Why all the mystery?

Jacqueline Estabrooks questions the need for so many in-camera meetings at Ladysmith council.

Editor’s Note: This is a letter written to Ladysmith council which was copied to the Chronicle.

Editor:

After reading the letter to the Chronicle from Rob Johnson, I wondered why so many meetings are held in camera.

Surely most of the meetings cannot be about land use? I hope that if they are, any council members involved in the real estate or development business absent themselves to avoid any conflict of interest.

What is the point of inviting the public if they are not allowed to know what is going on or to participate?

Surely you realize this lack of transparency engenders suspicion whether it is warranted or not.

We have a population of around 7,900. Our tax base is eroding. I think it would behoove you to start thinking of ways to increase town revenues other than increasing taxes. Don Harrison came up with a suggestion of an RV park. Has this been looked at seriously?

Please stop spending money (ours!) on items we cannot afford and don’t need, such as the bike lane, trolley and a bus to Duncan. Whatever happened to the business concept of doing a cost/benefit analysis?

Thanks to Paul Williams, I now know that the trolley cost the taxpayers close to $167,000 in 2011. This did not include any allowance for depreciation, housing or the cost of repainting the lines on the sidewalks, etc. Of this, $113,500 was for the salary of the trolley driver. Is this in line with what bus drivers earn in other parts of B.C.?

This $167,000 was offset by a mere $11,000 in fares/donations.

If we are saddled with a bus to Duncan (via Chemainus), the cost will be huge, and for some unknown reason, there will be no opt-out clause in the event of non-use. This means that Ladysmith will be forever subsidizing a Cowichan Valley Regional District  (CVRD) project.

Mr. Mayor, as a member of the CVRD, is there not a conflict of interest in that you are promoting this project, which is of no apparent benefit to the Ladysmith taxpayers?

Ladysmith does not have a never-ending pool of money. I urge you to stop the spending on projects the taxpayers have no say about and to treat every single expenditure with caution as we taxpayers must do with our personal income.

Jacqueline Estabrooks

Ladysmith