Open letter to Byron Horner, climate change questions he would have asked

Open letter to Byron Horner, climate change questions he would have asked


AAn open letter to Byron Horner, conservative candidate in 2019 for Courtenay-Alberni:

I like the “balanced approach” slogan on your campaign posters. However, I find this difficult to reconcile with the way the Conservative Party in Canada has positioned itself in the 21st century. Are you in the vanguard of a dramatic change, in which the Conservative Party is rediscovering an obligation to society as a whole? Or are you in the vanguard of some new public relations spin?

Andrew Scheer was a cabinet minister in the highly “unbalanced” Harper government and he gave no indication that he would be taking the Conservative Party in a new direction when he became party leader. In fact, he has actively sought Harper’s support in the 2019 election. Are there any signs that a new direction has been called for by Harper himself? That question can be answered with three letters: IDU. The International Democratic Union is an organization fanatically devoted to getting right-wing governments elected worldwide and it seems to have been the source of the robocall technique that helped Canadian Conservatives win a majority government in 2011. Steven Harper is currently the chairman of the IDU! No mellowing in old age going on for him.

A commitment to balance will require a degree of progressivism to be reintroduced into conservative ideology. Is the Conservative Party willing to change with changing circumstances, or will it simply entrench itself as the party of a failing status quo? Can the Conservative party support the transition to a steady-state economy in which human beings live sustainably, or will it continue to support a “growth” economy which booms as long as resources are abundant and pollution is discounted and then grinds to a halt when lack of planning catches up to it?

In regard to climate change, the issue identified by voters as being the most important in 2019, it is increasingly difficult to believe that the Conservative Party supports a balanced approach. I wonder if you would defend these recent developments:

The refusal to acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis by all Conservative MPs, despite the 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saying that CO2 emissions have to fall by 45 percent within 12 years to reach Paris Agreement goals by 2050.

Jason Kenney’s taxpayer-funded war room to attack the “lies” of environmentalists (and presumably climate scientists) with the “truth” provided by oil and gas industry insiders.

The attack on the carbon tax by Scheer, Kenney, and Doug Ford as a tax grab that takes money out of people’s pockets despite the provision (which is never mentioned) to give the money back.

The Conservative long-time-in-coming climate plan calling for replacement of the tried and tested carbon tax with a vague system of fines for polluting companies which lacks specifics on targets and timelines. (One critic has said “it is like a carbon tax, with the added goal of ineffectuality”.)

The Conservative climate plan’s faith in carbon capture technology which, in its most feasible form, will simply lower the rate of pollution rather than taking CO2 out of the air. (In any case, the more CO2 that is captured the greater the problem of storing it underground and monitoring it indefinitely for leaks. What could possibly go wrong?)

Scheer’s unqualified support for 150 pipeline supporters in the United We Roll demonstration in Ottawa, which featured speeches about “cutting off the head of the snake” and “rolling over every Liberal in the country”. (By contrast, Scheer failed to support the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who demonstrated for climate action on September 27th.)

I got the idea to write this letter when I attended the all-candidates climate meeting in Courtenay on October 4th. It was well attended by citizens concerned about the climate crisis who will make up more than two thirds of your constituents should you be elected as the Courtenay-Alberni MP. My letter expands on the question I would have asked if you had seen fit to be at the meeting.

David Anson is a Courtenay resident



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Project Watershed needs your help to acquire and restore sawmill site

Project Watershed needs your help to acquire and restore sawmill site

Dear Residents of the Comox Valley,

You may have heard of Project Watershed. We exist to promote community stewardship of Comox Valley Watersheds through education, information, and action. And action we are taking!

We recently hosted a fundraising launch event for the purchase and restoration of the old Fields Sawmill site by the 17th Street Bridge in Courtenay. Thank you to those donors who have started us off with approximately $50,000!

This project is called Kus-kus-sum by the K’ómoks First Nation, as the area was the final resting place of K’ómoks ancestors. With the KFN as our partner, we intend to recreate a natural estuary conservation area there. It will be a beautiful natural site for all to enjoy. Watch Transforming Field Sawmill to Kus-kus-sum video.

The total cost to purchase and restore the site is $6.5 million, over the next two years. We need to raise $500,000 from the Comox Valley community, $100,000 of which by December 20th, 2017. We will be writing grants to all levels of governments, as well as local, international, national, corporate and other private donors. We need your help to make this eco-liability into an eco-asset. Watch Kus-kus-sum Promotional Video.

For more information about the Kus-kus-sum project visit our website.

Join Project Watershed and the K’ómoks First Nation in acquiring and restoring Kus-kus-sum.

