About 30-40 people gathered outside Ladysmith City Hall to deliver signed Elector Response Forms March 14. In front are CVRD Area H Director Mary Marcotte (left) and Ladysmith resident Carol Henderson

About 30-40 people gathered outside Ladysmith City Hall to deliver signed Elector Response Forms March 14. In front are CVRD Area H Director Mary Marcotte (left) and Ladysmith resident Carol Henderson

Alternative Approval Process for Couverdon boundary expansion now closed

A group of 30-40 people delivered more than 1,300 signed Elector Response Forms to Ladysmith City Hall March 14.

About 30-40 people showed up at Ladysmith City Hall Friday, March 14 at 2 p.m. to deliver a box full of signed Elector Response Forms before the deadline in the Town’s Alternative Approval Process (AAP) for the Couverdon boundary expansion process.

Mary Marcotte, the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) director for Area H (North Oyster/Diamond), addressed the crowd before going inside City Hall with Ladysmith resident Carol Henderson and a box with more than 1,300 signed forms, which indicate that the eligible elector is opposed to the boundary expansion.

“It is my very great honour to be able present these petitions to the Town of Ladysmith on behalf of the concerned citizens who’ve gone out and campaigned and who have made the democratic process work,” Marcotte said, standing on the steps of City Hall. “It was a real grassroots community agenda here to ensure that we have a say in what happens to the future of Ladysmith. At first, it felt like a real David and Goliath kind of thing, a real midget trying to take on a giant, but I found pretty soon, I had a ton of giants, and they were all standing there beside me working together, and, in fact, they were standing in front of me.

“It’s not something that was driven by anybody. There were concerns, very legitimate concerns, and I think that we’re ensuring that democracy takes its place.”

Ladysmith council has accepted an application from TimberWest/Couverdon Real Estate — the real estate business of TimberWest — to extend the Town of Ladysmith boundary to take in 700 acres (283 hectares) of lands owned by TimberWest/Couverdon. The lands lie to the west of the Town boundary, stretching from north of Grouhel Road to Malone Road, and are undeveloped.

This idea was first introduced to the community in 2008.

Council has three key criteria for its consideration of the proposal:

• Acquisition of approximately 500 acres of watershed lands (both Stocking Lake and Holland lake) to protect the drinking water that supplies the Town, the Diamond and Saltair and the proposed service to Stz’uminus First Nation. These watershed lands are not part of the lands being considered for the boundary extension area; they would be owned by the Town, but would remain outside the Town’s boundaries in CVRD Electoral Area G (Saltair).

• Viewscape protection of the forested hills behind Ladysmith. These lands are not part of the boundary extension area.

• The future development of the boundary extension lands must be consistent with Provincial Smart Growth Practices and supportive of the Town’s Sustainability Vision.

Couverdon’s application was accepted by council Jan. 8, triggering the AAP.

Through the AAP process, if less than 10 per cent of municipal electors submit an Elector Response Form — in Ladysmith’s case, that would be 623 — the boundary extension request will be deemed to have the approval of the electors, and the proposal may proceed to the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development for consideration. If the application does not get elector approval, council will then decide whether to take the question to the Town’s voters in a referendum.

For the purpose of conducting the AAP, the number of electors was calculated as 6,226.