Submitted by Mary-Ann Andrew ( nee Sharon )
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!!!
Submitted by Norma Dean McCrea
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.”
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.”
This is a call to say thank you to Gary & Sue Lister who spearheaded the petition that “was the springboard for change.”  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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
- not silencing the residents, but willing to listen to them;
- abiding by the Park Act, and it’s bylaws;
- reducing operating expenses;
- being transparent in their decision making; and
- 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.
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.
Quartet of POP candidates introduced
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.
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):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
Submitted by Rick Williamson
Laker Gord Campbell stated that the breaking point for him was when the majority of the current Board withdrew their support for getting the Cultus Lake Park Act (CLPA) amended. Gord has written another email elaborating on his earlier statement and he has given me the OK to pass this on:
There is a basic principle in any democratic society that citizens have a right to hold their government accountable at election time. This is the way elected officials answer to those they serve and it is one of the very few tools citizens have to exercise their control.
We sometimes take our democracy for granted, but we should not and we must not. Just look at what’s going on in Hong Kong right now and you get a pretty good idea how important our democratic principles are. People are quite literally putting their lives on the line to try and achieve what we already have.
Except at Cultus Lake we didn’t have it. And then, at least to me, it looked like some of our Commissioners tried to stop us from achieving it, and for that there can be no excuse. Any time a politician is not willing to face the citizens they govern, you have to ask yourself why.
And while many think this should just be an issue for Cultus Lake, I submit it should also be an issue for the citizens of Chilliwack. This is not about some Park Board Commissioners trying to deny the citizens of Cultus Lake the right to elect their own Commissioners. To me, the issue is much broader. To me, it is about a group of politicians trying to deny a group of citizens their basic democratic rights. That should scare the pants off everyone. It should concern the electorate in Chilliwack every bit as much as the electorate at Cultus Lake. If politicians are going to try and limit basic, fundamental, democratic freedoms, then you have to ask yourself what else they are capable of.
I can guarantee that it would not matter where I lived, be it Cultus Lake, Chilliwack, or anywhere else. If I ever found out a candidate for political office had tried to ensure they would not have to be accountable at election time to those they govern, there isn’t a snowballs chance in you know where that they would ever get my vote.
As a reminder, on September 11, 2013, Commissioners Hall, Peter, Skonberg and Toews voted to withdraw Park Board support to ask the provincial government to have the Cultus Lake Park Act amended to bring a fair, representative democratic election process to Cultus Lake.
Submitted by Rick Williamson
Following is an e-mail from Laker, Gord Campbell. He offers his views on the POP (Protect Our Park) meeting:
The message I get from POP is that they want to help and support candidates who will act with honesty and integrity within the framework of the law (including the Park Board By-Laws). Pretty simple stuff. A laker has asked “Shouldn’t EVERY candidate want to Preserve Our Park?”. I would agree with that Laker, every candidate should want this, and I’m sure most in fact do want this. But has every candidate in this election, or at least on the current Board, acted with honesty, integrity and within the framework of the law (including the Park Board By-Laws)? I think not and that is what I understand POP wants in its’ candidates.
I do think it’s unfortunate that more Lakers could not have attended the POP meeting that took place. People are feeling left out and I understand that. I also know it was not possible to invite every Laker to attend. I personally would not have wanted people at the meeting who support some of the actions of the current Board. That, in my view would have been most unproductive. For those that support the goals of POP who were not at the meeting, I really do think it’s too bad they could not be in attendance. What they would have seen, was a democratic process meant to put forward a slate of candidates who not only care about our park, but will carry out their actions with honesty, integrity and within the framework of the law (including the Park Board By-Laws).
This coming election at Cultus Lake is vital. I’ll say right off the top that I don’t have any personal dislike for any of the current Commissioners. Most I don’t know so I couldn’t possibly dislike them. I do however have a dislike for some of their politics and the stand they take on certain issues. That’s fair and it’s called democracy. I can overlook a lot, but when, in my opinion, certain Board members tried to prevent the citizens of Cultus Lake from having a majority control on the Board, that was the breaking point for me. I am of course referring to the meeting when certain Board members voted to withdraw support for having the Cultus Lake Park Act amended to allow only Lakers to elect the Commissioners. And they took this action after a petition with over 900 names in support had already been submitted. To me, this should be the single biggest issue in this election.
So what’s at stake in this election is that we will have a new Board with a four year term and, in spite of the actions of certain Commissioners, for the very first time the Cultus Lake citizens have the chance to vote for a majority. Please, let’s talk about the real issues in this election. Let’s not get sidetracked about one meeting that took place when its’ sole purpose was to put forward good, strong candidates who will act in an ethical fashion.
Gord’s last paragraph sums it up nicely in my opinion. Who was/wasn’t invited to a POP meeting should not be an issue – who gets elected is the issue. Let’s not be distracted by the format of a single meeting and instead concentrate on what is important – getting the best qualified candidates elected to serve the needs of the entire Cultus community over the next 4 years.