David Letterman, here is tonight’s Top Ten List

 

Tonight’s category: The Top Ten Bad Decisions by the current Cultus Lake Park Board

 

#10: May 28, 2014 Motion to appoint Ron Campbell, CAO as Deputy Election Officer, reporting in this election role to his subordinate, Christine Woodward. Motion was passed. (personally, I believe this was an obvious conflict having Campbell report to his subordinate in this crucial election role) **

Voting in favour of Campbell’s appointment: Carleton Toews

Voting against Campbell’s  appointment: Larry Payeur & Malcolm Shanks

Charlotte Hall was absent

** Campbell’s appointment was rescinded at a later meeting due to what Chair Sacha Peter said was “an abundance of caution.”

 

#9: Motion to change how meeting minutes are recorded for Public Question Period, so that only the topic is recorded in the minutes, not the actual questions and answers, thereby avoiding any individual accountability for answers given. Motion was defeated

Voting in favour of topic only: Hall & Toews

Voting against topic only: Shanks

Payeur was absent

 

#8: Feb. 22, 2012 Motion that Staff provide the Board with year-end financial statements showing actual vs budget. Motion was defeated.

Voting in favour of getting Year-end Actual vs Budget statements: Shanks

Voting against getting Year-end Actual vs Budget statements: Hall & Toews

Payeur was absent

 

#7: Feb. 8, 2012 Motion to deny Commissioner Shanks from receiving documents that Staff was legally required to give him (per BC’s Freedom of Information Act). Motion to deny Shanks was passed.

Voting in favour of giving Shanks the documents: Shanks

Voting to deny Shanks the documents: Hall & Toews

Payeur was absent

 

#6: Aug. 14, 2013 Motion that Commissioners must be factual when being interviewed by the media. Motion was defeated.

Voting in favour of being factual with the media: Payeur & Shanks

Voting against being factual with the media: Toews

Hall was absent

 

#5: Several motions passed on numerous occasions (for just one example, see the Jan. 27, 2014 Special Meeting) approving Bylaws with fines in excess of the $50 limit set in the Cultus Lake Park Act: (note – these were passed even though Ron Campbell, CAO stated the Board cannot do so legally.)

Voting in favour of fines over $50: Hall & Toews (*)

Voting against fines over $50: Payeur & Shanks

(*) I am aware of two instances where Payeur voted in favour and for one of these he attempted, unsuccessfully, to get it reversed at the next meeting

 

#4: Sept. 11, 2013  Motion to dissolve the Core Services Committee shortly after the Park Accountant was arrested and charged with defrauding his previous employer of $850,000 and before the Committee could make any recommendations for reducing Park expenses. (It turns out this Accountant also defrauded Cultus Lake Park of $$) Motion was passed.

Voting in favour of dissolving the Core Services Committee: Hall & Toews

Voting against dissolving the Core Services Committee: Payeur & Shanks

 

#3: Nov. 27, 2013 Motion to reverse a Board decision to allow 12-month occupancy of caretaker suites for the 2 waterfront commercial leaseholders. Motion was passed. (As this reversal motion was made 7 months after the original decision, it violated the Park’s Meeting Procedure Bylaw.)

Voting in favour of taking away the 12-month occupancy: Hall & Toews

Voting against taking away the 12-month occupancy: Payeur & Shanks

 

#2: Motion to silence the public by indefinitely suspending Question Period (QP). This decision violated a Park Bylaw. (Note – this voting record was obtained under the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Act). Motion was passed.

Voting in favour of suspending QP: Hall & Toews

Voting against suspending QP: Payeur & Shanks

 

And the #1 Most Inappropriate Action taken by the current Cultus Lake Park Board: 

 

Sept. 11, 2013 Motions to withdraw support for getting the Cultus Lake Park Act (CLPA) amended to bring a fair, representative and democratic election process to Cultus Lake after 900+ citizens signed a petition asking for these very same amendments. Motions were passed.

Voting in favour of withdrawing Board support for a democratic election process: Hall & Toews

Voting against withdrawing Board support for a democratic election process: Payeur & Shanks

 

Do you notice a pattern here? Some Commissioners consistently vote to do things within the law and Park bylaws and in the interests of the public. Others – not so much.

