The North Pender Conundrum

This is the first in a series of articles dissecting the RAR Community Information meeting held April 28, 2011.

For months now we have been told by the contract planner tasked with preparing and authoring the proposed Riparian Area bylaw for Salt Spring, that we must “meet or beat” the Riparian Area Regulation requirements. To that end, we have been told that every ditch, which is connected by surface flow, whether it contains water or not, must be included within the new Riparian Assessment Area. In other words, highways ditches within the Ministry of Environment Riparian Area Watersheds (“MoE RAW”) (identified by the Ministry of Environment and a group of students from the University of BC – and the subject of my next post) are to be declared “streams” under the proposed definition of “streams” in the proposed bylaw.

The public has been told in no uncertain terms the Local Trust Committee “doesn’t have a choice” – it must comply with the RAR.

Enter the North Pender Conundrum.

Unlike the approach taken by the contract planner on Salt Spring, the Islands Trust planner and LTC on North Pender have taken a different stand. Having applied for, and received funding from the Islands Trust Council to obtain accurate mapping (approximately $10,000, 40% of which was paid for by Salt Spring taxpayers) from Madrone Enviromental Services (see full report at http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/np/pdf/nprarstreamrpt.pdf ), Trust staff in Victoria then prepared mapping which reduced the MoE RAW, which covered a good portion of North Pender, down to three major stream and lake areas, and one wetland. A 4 page bylaw was prepared and attached to the simplified mapping, North Pender LTC gave it 1st, 2nd and 3rd readings, and, on April 19th approval was given by the Islands Trust Executive.

The conundrum? The mapping and bylaw, approved by staff, the LTC and the Islands Trust Executive, does not protect “ditches” as defined in the RAR.

This completely blows apart any contention from Islands Trust staff, the contract planner or the Salt Spring Trustees that we don’t have a choice, and, “must protect ditches” as defined in the RAR.

I brought the conundrum up at the Community Information Meeting, and not a single staff member or Trustee had an intelligent and/or informed response to it.

Amazingly, Trustee Peter Luckham of Thetis Island, who chaired the meeting, and, who is one of the four Islands Trust Executive Committee Vice-Chairs who had passed the North Pender bylaw last week, also could not give a response. Evidently the Trust Executive hadn’t given the question a moment’s thought before approving it. So much for “having to comply” with RAR definitions.

As I have been saying for awhile not, it is now crystal clear the public is being misled on a number of issues, not the least of which is the “necessity” to blanket 60% of Salt Spring with a development permit area.

It is not good enough to simply ignore the North Pender Conundrum as if it does not exist. Trustees and staff need to provide the public with a clear response to it before making one more public statement about how wonderful, unobtrusive and convenient they “hope” the proposed bylaw will be for property owners within the proposed DP area.

Next post – “Accuracy? We Don’t Need No Stinking Accuracy”

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Truth or Consequence?

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. – Galileo

Ignoring the real question, and pointing in an irrelevant direction, appears to be Ms. Adam’s defense to my opinion Salt Spring is already in compliance with the Fish Protection Act, and therefore the Riparian Area Regulation. (see http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_south/saltspringislanddriftwood/opinion/letters/120786554.html )

At least she has now admitted she was wrong as to when the RAR was enacted. However, what she still does not evidently understand is that when a policy directive from the Province is “enacted” it means it is effectively “implemented” immediately, and, sets a compliance date by which local governments must comply with the directive.

Thus, when she responded today that the RAR was “implemented in 2006” she is once again wrong.

Further, there are two ways local governments can comply with a policy directive under the Fish Protection Act (FPA). While my opinion (see https://islandstrust.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/rar-opinion-april-71.pdf ) clearly details the how and why, Ms. Adams has clearly chosen to completely ignore the following legislation:

From the FPA: “12 (4) If a policy directive…applies, a local government must (a) include in its zoning and rural land use bylaws riparian area protection provisions in accordance with the directive, or (b) ensure that its bylaws and permits under Part 26 of the Municipal Act…provide a level of protection that, in the opinion of the local government, is comparable to…that established by the directive.”

