Where are we going?

Citizens of North Cowichan are being invited to attend a variety of meetings in the coming weeks. I wonder if they should bother.

First, there was the open house for a five-year financial plan on Feb. 16. Then the official community plan (OCP) road show gets underway with staff and politicians showing off the draft of a report charting our future. Soon after that will be meetings about building more than 200 homes in Echo Heights Forest in Chemainus.

The torrid pace makes one want to lie down and have a rest. And that might be the best thing to do instead of attending any of these meetings. Because, you see, these are all meetings to tell us: “This is what we are going to do, despite what you said.”

It is worth pointing out that this week marks the fifth anniversary of the infamous “charrette” that was held by North Cowichan to show off, for the first time, its plans to develop Echo Heights. About 80 per cent of residents who attended that meeting objected so strongly that consultants and staff retreated with their collective tails between their legs.

In a matter of a few weeks, the Chemainus Residents Association was born and more than 500 townsfolk took out memberships. Within the year, 1,400 people had signed the petition protesting development of the 52-acre municipal property that has been called “a treasure” by leading botanists and First Nation medicine gatherers.

But the municipality has the audacity to trot out its snazzy new plan to develop Echo Heights – a plan that is amazingly like the first, except for the absence of affordable housing and green building practices. North Cowichan will say the development is integral to its five-year financial plan. It has already told us that revenues earned will pay for the new Chemainus Road bridge (to maneuver around future Halalt blockades?) and a community centre, the need for which is very much up on the air.

At the same time, North Cowichan trots out its long-overdue draft OCP that is littered with words such as “sustainability” and “environmental”. But there is not a shred of evidence to show that these words have any real meaning… and there are no capital costs for stewardship on any balance sheet.

When the municipality brought its maps to ‘consultation’ meetings in Chemainus 15 months ago, residents were resolute in their opposition to any possible use of Creegan Drive as a highway feeder route for new residents of Echo Heights and other areas marked for growth.

The current OCP draft document ignored those two wishes of residents and further tinkered with the OCP in order to continue with long-term plans for developments. Much of the cost for all this, as per usual, will be out of taxpayers’ pockets. How much have your municipal taxes increased since 2004?

The politics of growth has always guided North Cowichan since its founding 138 years ago. But that growth has mostly been relatively slow and ‘organic’. But the last decade has seen poorly-managed growth that has often threatened to spin out of control; look at the Cliffs over Maple Bay, the ironically-named Cowichan Commons or the manner in which Duncan area facilities were forced on Chemainus taxpayers.

I will probably attend some of the upcoming meetings, if only to tell our politicians a good joke that came out of recent events in Egypt.

It seems that President Mubarak answered his door and found one of his underlings wringing his hands in anxiety. “Mr. President,” the man said. “The Egyptian people are saying goodbye to you.” A puzzled Mubarak asked: “Oh, where are they going?”

Mark Kiemele

Chemainus

Just Posted

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

A conceptual rendering of the commercial plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road. (Town of Ladysmith/June 15 Council Agenda)
Rocky Creek commercial plaza passes public hearing

The proposed plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road would bring commercial activity to Ladysmith’s north end

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read