 

Remember these items while casting your ballot in the upcoming election. To vote for a particular candidate simply because he/she is your friend or because they seem to be nice is a perilous way to exercise your democratic right. I encourage you to vote for the candidates who have the necessary knowledge, background, and in the case of incumbents – the proven track record, to serve the needs of the entire community in a fair, ethical and honest way, while obeying laws and Bylaws.

Note:  Bolding and coloured fonts done by POP

 

8
Nov

LONG TIME LAKER PULLS HEAD OUT OF THE SAND

Submitted by Mary-Ann Andrew ( nee Sharon ) 

Head-in-sand_Eichel

I was first introduced to the lake at the tender age of 5 when,  in 1952,  my family moved to Maple Street from Chilliwack. Having spent my childhood & teen years at the lake, my immediate instinct when having  children of my own was to have them grow up here – so my husband & I purchased a cabin on Pine Street in 1980 – even before we had a proper home where we lived in Abbotsford.  For the next 30+ years we raised our family at the lake each and every summer – an experience our children are now sharing with their families.

 

During all these years the politics of the lake were not in our field of view. We only heard backyard gossip regarding the behavior of the various boards, most of which was negative. Some boards & management appeared competent, others not so much.  All we heard was rumor & innuendo – no real information as to what was really happening.  We ourselves experienced many silly things such as having our kids removed from their backyard tent in the middle of the night , parking tickets for parking the wrong way on the street, not being able to watch the stars from our wharf after 1100 PM and being unable to go for a quick, refreshing midnight dip on a hot, summer night.

 

Then along came Rick Williamson….after asking the board of the day to initiate a website, so residents & leaseholders could receive accurate information regarding board business, and being told it was not possible, he created his own “Cultus Lake Updates.”  These updates gave a clear, accurate & verifiable account of the day-to-day workings of the CLPB and senior management……the good and the bad.  We wish to publicly thank Rick for helping to bring our “heads out of the sand” and to gain an interest in the political workings of the  governance of our park.

 

It was Rick’s clear dissemination of information, along with the Lister’s petition, that made Bill 27 a reality. They also sparked an awakening in the rest of us to get personally involved and to actually do something other than talk – hence a fresh slate of promising candidates to choose from in the upcoming election.  Again, our personal thanks to Rick & the Listers.

 

While Bill 27 has solved one aspect of our weak governance structure;  I still have concerns over the continued flow of accurate information and the accountability of future boards, as Rick has indicated he will no longer be issuing updates after the end of this year.  It is now up to us, as residents and leaseholders, to remain vigilant, active and politically engaged to make sure we encourage and support future candidates / commissioners that are capable and will do due diligence when making decisions on behalf of the community.

 

Saturday, Nov. 15 will be our first opportunity to have our voice heard – please vote!!!

 

28
Oct

CONFLICTING ACTIONS CREATE DISTRUST

Submitted by Rick Williamson

#4 of Rick’s list of the Boards inappropriate actions:

After I issued the Update with Carleton Toews‘ campaign material, a Laker reminded me of an e-mail exchange that I had with Toews.Feel like pulling your hair out?!

Toews had sent an email to several Lakers and in that e-mail he said: “DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION about the Park Management …. Ask it, write a Commissioner or the Board and you will get an answer”.  Based, on this commitment, I e-mailed Toews earlier in 2014 asking him to explain a public statement that he had made as part of his announcement that he is seeking re-election. Toews replied to my question: As I have requested in the past please do not email me, I ask that you would not include me in your Newsletter.

So, if I’m not supposed to include him in my “newsletter”, why did Toews accept my offer to pass on his latest campaign material? Puzzling!

Given he asked me to pass on his campaign material, I must assume that Toews is now OK with me mentioning him in my “newsletter”, so, this Update is all about Commissioner Toews and will detail an action by him that, in my opinion, is so inappropriate and so “not in the best interests of the Community” that it makes my “Spider sense” tingle.

I’ll make some Editorial Comments and these will be noted as “EC”.