Perhaps Ms. Adams does not understand what the word “or” between subsections (a) and (b) means.

Or, perhaps she doesn’t understand what the term “in the opinion of the local government” means.

Or perhaps she doesn’t understand what “a level of protection…comparable to that established by the directive” means.

Or, maybe she doesn’t want to try and understand what Section 12 in its entirety means, because then, whether she liked it or not, she would have to agree with me.

The 2008 letter from Ms. Marlene Caskey, MoE, which Ms. Adams referred to this week, did not, and does not, in any manner, address the provisions of Section 12. Nor does it address the Transitional provisions of Section 8 of the RAR. All the letter said was that in Ms. Caskey’s opinion, Salt Spring had not yet implemented RAR.

Ms. Caskey did not, then, or at anytime after, offer an opinion on whether the Salt Spring LTC may be compliant because of Section 12. She has never asked myself or former Trustee Lineger what our opinion was in 2005. Nor does she have the authority to deem whether a local government’s opinion is valid or not. That is a task, at best, for the Attorney General’s office, and, I can assure you no such determination has ever been made, let alone even considered.

Section 12 allows a local government flexibility. Read it again until you understand it. The Province, in including Section 12, made the conscious decision to allow a local government to form a flexible independent opinion. That opinion, once formed, cannot be arbitrarily questioned or overturned by MoE or Islands Trust bureaucrats.

It could however be questioned in a court of law. But, what would be the allegation? That the opinion formed by the local government was not “reasonable?”

How would one go about trying to prove that case, and how would it play out in the media?

In an email to me, Ms. Stacey Wilkerson, Habitat Management, the branch of the MoE in charge of the Riparian Area Regulation, believes there “must be a rational basis for the local government to conclude that its bylaws and permits provide a level of protection for riparian areas that is comparable to…that established by the directive.”

I wholeheartedly agree. And, on March 7, 2005, in both myself and Trustee Lineger’s opinion, there was a rational basis to conclude that our bylaws and permits provided a comparable level of protection. I have, in detail, provided that rationale to the Trust. Read it until you understand it.

Why Ms. Adams consistently fails to (a) understand the relevant legislation, (b) understand how the legislation allowed us to form our opinion, and (c) understand how that opinion, once formed, enabled the SSI LTC in 2005 to be in compliance with the Fish Protection Act, remains a mystery to me.

Another mystery is why Ms. Adams is speaking out on behalf of the local government. She is not a locally elected politician. She is not a member of the local government. The Islands Trust is not a local government under the FPA, the Local Trust Committee is. She has no authority in this matter, and, her opinion has no sway or say over what Trustee Lineger and I thought in 2005.

However, for a Chief Administrative Officer of a government agency, to continue to evade a question which is extremely relevant to the public’s opinion forming process, during the amendment to our OCP, is misleading, disingenuous and, could very easily form the basis for a court challenge in the future.

I once again challenge her to provide an opinion, legal or otherwise, which rationally contradicts the actual content of my claim. Until she does so, I will continue to alert the public that they are being grossly misled during a public process which statutorily requires the public to be properly informed.

I also challenge any of our three trustees to do the right thing and request a legal opinion to refute my claim. It is entirely within their right, ability and power to do so. All they have to do is ask.

How on earth could they possibly pass up an opportunity to try and prove me wrong?

Then again, perhaps the question they are asking themselves is this  “Why would we potentially want to prove Booth right, if it will interfere with our current agenda of blanketing the majority of the island in a development permit area?”

C’mon Ms. Adams. Give us a real argument, instead of thinly veiled misdirection, because frankly we’re tired of cheap tricks and deceptions.

Why Wake Up Now?

Why Wake Up Now? (Islands Independent Article)

Are you a property owner on Salt Spring within the protective area being proposed for 60% of the island?  If you are, do you have a highways ditch in front of, or, a drainage ditch or a stream running through your property? Do you know how to use a 100 foot measuring tape? I suggest you may wish to know the answers to those questions, in that order, and sooner than later.

Why? The Islands Trust has just approved the draft of a new law that may reduce your property values, cost you money the next time you want to do something, and further limit the use of your property, well beyond the existing regulations.

