The Week: Give us full transparency when paid ‘volunteers’ work with CV students

The Week: Give us full transparency when paid ‘volunteers’ work with CV students

The Week: Give us full transparency when paid ‘volunteers’ work with CV students


No doubt Comox Valley school administrators are bustling during this last week of classes before the Christmas-New Years’ holiday break to determine if Youth For Christ volunteers have been praying with students in district schools and how widespread it might have become.

Since we broke the story last week that a Youth For Christ (YFC) volunteer has been concluding his open gym time for Cumberland Grade 8 and 9 students with a prayer session, according to parents of children in that school, questions have arisen about how long this might have been going on and why so many school district administrators looked the other way?

Youth For Christ paid employees have “worked” as volunteers in Comox Valley schools since the 1990s, according to SD71 Board of Education Chair Michele Waite. And former Board Chair Sheila McDonnell also told us that she had been aware of the program occurring with the principal’s agreement and “on the basis of them (YFC) working in a team with groups of children, not one-on-one, no reference to religions, no prayers, etc.”

It seems likely now, given that parents have blown the whistle on YFC leading prayers in Cumberland, that other YFC employees could have done the same in other schools over the past nearly 30 years. It’s also possible this one YFC worker was a renegade. And maybe the district review will conclude that no prayer sessions ever took place and parents raised a stink based on bad intel, though that seems unlikely.

But the problem with using paid volunteers – surely an oxymoron – at all is that they have an employer to whom they are more indebted than to the schools where they volunteer. In this case, that means their underlying mission is the ministry of seeing “these students come to know and love Christ, to experience the resurrection life that He has for His children.” To quote one YFC worker.

A faith-based group could certainly play an important role in supporting our schools, the educators and the students. But the parameters of any faith-based volunteer have to be clear and closely monitored because religious teaching of any kind is prohibited by law in public schools, and the opportunity for proselytizing is tempting.

As former SD71 School trustee Cliff Boldt wrote in a comment to last week’s story, school principals must be held to account for what occurs on their watch. Who else is going to monitor these activities in each school? Well, of course, parents should and, in Cumberland, they did.

Perhaps at the top of the list of mistakes in this matter has been the lack of transparency by school administrators and the Youth For Christ organization.

The YFC workers are not volunteers. They are paid employees of a Christian ministry and their job is to interact with young people. They should be clearly identified as such so students and parents can decide whether it’s appropriate to interact with them.

There should be written agreements for any faith-based group that clearly prohibits religious stories, discussions or practices in conversations or activities inside the schools without written permission from the parents, who have been fully notified.

BC Law requires all schools and provincial schools to be “conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles.” And that “the highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or provincial school.”

Somehow now, Comox Valley school administrators must assure parents that their children will not be exposed to religious proselytizing and that the district can be trusted to monitor volunteers who might be tempted to circumvent this law.


It’s a bitch, isn’t it, when climate change comes right up and slaps you in the face? “Hey, buddy, I’m real and I’m here. My name is Drought.”

The driest fall in more than half a century has shut down the BC Hydro power generating plant on the Puntledge River and it’s also turned off the taps up at Mt Washington. The ski area’s tough water restrictions reflect the severity of our drought and also warn us about the future.

It has long been forecasted that Vancouver Island’s glaciers will disappear within the next two decades and that the declining snowpack will intensify and stretch our summer droughts, which are now extending into winter.

So it’s up to every Comox Valley resident, not just the skiers on the hill, to conserve water. Install low-volume toilets. Flush when necessary. Don’t leave taps open. Plant drought-tolerate species. Is it too late to add recycling wastewater for agriculture, golf courses and parks to the regional sewerage system?

One thing we know for sure about our water resources is that, in the long run, they’re not going to get any better than they are today.

YAY – A breakthrough in nuclear fusion is coming. According to the New York Times, Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced yesterday that they have “successfully used lasers to achieve nuclear fusion whose output exceeded the input from the lasers.” This verifies the potential of nuclear fusion as a future energy source, which will be a game-changer in our fight against climate change. But its practical use is still a long way from being harnessed for broad consumption.