In Early 2013, Chair Peter had, what I thought was a great idea – he created the Core Services Committee (CSC) with a mandate to look at ways to reduce expenses. To me, having a fresh set of eyes reviewing an organization’s expenditures and asking “Why are you doing this and spending these $$?” is a good exercise. It is done in the corporate world all the time. Often outside contractors specializing in these types of reviews are hired, but given the size of the Park and the tight budget, Peter wisely chose to not bring in outside contractors. Instead he appointed Commissioners McCrea (named CSC Chair) and Toews (named CSC Vice-Chair).

The CSC was to have recommendations to the Board in time for the 2014 budget preparation which typically would be finalized in late November 2013.

The CSC never came up with any cost savings recommendations thanks to Toews, with support from 3 other Commissioners, and here is why:

Included in the September 11, 2013  Meeting Agenda Package (Agenda item 9(a)) is an email from Commissioner Toews recommending that the CSC be dissolved. This email is dated August 21, 2013 and is addressed to Chair Peter and Ron Campbell, CAO – not to CSC Chair McCrea. Toews rationale for dissolving the CSC is that it puts a demand on Staff time. He also states that the internal review by Staff Management have proven that effective reviews of expenses and areas of cost saving have been and are continually initiated by Staff.

(EC – remember this “internal review by Staff” comment by Toews. In other words, Toews is saying there is no need for the CSC (a fresh, independent set of eyes) to look at expenses as Staff has already done a review and Toews is happy with what Staff has come up with after Staff has reviewed its own work. This is not a sound business approach in my book – having Staff do self-reviews and then convincing the boss, or in this case, Toews, that everything is OK so no need to look further.)

Following are comments made at the Sept. 11, 2013 Board meeting when Toews recommendation was discussed:

(For the following: comments attributed to individuals are not necessarily direct quotes, but I believe that I have captured the essence of what was said.)

ToewsThe CSC should be dissolved. Staff has defined the Core Services and results to date have shown that Staff has done an excellent job in cost savings. (EC – So Staff defined what is “core”, not the CSC? Seems backwards to me. Toews gave no examples of these cost savings to support his statement, so I must assume that he simply took Staff’s word for it.)

ShanksDid you discuss this dissolution motion with McCrea, CSC Chair? ToewsNo (EC – this is total disrespect of McCrea and the organization of the Committee where the 2nd in command, bypasses the Committee Chair and goes straight to the Board Chair.)

ToewsWe have an amazing staff and CAO. We can’t look at files without the CAO’s approval. (EC – WHAT!!! Commissioners need the CAO’s approval to look at public Park documents? Who is in charge here?)

McCreaThe CSC had reached a point where the next step was to look at various departments working out of the office.

Here are some relevant dates:

Aug. 21: The Park’s Accountant is arrested and charged with defrauding his former employer, SFU, out of $850,000. (EC – he later pleaded guilty.)

Aug. 21: Toews, who as Board Vice-Chair has cheque signing authority, resigns from CSC and submits his recommendation (see above) to dissolve the CSC to Peter and Campbell. At this point, McCrea is unaware of Toews recommendation.

Aug. 22: The Board issues a Press release advising that the Park’s Accountant is on leave and that Staff has “completed a thorough review” of accounts, etc. and everything is OK. (EC – As was revealed in 2014, this was not true as the former Accountant actually defrauded the Park of funds. So this Staff “thorough review” turned out to be flawed. Given this fact, how much faith can we put in the “internal review by Staff” (see above) that Toews claimed warranted dissolving the CSC?)

Sept. 2: McCrea, unaware of the pending dissolution of the CSC, puts in a request to to Staff to review the cheque register (EC – this is a list of all cheques paid showing who was paid and what the $$ amount is.)

Sept. 6: The Sept. 11, 2013 Meeting Agenda Package is posted, so now McCrea sees Toews recommendation to dissolve the CSC for the first time.

Sept. 11: Board meeting – The motion to dissolve the CSC was approved by Hall, Peter, Skonberg & Toews.   McCrea, Payeur & Shanks opposed dissolving the CSC.

(EC – interesting that Peter creates the CSC, but then votes to dissolve it before the CSC has come up with any recommendations.)