In my experienced opinion, as a former Islands Trustee, the proposed new law is legally unnecessary. On April 7th, I submitted a detailed explanation to the Trustees and Local Trust Committee, as to why it is unnecessary, but have yet to receive a response.

Meanwhile, the existing streamside protection mapping in our Official Community Plan (OCP) is inaccurate, a fact well known by Trust staff and publicly admitted to by Ms. Kathy Reimer, Executive Director of the Island Stream and Salmon Enhancement Society, who helped provide the un-ground truthed, “never meant to be exact” fish habitat mapping back in the late 1990’s.

Is that inaccurate mapping going to be corrected? Nope. The new modifications actually yadd to the inaccuracies.

The additional “blanket mapping” being proposed for 60% of the island, is also inaccurate.

And yet, the new Director of Local Planning Services, David Marlor, with 16 years of experience as an Islands Trust Planner, recommends what kind of riparian mapping? “Accurate mapping.” So, why hasn’t accurate mapping been conducted?

The misleading “reason,” which the Trustees and Trust staff have been telling the public for months, is that the costs to accurately map Salt Spring streams are “impossible.” However, when asked how much accurate mapping would actually cost, staff and Trustees have simply guesstimated, and have given the following five answers to date – “I don’t know,” “$75,000,” “over a hundred thousand dollars,” $125,000,” “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Take your pick, but apart from the “I don’t know” answer, they are all wrong.

The real estimate is less than $46,000 (before HST). How do I happen to know? I took the 5 minutes necessary to send an email request for a detailed quote from Madrone Environmental Services, the same company that did the “accurate” mapping of North and South Pender and Saturna for the Trust.

Adding further insult to injury for Salt Spring taxpayers, since SSI contributes 40% of the annual Trust tax revenue, we have already subsidized the “accurate” riparian mapping done on other islands. Using the same mathematical skill set, it means the actual cost to SSI taxpayers to get $46,000 of mapping would be approximately, $18,400, hardly what one could call “impossible.”

In fact, it is less than the increase in remuneration for SSI Trustees just passed by Trust Council, and I don’t remember anyone at that table suggesting it was anything resembling “impossible.”

It is extremely apparent the public is being misled during the public process of amending our OCP.

Meanwhile, back to your measuring tape. Stretch it out, or count off 30 paces, from the edge of those ditches and/or streams on, or near, your property. If you find you are going to be affected, plan on attending the last two meetings on the new, proposed riparian law. Keep informed, and don’t be afraid to express your opinion. While it’s your right to defend your rights, don’t expect someone else to do it for you.

It’s time to read up and wake up.

Eric Booth

Former Islands Trustee (2002-2005)

 

The Myth of RAR Phosphorous Reduction

Will the new proposed riparian law effectively protect lakes from phosphorous?

Much of the support for the proposed new riparian law on Salt Spring comes from watershed groups – Cusheon Lake Stewardship Committee, St. Mary Lake Stewardship Committee, and the Salt Spring Water Preservation Society.

Their contentions, that the new regulations will greatly improve and protect drinking water quality sound entirely reasonable, until you actually take the time to understand the issue and the proposed law in its entirety.

Let’s start at the beginning – now.

1.The existing land use bylaw provides for a 60 metre setback for septic fields from lakes and waterbodies entering lakes. The proposed law actually reduces the setback from 61 metres to 60 metres. Therefore the new law provides less protection from phosphorous from septic fields than the existing law.

2. The existing, and enforced, law requires landowners within the development permit area to hire a Qualified Environmental Professional to conduct a Riparian Area Assessment (to assess the area in question). The new law does not change that.

3. The existing development permit area is 10 metres from the natural boundary of major streams on the island. The new regulation expands the Riparian Assessment Area from 10 metres to 30 metres. But, will it actually expand the protection, or, will it just expand the number of people and property affected by the regulation?

I asked Ms. Michele Jones, RPBio, QEP, (and, the only QEP qualified in BC to teach professionals about the RAR) what the rule of thumb was under the new regulations as to the width of the “Streamside Protection Area” (SPEA) one could expect to have established by a QEP.