BOO – To those who go about things in the wrong way. SIMBA Investments’ Shawn Vincent and Russell Tibbles basically berated Town of Comox staff at last week’s council meeting for not giving them what they wanted, when they wanted it. And then, doubling down on his Not-The-Nice-Guy Act, Vincent referred to Mayor Nicole Minions by her first name instead of showing the respect for her title that she deserves during a formal council meeting. But then, Vincent was there to tell the council that he is suing the town, so it really couldn’t have gone much better.

YAY — For another two years without auto insurance rate hikes. The NDP government plans to freeze ICBC rates for another 24 months. That will make five years in a row. Switching to the “no-fault” insurance model last year, which eliminated lawyers from the system, has helped keep costs down. And that’s good news for all of us shaking our heads over $7 for a head of lettuce. 





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What’s dire: the lack of Comox subdivisions or climate change and gradual deforestation?

What’s dire: the lack of Comox subdivisions or climate change and gradual deforestation?

“This land is an ecosystem, with worth just because it exists.”

What’s dire: the lack of Comox subdivisions or climate change and gradual deforestation?



Look, I’m not into otherizing and demonizing people. Call me naïve, but I think most people are trying to do the right thing in life, based on their own particular way of looking at the world.

It’s human nature to assume, “The way I see things is the way things really are.” But it’s all a question of perspective.

Take a simplistic example: 18 acres of forest. One set of people will see it as “undeveloped.” To them, it’s an opportunity waiting to be grabbed: some empty, unused land that they can turn into a nice neighbourhood with nice homes where a bunch of nice people will live. In the process, they’ll provide income for themselves, their employees, and many different tradespeople, retailers, and other people in the business of real estate.

Seen through the lens of a developer, we should waste no time developing this valuable asset.

Another set of people sees these 18 acres as a critical part of the fight against climate change. Intact forests and mature trees improve air quality, reduce energy costs, sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water cleanliness, and increase property values. This land is an ecosystem, with worth just because it exists. It’s home to many species of animals, plants and other organisms. It belongs to the community.

Seen through the lens of the climate crisis, we should make every effort to safeguard this valuable asset



On December 7, Comox Council heard from developer Shawn Vincent of Simba Investments and his associate Russ Tibbles. They’re wondering what the holdup is with Simba’s most recent PLR subdivision application for an 18-acre parcel of land on Pritchard Road near Cambridge Road in Comox.

Tibbles said, “The situation is dire.” He said Simba has put in three applications so far and has been waiting for a reply since February 2022 on the third one. The developer is now taking the town to court.

Vincent explained that he was “not here to create friction; we’re trying to follow all the rules, and it’s not happening.” He mentioned several others who have also waited a very long time to replace portions of the woods in Northeast Comox with roads and buildings: Rob Leighton, Bill Toews, Chris Gage and Brian McLean. Vincent said, “We just want to do business.”

It was presented as a simple enough request. But development in 2022 should not be business as usual. When Tibbles said, “The situation is dire,” he was talking about the lack of response to Simba’s application. He seems unaware that the truly dire situation is climate change. We can’t avoid it: we’re in a climate emergency. And it literally gets worse with every new subdivision that goes in where a forest or other natural area used to be.

A particular concern of Russ Tibbles’ was the access trail through the development. Apparently, the town has asked for a 20-metre right-of-way for the trail, and this is a major sticking point. This, said Tibbles, would make the right-of-way the same width as Noel Avenue.

I’ve got to be honest here: that seems a pitifully small green space, compared to the amount of forest that Simba is planning to knock down. Again, perspective. Another way to look at it: 18 acres is 72,843.4 square metres, so a 20-metre strip of greenery doesn’t seem like a terribly huge amount to ask for.

But from Tibbles’ perspective: “It serves no purpose! It wastes valuable residential land…increases the cost of housing, decreases affordability…” and, by forcing Simba to drop another two lots, it adds another $700,000 to the cost of the remaining lots.

Wait, what? Just how much are these properties going to cost, when the lots are that expensive?! We’re clearly not talking about housing that’s affordable in any sense of the word.