(EC – the above are facts that may make you ask “Hmmm?” Toews is Board Vice Chair and so, has co-signing authority for cheques. The media release announcing that the Park’s Accountant has been charged with fraud is dated Aug. 21 and was issued on the 22nd. The media release says Staff has reviewed things and all is OK. Toews resigns from CSC on Aug. 21 before CSC reviews departments working out of the Office. 

Given what has gone on, you can decide how you feel about this, but here is my take on all of the above:

First, the entire process shows a complete lack of respect by Toews. Toews disrespected McCrea, The Committee and basic “chain of command” reporting within the organization.

Even more inappropriate is the fact that these 4 Commissioners, including Hall & Toews, actually voted to dissolve the CSC, especially given the recent revelations about the Park’s Accountant. Common sense says that it is a necessary precaution to have a fresh set of eyes look at financial info when your accountant has been put in jail and charged with defrauding his former employer.

For Toews to suggest that is sufficient for Staff to police itself in cost savings measures makes no sense to me as Staff has a vested interest in ensuring things remain as they currently are. Any cost cutting could result in job loss, so of course Staff may unlikely to come up with any savings that are substantial. Remember, Toews did not give any examples of Staff initiated cost saving. He makes a general statement but offered nothing to support it. 3 other Commissioners obviously bought what Toews said as they voted to dissolve the CSC.)

A big responsibility of every Park Commissioner is ensuring the financial health of the Park. Given the above, do you think Carleton Toews has met that responsibility sufficiently to warrant being re-elected?

 

 

25
Oct

The best way we can say ‘thank you’ is by voting

Submitted by Norma Dean McCrea

The Gift to Cultus Lake

We are living history in the making at Cultus Lake.  In the 2014 BC Local Elections Cultus Lakes Park will be electing the majority of commissioners on the Cultus Lake Park Board for the first time ever.  As Laurie Throness MLA stated to the BC Legislature on April 8,  2014 while presenting Bill 27 – The Cultus Lake Park Amendment Act 2014 “By reducing the size of the board to five and increasing the number of those to be elected exclusively by the people of Cultus Lake from two to three, we will pass control over that board to where it belongs: to the people of Cultus Lake, who the board serves.”[1]

Laurie Throness went on to say “I want to give credit where it’s due, and I want to thank Gary and Susan Lister in particular for the passion for accountable government at Cultus Lake.”

“As if on purpose, to demonstrate that issue of accountability, after I presented that petition in this House last summer, a majority of the commissioners at Cultus Lake Park Board passed a resolution in opposition to the wording of the petition.  Instead of championing the people of Cultus Lake, the majority of commissioners opposed what the people of Cultus Lake wanted. They felt more accountable to the people who elected them in Chilliwack.”

“Now, on my part, I felt that if the commissioners did not have the democratic incentive to champion what the people of Cultus Lake wanted, I as MLA certainly had that incentive.  I had that mandate, so I began to work hard on their behalf, because I consider myself a public servant.  My role, my job, is to get my constituents to where they want to go.  I felt that their petition was very clear.  It was a set of marching orders.  It showed that the community was united in its desire for change.”

“I met with concerned residents of Cultus Lake.   I answered a lot of correspondence that has been sent to various members throughout this House.  I met with the chair of Cultus Lake Park Board, Sacha Peter, to tell him that I intended to pursue this issue of accountability.  I went to Victoria specifically to meet with public servants in the ministry.  I met with the minister.  I met with the City of Chilliwack.  I met with the regional district.  I appealed to everyone to help me bring more accountability to the residents of Cultus Lake.”[2]

This is a call to say thank you to Gary & Sue Lister who spearheaded the petition that “was the springboard for change.” [3] and to say thank you to our MLA Laurie Throness who worked so hard on behalf of the citizens of Cultus Lake.  We need to say thank you, thank you, thank you and the best way to do that is by voting in this year’s local election.  A great turn out of voters will be the best thank you to the Lister’s and our MLA Laurie Throness.  Bill 27 is a gift to Cultus Lake so let’s give thanks by honouring this gift of democracy by voting.