You can:
SPONSOR – You can make general donations of any amount, automatically recurring monthly donations, and legacy gifts. We can even accept securities through our Canada Helps link. DONATE NOW. A visual conception of the future site shows levels of general habitat types, which you can sponsor for $100 to $1000 at Local artworks are given for donations at or over $25, $100, $250, $500 and $1,000 – you will be asked to select one of over a dozen artworks after your donation has been completed. To view the artworks in advance click here.

VOLUNTEER – We need help spreading the word, collecting sponsorships, running events etc. An easy way to help is to SHARE videos, stories etc. on social media. We are using the hashtags #kuskussum and #keepingitliving. Join our team! Email: to volunteer.

HOST – Gather a group of your friends, teammates, business affiliates who will donate to our cause and we will give your group a private talk about Kus-kus-sum – its history and plans for its future. Email: to set something up.

As Chair of the volunteer Board of Directors, I am reaching out to all residents of the beautiful Comox Valley for assistance in raising those funds. Donors will receive a tax receipt for donations $25 and up, as Project Watershed is a registered charitable organization. As per our Keeping It Living donor program, you’ll be given your choice of estuary art, as well. There will be public recognition of donors on the restored site upon completion.

We hope that you will be able to contribute to the Kus-kus-sum project. This is an important collaborative project that will benefit our entire community and we look forward to your support. If you have any questions, we will be happy to answer them for you.


Paul Horgen,
Board Chair Comox Valley Project Watershed Society


Imagine a sewer pump station with a homey feel

What would the City of Courtenay and the Town of Comox do if they didn’t have a convenient ocean to dump their contaminated sewage into?

Imagine, a homey feel at the Courtenay Air Park Treatment Plant (CAPTP). A place suitable to host wedding receptions and city galas.

All the pipes are in place to have the sewage flow down hill to this site. Thousands of cubic meters of fresh recycled water to water city boulevards, farm land and local lawns ending watering restrictions. Attach a bio-gas plant and bingo thousands of yards of clean soil for local farms and gardens after the natural gas has been captured and piped into Fortis main line to heat our homes and even power the local bus line.

How to pay for this? By using recycled water to irrigate lawns, wash cars and flush toilets, the demand for purified drinking water would drop by 80 percent. The proposed $70 million water purification plant could be dropped to $20 million, giving $50 million to CAPTP. The $90 million for the South Courtenay sewer project could go into CAPTP. The $35 million plus, not spent on trying to fix up the nine kilometers of pipes and pump stations pushing the sewage out to sea.

And then there is the future. Numbers like $200 million to replace the decaying 40-year-old Brent road so- called treatment plant and then there is the issue of replacing the existing pipeline running along the foreshore of Dyke Road. The only option is to go over land making the new high pressure pump station and pipe line through Croteau Beach redundant.

Add it up and it looks like over the next two decades water and water treatment will cost the tax payer something like $350 million. Prices always go up. Doing a proper job now will cost less than in the future and why not get in on some of that federal infrastructure money being offered by the guy with good hair?

I don’t think the people of the valley want to hold their heads in shame by comparing the dark age technology used in Victoria to treat their sewage even if it does look homey. I feel sick when I think of the quagmire of future costs that CVRD senior engineer Mark Rutten is leading the sewer commissioners into … just because we have a convenient ocean near by.



Doctors link flu outbreak to sewage leaks in estuary

Re: Current outbreak of flu potentially linked to leaky force mains in estuary

News Reports in the Vancouver Island media suggest a serious stomach flu this winter caused by the norovirus has been linked to eating raw or poorly cooked oysters. Oysters are one of the hardest working animals in the ocean. An adult oyster is capable of filtering 25-50 gallons of water a day which could concentrate the virus particles.

TV reports suggest that seniors have been hit especially hard with these symptoms this year. On its website, the Public Health Agency of Canada suggests that raw sewage is one of the sources of the spread of the virus.

Those of us who live in the Comox Valley should be particularly concerned about these observations. Our estuary and Baines Sound are important to our local economy and are one of the prime oyster growing areas in the world. Despite this, our local Sewage Commission continues to support and maintain leaky force mains in the foreshore and is suggesting the construction of a large sewage pump station in Beech Street, an area that is not serviced by sewer. This would be unfair to affected residents and would create significant risks for wells and aquifers in the area, which is close to the sensitive ecosystem of the Goose Spit.

These environmental, health, and safety issues could easily be avoided by moving the sewage infrastructure overland. This would involve upgrading the ageing Courtenay pump station (see CVRD engineer comments in recent media)and force main rather than pursuing an unnecessary and stop-gap measure in Beech Street. This approach would also be cost-effective. Specifically, an analysis has determined that it would save taxpayers between seven and twelve million dollars over the current proposal.