So now we’re taking down a forest to build single-family homes that only a tiny percentage of people will be able to afford? And how many homes are we talking about? Forty-eight homes, at last count (the first PLR was for 64 homes). But I digress.



At the end of the council meeting, Joanne McKechnie of Save Our Forests Team Comox Valley presented Council with almost 400 signatures from citizens asking for stronger protections for Comox’s trees.

Her comment: “The 2011 OCP was approved at a time when the global climate crisis was not quite as dire as it is today. The zoning for development of forested parcels of land in the 2011 OCP no longer reflects what is best to preserve the environment in our community, nor does it reflect the best interests of the community.”

Shawn Vincent wrapped up his pitch by saying, “The conversation tonight is about 20 metres, but it’s not just about that… It’s about how we do business together and right now, it’s not great.”

Interestingly, I agree with him on this point. Just for completely different reasons.

Jen Groundwater is a professional editor and writer and a Comox resident.






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The Week: Ken Grant fined by Elections BC and Parksville confronted by development, water issues

The Week: Ken Grant fined by Elections BC and Parksville confronted by development, water issues

The Week: Ken Grant fined by Elections BC and Parksville confronted by development, water issues


This week, we learned that another candidate for the Comox Town Council was fined for misdeeds under the Election Act and Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, that Alberta wants to give the finger to Ottawa and Ontario wants to neuter municipal governments and that some people in Parksville are worried about an 800-unit housing development along the Englishman River. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.

Elections BC, the provincial election watchdog, has fined Comox Councillor Ken Grant for using lawn signs that lacked a complete authorization statement. While the violation would not have likely misled readers of the sign and stickers were used to correct the omissions, Director of Investigations Adam Barnes nevertheless spanked Grant for being a careless numbskull.

He didn’t actually say it like that. Here’s what Barnes said, “You have participated in 6 local government elections as a candidate, and should be aware of the election advertising requirements.”

New Councillor Steve Blacklock was fined earlier this year for a violation of the Campaign Financing Act during his unsuccessful run in the town’s byelection last year.

Neither councillor committed a major crime, but the public expects their council members to pay attention to the rules and details. A similar approach to council business could result in woefully wrong decision-making or expose taxpayers to unnecessary financial liabilities.

After reading our comment about record low water levels in the Puntledge River, a representative of the Greig Greenway Society in Parksville contacted us about similar concerns for the Englishman River.

Waterfront Properties, a bare trustee for the PCI Group, a Vancouver developer, wants to build an 800-unit subdivision on 140 acres of forested land along the river and within a fragile ecosystem. The land at 1465 Greig Road is part of the Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem and borders on the salmon-bearing Englishman River.

At first glance, this sounds a lot like the subdivision proposed by 3L Developments for the triangle of land between the Puntledge and Browns rivers in the Comox Valley. And, in fact, urban sprawl is one similar concern of the Parksville society because grocery stores, schools and other services are more than three kilometers away from where the housing would be built.

But the preponderance of issues in Parksville are different and mostly relate to the city’s low water supply in Arrowsmith Lake and its inability even now to meet the provincial requirements for water levels in the river necessary to sustain salmon habitat.

A retired Nanaimo Regional District engineer has told the Parksville council that the city hasn’t been able to meet the provincial water flow target during the summer months since the Arrowsmith Lake dam opened in 1999.

The society worries that the additional 56 million liters of water necessary to serve 800 new households during the dry months of June through October would stress the city’s drinking water supply and the river’s marine life to unsustainable levels. Further, because the trees, shrubs and grasses that cover the Greig property now capture rainwater and filter it through the soil to the Englishman River aquifer, clearing the land and replacing nature with concrete curbs and gutters would rob even more water for household use.

The society has also pointed out to the city council that the development is proposed for a floodplain, fragments a wildlife corridor and, while the development is primarily a mixture of multi-family housing, it does not include affordable housing below market rates.

A key question for the Parksville council is that if the city’s water supply isn’t sufficient to meet current provincial regulations, how will it provide water for such a large development? Will they need to dam additional lakes? Impose California-style water restrictions during the summer months?