According to her, the rule of thumb is this – in the case of a stream – the SPEA will likely be 3 times the stream width, with a minimum of 10 metres. In the case of a ditch, the SPEA – 2 – 5 metres. Working backwards mathematically I suggested to her that since the vast majority of streams on the island are less than 3 metres (10 feet), then the vast majority of SPEA’s will be 10 metres. She agreed with me.

So,  the existing 10 metre riparian assessment areas (DPA 4) already protect the vast majority of streams on the island, to the maximum extent likely under the proposed new bylaw.

The result is the vast majority of designated SPEA’s in the future will be no more and no less than under the existing regulations.

Thus, there will NOT be any significant net reduction of phosphorous as a result of the new regulations…just more regulations unnecessarily and negatively affecting more people monetarily.

4. Now, let’s take a look at what and who aren’t required to conform to the new regulations.

(a) If you are a farmer, currently you can “disturb vegetation” within 10 feet of a major stream. As an example, you are allowed to plow up 20 acres on an annual basis, releasing additional phosphorus into drinking water lakes. Under the new regulation, nothing really changes for farmers. No net reduction of phosphorous.

(b) If you want to open a gravel pit or quarry, you can, as long as you meet the Mines Act regulations. As an example, you could start an open mine 10 acres in the new Development Permit 4 area, and the regulations won’t apply to your mine or gravel pit. No net reduction of phosphorous.

(c) If you want to log your property on land classified as managed forest land under the Private Managed Forest Land Act, or, under the Forest and Range Practices Act, you will be allowed to do so. In other words, the regulation does not stop commercial logging, including clear cuts. No net reduction of phosphorous.

(d) The Ministry of Transportation (the Crown) is not required to apply for a development permit for either cleaning their ditches or clear cutting their boulevards in front of your property. This singular exception makes a mockery out of the new regulation from the point of view of ordinary citizens who will have to comply. No net reduction of phosphorous.

Try doing the math on how much area is “disturbed”: each year by ditch cleaning. Here’s the formula:

“x” miles of road times say 1.5 ditches X 6′ of bare soil  = “y” acres of disturbed soil.

This works out to 31,680 square feet (0 .72 acres) of disturbed soil per mile of road. That’s the equivalent of the footprint of likely 15 new houses per mile. And, unlike most instances where land surrounding a new house site will help filter out sediment from the excavation, there is no doubt that sediment from newly cleaned ditches will end up where? Oh….into the lakes and streams, because strangely enough, that’s what ditches are for.

Further, ditch scouring will continue on a regular 3-7 year cycle, while any improvement made to a property is usually made once in a 50-100 year cycle.

Adding insult to injury, those very same highway ditches, if they happen to run in front of your house, represent a “stream” under the new proposed definition of a “stream.” So, in spite of the fact that Highways can scour the ditch clean, and cut down any tree, bush or other vegetation with impunity on its boulevard, YOU will be required to hire a QEP to determine the size of the SPEA on your property, measured from the edge of that very ditch.

For example – If you want to cut down a tree at the edge of your property line, within 30 metres of the highways ditch, you will need to (a) hire a QEP, (b) apply for a permit.  And, you may not be given permission to cut it down, in spite of the fact the Ministry of Highways can clearcut to your property line. Are you starting to get the picture yet?

Conclusion? – No Significant Net Reduction in Phosphorous

So, tell me, where are the big savings in phosphorous loading? The vast majority of SPEAs will remain the same – no savings there. The farmers will continue to be allowed to plow their fields – no savings there. Large scale logging can continue – no savings there. Highways will continue to scour their ditches and remove vegetation and trees on their rights of way– no savings there. The setbacks for septic fields from drinking water lakes will be slightly less – no savings there.

The ONLY savings will be minuscule at best, and foisted on the average property owner who wants to improve their property at great time and , expense.

The proposed regulation effectively does nothing more to protect drinking lake watersheds from phosphorous loading, than the existing regulations. The primary difference is monetary. The average person will have to pay for a QEP’s report in virtually every case ($1-2,000), a development permit in many cases (minimum $1,000+ and time spent), and, in many cases, establish SPEA’s on areas of their property which are totally unnecessary and do not create any more protection for “fish habitat,” or from phosphorous loading.