Is it not time to get all force mains out of our coastal waters and on land?

Yours sincerely,

DR. PAUL HORGEN, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto (retired microbiologist)

cc. Charmain Enns Medical officer

Shakesides adviser releases letter sent to Mayor Ives

May 4, 2016

Town of Comox Office of the Mayor

1809 Beaufort Avenue Comox, B.C., V9M 1R9

Attention Paul Ives, Q.C.

Dear Sir,

Re: Mack Laing Nature House Advisory Committee – Terms of Reference (TOR)

As our Committee rather abruptly concluded its meetings on Friday and they have previously agreed that email discussions are not acceptable I’m left with some outstanding questions and no one to talk to.

So I thought I would write you a note that you can (if appropriate) help me with. I’m not confident that we have satisfied the Terms of Reference that you assigned us. I am also left wondering if we perhaps strayed from the intent of the TOR as my construction expertise was rarely called on. Our chairman will be circulating his draft report to council for us to review at or just before our May 13 meeting to discuss it. As time is of the essence perhaps after your review of our April 29, 2016 meeting minutes you may wish to redirect our focus and put us back to work on the TOR.

In brief, here is where I feel we came up short:

1. Goals: a. We did not review in depth the potential of converting the existing Mack Laing House into a natural history museum. The SWOT process looked at it from a high level but did not look at it in detail. The fear of most committee members of operating and capital costs caused them to dismiss the possibility without drilling deeper into your request to examine its potential. b. I prepared a list of heritage funding organizations from an easily accessible website and then supplemented that list with private funding methods. Your second goal of the TOR (fundraising opportunities) was never raised and discussed to any extent at a meeting. So I have to conclude we have not properly achieved that goal.

2. Deliverables: a. We did not discuss or develop an action plan that would be submitted to council for potential implementation. We did come up with four options that underwent a SWOT process. During the SWOT we discussed three options related to the preservation of the house and a fourth option that did not include the house. Last week we voted that the third option Virtual Museum was the preferred option. Although I fail to see how that option applies to your TOR as a committee member I have to accept the majority 1 opinion. Discussion has ended. An action plan is still required to implement this option. That has not been completed.

3. Scope/Jurisdiction: a. As an advisory body we have not discussed (documented) how the preferred goal (or for that matter any of the options) could be met with the limited financial resources that are available. This circles us back to your second goal of identifying funding. I believe as a committee we should produce a business plan with timetable attached for each of our preferred options. That plan may bring clarity to the feasibility of the options as well as their weighted acceptability with respect to Mack Laing’s will and Trust.

In summary, I would appreciate your thoughts on the above items. I have truly enjoyed the project and as stated at our first committee meeting, I’m there to help as required and I remain so.



CVRD engineer made a shameful statement

This letter represents the concerns of over 60 households who signed a petition against the proposed Beech Street Sewage Pump Station.

We have expressed many times the serious health, safety, and fairness issues the sewage station would create. We now want to bring to your attention the democratic deficit represented by a shameful statement made recently by Kris LaRose of the Comox Valley Regional District. When Courtenay director Erik Eriksson asked why the neighbourhood directly affected by the station has no say regarding the issue, Mr. Larose said “Permission on behalf of the residents is not required for determining the alignment of the forcemain.” (Comox Valley Echo, February 24)

It has taken several years for the CVRD to reveal its approach to democracy. It has finally done so, via an audacious admission that when it makes important decisions involving taxpayers’ dollars, “permission on behalf of residents is not required”.

Mr. LaRose and members of the CVRD, we wish to remind you that the foundation of democracy is consultation with, and permission from, voters.

We have asked the CVRD over and over for proof that our safety and our wells would not be compromised. We have asked the CVRD over and over for an justification as to why those who would be affected by the sewage pump station have no say in where it is located. We have asked the CVRD over and over for an assessment of the impact of the station on people in the area, including children, the elderly, and individuals who are ill. The CVRD has not provided us with any of this information, and now we know why: it is because it believes it can act unilaterally, without considering how its decisions affect the people of the Comox Valley.

This democratic deficit extends to the other two levels of government. We have written to the federal Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, regarding the recently announced Goose Spit sewage line but have not received a reply, despite following up in writing. We have also written to the provincial Minister of Health, Terry Lake, regarding the risks to our wells but he also has not replied to our letter or to correspondence asking for an update.

If the conduct of federal, provincial, and municipal officials on this issue reflects their approach to other matters, we should all be greatly concerned.