We don’t usually report on issues outside the Comox Valley, but water supply problems are on a non-stop train headed toward every BC community – indeed, everywhere around the world.

BOO – Alberta Premier Danielle Smith wants to unfriend the rest of Canada but retain the benefits. The province’s new sovereignty legislation would allow Smith and her cabinet to choose what federal rules and regulations to follow and ignore the rest. Oh, she still wants Alberta’s share of every Canadian’s federal income taxes, but when Ottawa slows her party’s imposition of the conservative agenda, she will instruct provincial entities, like Crown Corporations, to break those federal laws. Sounds like a dictatorship. Sounds unconstitutional.

BOO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford has implemented his own coup to overthrow democratically elected local governments. The province plans to dictate permitted land uses, densities and building heights to municipal governments, in effect taking over local zoning and removing municipal authority over its planning process. Imagine if Victoria issued permits for 14-story condo buildings in the Comox Valley and disregarded the wishes of local residents. Couldn’t happen in BC … could it?

YAY — At least we don’t live in Indonesia where the government has adopted a new criminal code banning sexual relations except within marriage and prohibitions against insulting the president or the national identity. All the new crimes carry mandatory prison sentences. You might want to cancel that trip to Bali. 

Thought du jour
“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.”
– Henrik Ibsen






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THE WEEK: As Puntledge River goes lower, Colorado drinking recycled wastewater

THE WEEK: As Puntledge River goes lower, Colorado drinking recycled wastewater

Salmon fighting their way up the Puntledge River, a challenge with low water levels

THE WEEK: As Puntledge River goes lower, Colorado drinking recycled wastewater


This week, it’s all about water. How much do we have? How much are we going to get? And, should we be wasting potential drinking water by flushing it into the Strait of Georgia?

Record low water levels in the Mississippi River, that nation’s most important transportation waterway, have caused ships to run aground and last month backed up 3,000 barges full of corn, soybeans and other goods for export. Further west, the shrinking Colorado River threatens everything from drinking water supplies to California’s agriculture industry that supplies us with winter vegetables and fruit.

It’s a similar story across Europe where the worst drought in 500 years has rivers running dry.

With the amount of rain that falls annually on Vancouver Island, you might think we have an abundance of water and that we’ll never have to worry about a shortage of drinking water. Think again, if this fall’s precipitation levels are any harbinger of the future.

We wrote about low water levels in Comox Lake recently and the situation has not gotten better. It’s gotten worse. The Puntledge River flow is so low now that the BC Hydro powerhouse is no longer operating.

Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson says that this fall’s drought has broken the company’s 55-year record of continuously generating electricity on the Punteldge River. But thanks to an integrated provincial hydroelectric system, the Comox Valley will have an adequate supply of power.

That means we can still put up Christmas lights, but our fishy friends aren’t quite so lucky. Hydro has deployed fish salvage crews at key parts of the river. If the river flows go any lower, it will expose salmon eggs in the gravel, which is potentially good news but only for seagulls and eagles.

The company has reduced water flow into the river down to 9 cubic meters per second. It has been at 11.5 m3/s, and the minimum fish habitat flow below the powerhouse and fish hatchery is 15.6 m3/s.

“The one positive about having the river flows so low this fall is that salmon, like chum, which typically spawn after Oct. 1, have spawned in areas near the middle of the river versus the entire riverbed, so without latest river flow reduction, those eggs should remain wetted,” Watson wrote in a report this week.

Still not concerned? Watson says the snowpack in the upper Comox Lake Watershed is less than 25 percent of normal for this time of year. This week’s storms will help, but they aren’t expected to return snowpacks to normal.

Is it too soon for the Comox Valley to consider redirecting wastewater into our drinking water supply?

Sounds yucky, right? But several U.S. cities are already extracting water from their sewage treatment plants and sending it directly to people’s kitchen taps. Recently, Colorado became the first state to adopt direct potable reuse regulations.

The Coors Brewing Company may soon have to drop it’s slogan, “Brewed with Pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water.” According to an Associated Press report, the 105 West Brewing Company in Castle Rock, CO, is already serving beer made with water from recycled sewage and getting no complaints from customers.

