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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.. . . . .”






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\protectourpark or




4 candidates for 3 positions


Rose Turcasso, Joe Lamb and incumbent Larry Payeur

Rose Turcasso


CLPB Candidate (Cultus Lake), Joe Lamb


Incumbent Commissioner (Cultus Lake), Larry Payeur

LARRY PAYEUR (Incumbent)

Other candidates running in Cultus Lake are:

Charlotte Hall (Incumbent)



5 candidates for 2 positions


MALCOLM SHANKS (incumbent)


David Renwick

Darcy Bauer

Carlton Toews – (Incumbent)

Scott Allinott






3 candidates for one Position

Taryn Dixon

Maxwell Newhouse

Rolf Soft


2011 Election Results

In the City of Chilliwack 7 Candidates ran in the 2011 Election for 5 positions as Commissioner on the Cultus Lake Park Board, here are the results.

2011 Election Results

In 2014 there will only be 2 positions as Commissioner on the Cultus Lake Park Board voted in by Chilliwack residents.


Changing the Park Act, a big deal or not?

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?



Click on the link below to connect to  Cultus Lake Park Board  Election Bylaw No. 2014-02



Click on this link to connect to BC Local General Election Information on the home page of the Cultus Lake Park Board web site:


Click on the link to connect with Elections BC



How Commissioners’ voted on honesty in reporting to the media

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



DEMOCRACY, taken for granted?

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:democracy

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.

 Gord Campbell

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.


Was POP candidate meeting fair? . . . One Laker’s view

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 Campbell

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.



Joe Lamb (Cultus Lake)

CLPB Candidate (Cultus Lake), Joe Lamb

CLPB Candidate (Cultus Lake), Joe Lamb

Joe Lamb is running for the Cultus Lake Park Board in Cultus Lake. An accomplished businessman, Joe has lived at the lake with his wife and daughter for the past 8 years. He has served on the Cultus Lake Future Planning Committee for the past 3 years.

Click here to learn more about Joe Lamb