 

The best way we can say ‘thank you’ is by voting

 

[1] Hansard;   Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Debates Tuesday April 8, 2014 pg. 2929
[2] Hansard;   Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Debates Tuesday April 8, 2014 pg. 2928
[3] Hansard;   Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Debates Tuesday April 8, 2014 pg. 2928
21
Oct

Elected Commissioners vote against democracy

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

19
Oct

YET ANOTHER BROKEN PROMISE

Submitted by Rick Williamson

Item #3 of my list of Board’s inappropriate actions. . .Double Cross

In my opinion #3 on my list of this Board’s inappropriate actions is the way the majority of this Board treated the 2 Waterfront Commercial Leaseholders (CL) re the caretaker suite issue.

Here is a recap of how it all unfolded.

Prior to 2013, 5 Commercial Leaseholders (CL) had Board permission to have caretaker/security suites. While the 3 non-waterfront CL’s were allowed 12-month occupancy, the 2 waterfront CL’s were only allowed 6-month occupancy. All 5 paid an annual fee for the suite, which is in addition to the substantial commercial lease fee that they already pay for their business.

  1. Commissioner Carleton Toews approached the 5 CL’s and encouraged them to ask the Board for 12-month occupancy with standardized rates for all and he gave them advice on how to overcome some potential obstacles to help ensure the Board approved their request.
  1. Based on Toews involvement, advice and encouragement, the 5 CL’s approached the Board as a group and asked for 12-month occupancy with standardized rates for all and the Board approved this in late April 2013.
  1. In late April the 5 CL’s got a letter, signed by Ron Campbell, CAO advising them that the 12-month occupancy had been approved with an annual rate starting at $1,650/year effective January 1, 2014. This rate would increase at a rate of 5.5%/year.
  1. At the May 8 Board meeting, Skonberg made a motion to “reconsider” the previously approved Board motion noted in #3 above. This motion was defeated with Peter, Skonberg & Toews voting in favour of reconsideration and Hall, McCrea, Payeur & Shanks opposing reconsideration.
  1. On November 27, based on a motion from Skonberg, the Board rescinded the 12-month occupancy for the 2 waterfront CL’s and now gives these 2 CL’s 6-month occupancy while paying the same additional $1,650 as the 3 non waterfront CL’s. The 3 non-waterfront CL’s remain at 12-month occupancy.

Now to the procedural aspect. First some general information.

  1. When a Board votes on a motion and makes a decision, there is a procedure in Park Bylaw 001-2004 that allows for that Board decision to be looked at again. This is called “reconsideration” and it has some very specific requirements.
  1. Section 9 of Bylaw 001-2004 covers reconsideration. Section 9.4 says that after a decision has been made, a Commissioner may bring it back for reconsideration any time up to 1 month after the original decision. Skonberg did this with his May 8 motion to reconsider. 9.4 also says that the original decision cannot be discussed unless the motion to reconsider has been approved (i.e. the Board votes “Yes, we should look at this issue again”). Skonberg’s May 8 motion to reconsider was not passed, therefore, the 12-month occupancy was never re-discussed by the Board. To me this means it cannot be brought forward in the future as it has not been reconsidered. In other words, the issue is dead and the original decision stands.

9.5 & 9.6 say that an item can be brought back for “reconsideration” after 6 months as long as certain conditions are met. As the Nov. 27 motion to reconsider was more than 6 months after the original decision, it should never have been allowed. McCrea advised the Board that Skonberg’s motion does not comply with the Bylaw and should be deleted from the Agenda, but Chair Peter disagreed and allowed the vote to continue. To me, this is a clear violation of the Park Bylaw.

  1. Here is what happened at the Nov. 27 meeting:

(a) The motion to reconsider (i.e. look at the original decision again) is carried with Hall, Peter, Skonberg & Toews voting in favour and McCrea, Payeur & Shanks opposing.

(b) The motion to rescind the earlier Board approved decision allowing 12-month occupancy is carried with Hall, Peter, Skonberg & Toews voting in favour and McCrea, Payeur & Shanks opposing.

(c) The motion to restrict the 2 waterfront CL’s to 6-month occupancy for their caretaker suites is carried with Hall, Peter, Skonberg & Toews voting in favour and McCrea, Payeur & Shanks opposing.

So think about the above when casting your ballot in November.