Making wastewater potable involves disinfecting it with ozone gas or ultraviolet light and then “filtering it through membranes with microscopic pores.” And it’s an expensive process, especially if new infrastructure is required.

But it looks like the future. The Associated Press reports that Florida, California and Arizona are considering similar regulations and that other states have direct potable reuse projects underway.





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THE WEEK: Let the people have a larger voice at Comox Valley council meetings

THE WEEK: Let the people have a larger voice at Comox Valley council meetings

An unusually dry fall raises concerns about sufficient water supplies next summer

THE WEEK: Let the people have a larger voice at Comox Valley council meetings


If you hear people talking about last month’s local government elections at all, it’s usually about the low voter turnout. Fewer voters turned out this year in every municipality and electoral area, driving the average of votes cast to total eligible voters down to around 27 percent. Even in Cumberland, where the number of registered voters doubled over 2018, fewer people voted.

In the Comox Valley’s three municipalities, 3,970 fewer people voted in 2022 than in 2018. That’s pretty dim considering our population increased over the same four years.

Or think about it this way. If a candidate won a seat on the council with 41 percent of the votes cast by 27 percent of eligible voters, that means they were supported by a mere 11 percent of eligible voters.

This is what passes for a representative democracy? If you’re that candidate, how do you represent the 90 percent of eligible voters who don’t give a damn about you?

This is a malaise affecting most municipalities. But what can the Comox Valley do to interest more people in local government, which arguably has a greater impact on your daily life than anything bubbling out of Victoria or Ottawa?

It’s a complex problem, but there is one simple thing that every local council and board could do that would spark public interest almost overnight.

People don’t vote for many reasons. They don’t think it’s important. They don’t see a direct impact on their lives. They don’t really know what councils are doing. They don’t care who gets elected. Their lives are already busy with jobs and families and there just isn’t enough razz-a-ma-tazz excitement about municipal campaigns to compete with that.

Our local governments fulfill their obligations for public engagement under provincial law, of course. They hold public hearings when it’s required. They invite feedback about specific issues online and at public information sessions. Council meetings are open to the public and streamed live and recorded for viewing at people’s convenience. You can watch them on cable television.

You can watch. But every council makes it difficult for any citizen to stand up and speak directly to the council face-to-face. Think the commercial tax rate is unfair? Think there are too many bike lanes? Think we need another soccer field before we need a pump track, if you even know what that is?

Well, you can’t just go down to city hall and get it off your chest. And if you can’t give the council a piece of your mind in the flesh, maybe you say, “Screw it,” and you give up. You don’t care anymore. You don’t vote.

So, what’s the one thing that could change some people’s attitudes? Allowing open public comment at the beginning of every council meeting.

The Parksville-Qualicum City Council just voted “to improve dialogue and transparency” by adding a 15-minute public question period at the start of every meeting. People can sign up as they come in the door and each person gets two minutes to address the council.

In our experience with council meetings in a variety of U.S. cities, this is the standard. But not in Canada. Parksville is breaking the mold in a good way.

Right now, if you want to speak to the Courtenay City Council, you have to give notice four days in advance. You get to speak for 10 minutes and they limit speakers to three per meeting. You have to fill out a form a week in advance to speak to the Comox Valley Regional District Board.

The Town of Comox does have public comment on its agendas, but you have to wait until the end of the meeting and after any in-camera session, which could take an indeterminate amount of time. By that time, everybody has usually gone home.

Cumberland does its best by allowing delegations to make a written request on the day of the meeting and it also allows a public question period at the end of the meeting. But citizens can only ask questions about items on that day’s agenda and have to email them in ahead of time. The councillors simply respond to the emails. People cannot speak in person to the council.

The Comox Valley’s councils and boards couldn’t make it any more difficult for citizens to speak to their elected representatives. It makes you wonder if they intend to discourage public engagement.

Maybe that’s a little unfair, if you really want to address the council in person you can. But you’ll have to fill out forms, send in written requests up to a week in advance and only about current agenda items, or you have to stay late with the patience of Job.