Carleton Toews encourages the CL’s to ask for 12-month occupancy for all and then, when the 5 CL’s do as Toews suggests, Toews ultimately votes against them. What does that tell you about Toews?

In May, Charlotte Hall voted against reconsideration, but changed her vote in November. When asked why she changed her vote, Hall said something to the effect that when she voted on the issue, she thought she was just voting for the $1,650 additional fee. She claims she did not know that she was also voting for 12 month occupancy for all 5 CL’s. Interesting, as I asked McCrea, Payeur & Shanks if they knew they were voting for both 12-month and the $1,650 rate and all 3 said “Yes”. Even Skonberg, the biggest opponent of 12-month occupancy, knew he was voting for both 12 months and the rate. This is shown in his proposal to the Board (see May 8, 2013 Agenda package) where he says (bolding and caps added by me): My other concern is that this Board is offering ALL commercial businesses with security suites year round residency for $1,650 per year.

So Hall votes on a motion that can have a huge impact on a CL’s business and personal life, and she admits that she did not know what she was voting for. What does that do for your confidence in Hall as a Commissioner?

Some recent developments on all of this – it seems as though this Board is not satisfied targeting the 2 waterfront CL’s re their caretaker suites – they have now gone after Frosty’s. Remember, Campbell sent a letter to the 5 CL’s, incl. Frosty’s, telling them the caretaker suite rate will be $1,650. In the recent article in the Chilliwack Progress, Frosty’s owner says the Board now wants to charge over $20,000/year for the caretaker suites (Frosty’s has 2 of these suites). So I guess this Board does not feel it is obligated by the Ron Campbell letter that was sent out in 2013 confirming the $1,650/year rate.

To me, it is disgusting the way the Board has a handled this whole mess, and if you agree you can make your feelings known at the ballot box.

Remember – Charlotte Hall & Carleton Toews, in contravention to the Park Procedure Bylaw, ultimately voted to take-away the previously granted 12-month occupancy for the 2 waterfront CL’s, while Larry Payeur & Malcolm Shanks consistently voted to do the right, honourable and legal thing and stand by the original, April 2013 Board decision.

Keep this in mind when you vote.

WATCH FOR NEXT POSTING SOON. . . .for item #1 on Rick’s list

19
Oct

2 Candidates withdraw from Cultus Election

Gary Lister and Terry Woodrow withdrew their names from the Cultus Lake 2014 Election to make way for three POP candidates whose values they support.  Following are their letters to the public explaining their position.

In view of this we have extended the deadline for ordering POP signs for your property until Wednesday, October 22nd.  For a sign email   protectourpark2014@gmail.com

pop home page

Submitted by Gary Lister

To the residents of Cultus Lake Park

I am writing this letter to inform you and especially all the people who encouraged me to run in the upcoming election that I have withdrawn as a candidate.   This was a very difficult decision for me to make.  The timing of this election was the motivating factor for my decision.  I am going to be busy with other commitments over the next year and because of that, I felt if I were elected, I could not give the necessary time needed to do a good job and that would not be fair to the residents of the lake.

As many of you are aware, I have worked tirelessly, along with other concerned citizens of Cultus Lake, to bring about a democratic election process to its residents; where elected officials could be held accountable by the people they govern.   As a result of this work, the Cultus Lake Park Act was amended this year, thus shifting the balance of power on the Board to Cultus Lake.  The upcoming election will be the first one held under these new changes to the Park Act.

It is refreshing to see candidates whose platform includes:

  1. not silencing the residents, but willing to listen to them;
  2. abiding by the Park Act, and it’s bylaws;
  3. reducing operating expenses;
  4. being transparent in their decision making; and
  5. Being accountable for their actions.

I feel that the new candidates who bring this type of commitment to the community should be supported and those incumbents that are running should be judged on their past performance.

Having the ability to hold our elected officials accountable, given the behaviour of some of the current commissioners, is exactly why I and my wife Sue started the petition calling for a democratic system of government for the residents of Cultus Lake Park.

Lastly, I want to thank all those people who were in support of me running for commissioner.

Sincerely,

Gary Lister

 

Submitted by Terry Woodrow

Cultus Lake Community,

Please be advised that on October 17th, I officially withdrew my name as candidate for the Cultus Lake Park Board election. I stepped back because the sole purpose for running for Commissioner was to effect positive change on the Board and I am of the view that Joe Lamb, Larry Payeur and Rose Turcasso share the same fundamental vision.

As well, the thought that my continued participation could dilute the vote and possibly allow Charlotte Hall to escape being held accountable for her actions including from my perspective, her showing contempt for the public in 2012, was too great for me to bear. I feel both her and Carlton Toews should not be rewarded with the confidence of another term in office.

In my opinion, with the election of Joe Lamb, Larry Payeur and Rose Turcasso from the lake, together with Malcolm Shanks’ election from the City of Chilliwack, the residents of Cultus Lake will be poised to finally be represented by a responsible, ethical and collaborative Board that recognizes the current state of management and makes the necessary changes to properly serve the best interests of this community.

Sincerely

Terry Woodrow

16
Oct

Board Muzzles the Public

Submitted by Rick Williamson

Item #2 of my list:

Surprised girl

This Board has done some pretty inappropriate things in my book. The #1 item on my list was when they withdrew Board support for getting the Cultus Lake Park Act amended to bring a fair, representative and democratic election process to Cultus Lake.  See our Article under News & Media titled Changing the Park Act a big deal or not?’ scroll down to Oct. 5.

The #2 item on my list is when the Board violated it’s own Park Bylaw by indefinitely suspending Public Question Period (QP) thereby denying the public that they are supposed to be serving, the opportunity to ask questions and express their views/opinions to the Board in a public forum.

Before I begin, here is a section from the Park Board’s meeting procedure Bylaw 001-2004 (posted on the Board’s website):

Section 11.5.1 (bolding & underline added by me) The Board shall hold a thirty minute public participation period or until speakers have concluded, whichever comes first  As the Bylaw says shall hold, it means it is not optional – the Board must hold the QP each meeting.

At the June 27, 2012 In-camera Board meeting, Commissioners Hall, Peter, Skonberg & Toews violated the Park Bylaw by voting to suspend QP indefinitely while McCrea, Payeur and Shanks voted against this indefinite suspension. This voting record was revealed to the public months later.

On July 11, 2012, the Board had a chance to correct the above Bylaw violation as a motion was made to “reconsider” the June 27 decision. Commissioners Hall, Peter, Skonberg & Toews voted against reconsidering the earlier decision while McCrea, Payeur and Shanks voted in favour reconsidering the earlier decision. Given the 4 to 3 vote, the decision was not reconsidered.

Many Lakers (including myself) were outraged by this blatant Bylaw violation and filed complaints with the BC Ombudsperson.

Finally, on October 10, 2012, QP was restored – not necessarily because those 4 Commissioners felt that their decision to violate a Park Bylaw and silence the public was inappropriate, but because they were ordered to re-instate QP by the BC Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson told the Board, yet again, that Bylaws must be enforced as written. The Ombudsperson was acting based on those numerous complaints from Lakers.

Also at the October 10, 2012 meeting, Commissioner Charlotte Hall proposed revisions to the QP section Meeting Procedure Bylaw 001-2004 and these revisions, if approved, would make a mockery of the entire QP. Here the options laid out by Hall (these are laid out in the Agenda Package and must be compared to the existing Bylaw to determine the overall impact that is laid out below):

Option 1

She wants to replace “shall hold” with “may hold”

Only questions concerning agenda matters will be considered

Impact if approved:

  1. QP is optional at the Board discretion so the Board can permanently cancel it at any time, with no justification or explanation.
  2. QP is optional at the Board discretion so the Board can cancel it on a meeting-by-meeting basis, with no justification or explanation.
  3. The public cannot ask questions about non-agenda items
  4. The public cannot make statements, only ask questions

Option 2

She wants to replace “shall hold” with “may hold”

QP is held after the meeting has been adjourned

Impact if approved:

  1. QP is optional at the Board discretion so the Board can permanently cancel it at any time, with no justification or explanation.
  2. QP is optional at the Board discretion so the Board can cancel it on a meeting-by-meeting basis, with no justification or explanation.
  3. As QP would be after adjournment;

(i)The Chair has no power to control the meeting as his power ends when the meeting is over

(ii) Commissioners and Staff are under no obligation to stay and answer questions so they could all leave as the meeting has been adjourned

(iii) There will be no record of questions/comments and answers in the Meeting minutes as QP is not part of the official meeting

Option 3

After either 1 or 2 is approved, Hall then suggests a 3rd option which allows adding questions re agenda, followed by general questions to either Option #1 or #2. I assume these questions would be duly recorded on the minutes, but this is not stated.