Why not make it easy, as Parksville has done?

The Town of Comox plans to add two new traffic circles to Comox Avenue as part of the major construction next spring to relocate the main pipe of the Courtenay-Comox sewerage system.

The town will construct one roundabout at the Rodello St. intersection, where that frustrating pedestrian signal light is currently located. They will build a second one about a half-mile away at the Glacier View (Back Road) intersection at the top of Comox Hill. Both have been in the town’s transportation plan since 2011.

This is good news. Roundabouts keep traffic flowing more smoothly than traffic lights provided they are large enough not to slow vehicles down unnecessarily, especially big trucks with wide turning radiuses.

The existing roundabout at Knight Road has a circle diameter of 40 meters. The two new roundabouts will be smaller: Rodello will be 35 meters and Glacier View will be 34.5 meters.

On those numbers alone, it might seem like the town is underbuilding traffic circles on the major artery between Comox and Courtenay. That could cause congestion, especially if one of the semi-tractor trailer trucks gets stuck or has to slow down so much to make the turn that traffic piles up. That could have serious consequences for vehicles climbing Comox Hill in a snowstorm.

But Comox Public Works Manager Craig Perry has confidence that the roundabouts will accommodate even the largest semi-trucks that travel Comox Avenue. He says both roundabouts are being designed by an engineering firm with experience and in accordance with all applicable standards and guidelines.

Although the BC Ministry of Transportation guidelines recommends a circle diameter range of 40 meters to 60 meters to accommodate semi-trucks, the town is meeting the guidelines by reducing the size of the inner circle island to achieve the appropriate turning radius requirements.

Why not just build them larger? Perry says the town has had to work with a large number of limitations, including available property. The town has worked with the firms designing the roundabouts to minimize the land acquisition required. “We are trying to impact neighbouring properties as little as possible,” he told Decafnation.

We noticed a Facebook post by Meaghan Cursons recently. “I do not like skipping autumn. Plus we need this year’s water to fill the lake and flow to the rivers and the salmon. Not snow yet. Snow is next year’s water. We need his year’s water.”

Cursons was spot on and BC Hydro’s data shows just how dry it has been.

Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson says the total precipitation in the upper Comox Lake watershed was 21 percent of normal in August, 16 percent in September and 41 percent in October. November dropped back down to just 23 percent of normal, which should be the wettest month of the year.

A normal November brings about 375 mm of precipitation. As of today, we’re sitting at about 60 mm. While it’s a little rainy this week, more cold, dry weather is expected.

Inflows into Comox Lake during October and November were just 24 percent of normal. Watson says that is the lowest in 55 years on record.

At the Comox Council meeting last week, Coun. Ken Grant took issue with the adoption or rejection of the Code of Conduct policy developed for local governments by the Union of B.C. Municipalities, the province and the Local Government Management Association.

Designed to provide a quasi-authoritative path for local governments to follow in the event of conflicts involving councillors or staff, the code was made optional — sort of — by the province in 2021. The Community Charter now requires municipal governments to either adopt — or provide reasons for not adopting — a code of conduct within six months of their inaugural meeting.

This was deemed necessary after several well-publicized examples of councillors and or staff in various municipalities heatedly airing their differences to the point of distracting councils from conducting business. Work began on the code of conduct in 2017 as a way of cooling down such debates.

“Is there a cost for such a thing?” said Coun. Ken Grant. “I’m not aware of ever having a need for this ever . . . so I’m wondering if (there’s) any value in it.”

Nevertheless, he voted for a motion approving the code. On a secondary motion asking the province to appoint a commissioner to oversee such complaints throughout the province, Coun. Grant again said that he didn’t see the need for a commissioner or a code of conduct.

“I just don’t see the point, frankly,” he said, adding, “I’m sure that they don’t do it for free.”

After some discussion about whether the province or the municipality would be liable for any funding requirements, the council then defeated the motion pending further inquiries by Coun. Jenn Meilleur.