Impact if approved:

  1. The public could not make any statements

(Note – previous Board Chairs have insisted on “questions only” and here is what I observed many times: If a Laker made a statement that was critical of the Board or Staff, the Chair would often interrupt and say “What is your question?” However, if the Laker made a statement that complimented the Board or Staff, the Chair would simply say “Thank you.” So statements were OK as long it involved something the Board wanted to hear.)

So at this stage, it is either Option 1 or 2 above, then with or without allowing general questions for a possible 4 outcomes.

Commissioner Charlotte Hall then goes on to propose:

  1. Members of the public are to address their questions to the Chair (this is consistent with the current Bylaw)
  1. Each “question” has a 2 minute time limit (the 2 minute limit is consistent with the current Bylaw, but the current Bylaw says each “address” is limited. In other words, the current Bylaw allows the public to take 2 minutes to make a statement without asking a question, Hall’s proposal is no statements – questions only.)
  1. If any Commissioner considers the conduct of the public to be improper, QP will end immediately. So the member of the public is not ejected, instead QP is shut down completely for the evening (punish everyone for the actions of one). This power to shut down QP is given to ANY Commissioner. I’m sure each Commissioner may have a different definition of what “improper conduct” is. Is this not contrary to basic parliamentary procedure which requires a majority vote before actions can be taken? The biggest problem – there is no definition of what “improper conduct” is. One can hardly be expected to play the game properly if no one tells you EXACTLY what the rules are.
  1. The Board or Staff do not have to answer any questions (so why have a QP if no one has to answer the questions?)

If the reason QP was cancelled is because of alleged improper behaviour – then what do most of Hall’s proposals have to do with that? The answer – nothing! It seems as though this alleged improper behaviour is being used as an excuse to try to limit any kind of public input and any accountability by the Board or Staff.

Fortunately, Hall’s proposals were defeated with Hall, Peter and Skonberg voting in favour of Hall’s recommendations while McCrea, Payeur, Shanks & Toews voted against Hall’s proposals.  I give full credit to Toews for breaking his usual voting pattern and voting in support of the public on this issue.

WATCH FOR THE NEXT POSTING SOON. . . for item #3 on  Rick’s list

“. . . . .  the way the majority of this Board treated the 2 Waterfront Commercial Leaseholders (CL) re the caretaker suite issue.. . . . .”

 

 

 

 

14
Oct

Chilliwack Progress talks about POP

Quartet of POP candidates introduced

by  Jennifer Feinberg – Chilliwack Progress

posted Oct 10, 2014 at 12:00 PM

It’s not a slate.

But four candidates are being presented and promoted as a group by Protect Our Park for election next month to the Cultus Lake Park Board, said POP spokesman Bob McRea.

All four individuals have agreed to the values POP stands for: accountability, honesty, respectfulness and transparency, said McRea, a former Park Board Commissioner.

The four POP-backed candidates include incumbents Larry Payeur and Malcolm Shanks, and newcomers business man Joe Lamb and retired RCMP officer Rose Turcasso. Shanks is standing for election by Chilliwack residents, while the other three will be considered only by Cultus Lake electors.

McRea said he is not running for re-election, and instead is helping out to get these individuals elected to the Park Board.

“I felt I could be more effective doing this right now, rather than sitting on the board. I really care about the future of Cultus Lake Park, and we need really good management.”

He said Payeur and Shanks have “a proven track record” and that the newcomers also reflect the four key traits, and have additional talents to bring to the table as well.

“We are excited about our excellent candidates and this campaign, and look forward to your support,” added McRea.

See individual bios at www.facebook.com\protectourpark or www.protectourpark.com.