— with reporting by Shane McCune

YAY – Christmas festivities abound at Filberg Park: There are bake sales, seasonal door swags and winter table posies. Santa will visit. The gift shop has longer hours. The main lodge will feature local artists. Every one of these events raises money to support the lodge.

BOO – Isn’t it interesting that the Town of Comox has restored and maintains the heritage home of a lumber baron, Robert Filberg, but wants to tear down and forget about a famous naturalist and ornithologist, Hamilton Mack Laing, who also left his property to the town.

It’s a peek into where our town’s priorities regarding heritage have been and still are considering that a BC Supreme Court Justice is currently reviewing the town’s application to tear down Laing’s home, Shakesides. The court’s decision in this taxpayer-funded $200,000-plus legal action is expected sometime early next year.





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The Week: Comox, Cumberland appointments pass, but no word on Courtenay … yet

The Week: Comox, Cumberland appointments pass, but no word on Courtenay … yet

Photo Caption

The Week: Comox, Cumberland appointments pass, but no word on Courtenay … yet


Sometimes, it’s good to be wrong. Last week, Decafnation predicted that the conservative, pro-development majority on the Comox Council would override Mayor Nicole Minions’ recommendation to appoint re-elected Councillor Dr. Jonathan Kerr to one of the town’s two regional board seats.

And so it appeared, right up until the start of the meeting that the Ken Grant alliance was going to spoil the new mayor’s first official act. But they did not. Instead, they voted in favor of all her regional board and other council appointments.

Grant’s Group might have weighed the risks of wielding their power too soon, especially with about 20 of Kerr’s poll-topping supporters packed into the council chambers. And then there was the negative optics of taking on a first-time, second-ever woman mayor on her first day on the job to consider.

But whatever the group’s true motives were, letting the mayor pick her team was the right thing to do.

We said in our commentary last week that this vote would reveal something about the new council. Is it too much to hope that we’ll have a collaborative local government in Comox this term?

In his inaugural address last night, Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells noted the city’s voters had expressed their approval of the last council’s progress over their four years in office and that public expectations would be even higher for the new and mostly renewed council.

It was especially important, we think, that Wells also recognized that the role of municipal governments has shifted beyond land use, water and sewer, roads and parks and recreation. He said local governments today must also address other issues such as mental health, addiction and affordable housing.

But Wells did not recommend any council appointments to boards and committees because, we are told, some councillors want further discussions with the mayor about their next year’s role. Perhaps more than four councillors want the regional district appointments and Wells doesn’t want to create conflict by letting the seat assignments go to a vote in a public meeting.

But the regional district’s inaugural meeting is next Tuesday, so expect something to get settled before then.

In Cumberland, the Village Council approved new Mayor Vickey Brown’s appointments last night.

Councillor Jesse Ketler was re-appointed to the village’s one regional board seat, Councillor Sean Sullivan will serve as her alternate. Ketler has chaired the Comox Valley Regional District board for the last few years.

Ketler will also serve as the village’s primary representative on the Comox Valley Recreation Commission, while Sullivan will serve on the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District Board and the Comox Strathcona Waste Management Board.

Mayor Brown will take on the Comox Valley Regional District Parks and Trails Committee assignment with new Councillor Troy Therrien serving as her alternate.

You can see Mayor Brown’s full appointment list here.

YAY – To Gladstone Brewing Company for taking top honors at the recent annual BC Beer Awards held in Vancouver. They were named the 2022 Brewery of the Year. They also won four gold awards and one silver for individual types of beers.

YAY – For getting down to the home stretch toward construction of the new Sewer Conveyance Project, which is still on schedule to begin next spring. The CVRD engineering group held its first session in this last round of public information events yesterday at the Little Red Church in Comox. There’s another one there at 4 pm on Thursday of this week, Nov. 10, and a final session at 4.30 pm next Thursday, Nov. 17 at the CVRD offices in Courtenay. There is also a Webinar on Monday, Nov. 14.

BOO – It looks like a rough winter, and we’re not talking about the weather. According to U. S. public health officials, people should brace for a “tripledemic” this year of a resurgence of Covid, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. We’re buying a new supply of face masks.





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