The Trustees have cleverly crafted a law, not to protect “fish habitat” as the RAR is intended to do, (which was, in my opinion, already been done in 1998) but, an unnecessary and ineffective law which will do nothing more than make the average taxpayer’s life on Salt Spring more expensive, cluttered and miserable through regulation.

Cui Bono?

“Cui bono” was a question used in debate in the Roman Senate. Translated it means “to whose benefit?” It cuts to the core of many proposed laws. Who is it that really benefits when a government creates a new regulation? A good qualifying question would be, “Well, who is going to cash the checks?”

So, who will cash the cheques if this new law goes through? Qualified Environmental Professionals (biologists), Islands Trust staff members (job security), Ministry of Environment biologists, Department of Fisheries inspectors, BC Surveyors,  etc..

And, who will get to write those cheques? You, the taxpayer and land owners of Salt Spring will.

And, who will believe they are winners? All the well intentioned, but misguided, preservationists who evidently can’t, or won’t, understand the ramifications of what is actually being proposed.

Don’t Be Afraid, Express Your Opinion

I urge you to express your opinions on this matter to the LTC while you still can, because the Public Hearing on this matter will be here in the blink of an eye. After that, many of you can plan on getting out your cheque book.

Confess Now All Ye Sinners

When I first came out of the closet (see – https://islandstrust.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/its-a-cold-earth-day/ )  I made an analogy between members of the Catholic Church and Anthropogenic Global Warming Believers.

Little did I know that just a week or so later, an online “confession booth” would be set up in time for Easter, and not for Catholics, but, for AGW Believers, to confess their “earthly” sins.

The following is a screen snapshot of the booth (no relation) at http://www.earthconfessions.com/#home (click to enlarge)

The “directions” are “Confess your sins against Earth and swear off your evil eco ways forever.”

After entering the booth, here is the next screen (click to enlarge):

Can’t think of an eco-sin to confess to? Here are their “generated sin” suggestions:

I love horsepower more than I love the environment.

I want to clip bike commuters who slow down traffic with my side mirrors.

I fill my recycle garbage can full of trash and then put a layer of cardboard on the top to hide it.

I drink bottled water because it makes me feel fancy.

I use plastic grocery bags because paper sucks and bringing my own cloth bags sucks even worse.

I think hybrid cars are for wussies.

I dress my passenger seat in a jacket and hat and then use the carpool lane.

I justify eating watermelon all year long by telling myself it’s always in season somewhere in the world.

I refuse to read that new book or watch that new documentary about how jacked up our food supply is because I don’t want to know.

I think littering is ok as long as it’s something small.

I don’t buy organic because that shit’s expensive.

I don’t buy recycled paper because it seems dirty.

I secretly like to hear reports that global warming isn’t real because it decreases my guilt level.

I pretend to not know what a carbon footprint is.

I don’t have a compost pile because it grosses me out.

Really, what’s next? Pope Al Gore the first?

Followed perhaps by the AGW Spin-ish Inquisition?

Nobody expects the AGW Spin-ish Inquisition…

The Mythical RAR “Ease Factors”

Islands Trust Staff and Trustees have spoken about the possibility of Trust Staff, in the future, being able to come out and give an opinion on the new law as it may apply to your property, to “ease” the burden of regulations they are proposing. Nothing has been formally done yet, and, the Trustees are not waiting to crystallize such hopeful statements before effectively passing the new law.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

However, I submit these “ease factors” will never happen in real life.

Liability of Unqualified Opinions

The liability and legal ramifications of unqualified, or, for that matter, qualified, Islands Trust staff members giving an opinion, on matters which only professional biologists, engineers, surveyors, etc. are qualified to submit opinions, will not be allowed to occur by the Victoria Trust Office. Why? Because if a staff member gives inaccurate advice, the Trust can be held liable. Currently it is hard enough trying to get them to interpret the existing bylaws.

Allow me to share a relevant personal experience which underlines my opinion. In July, 2009, I met with three staff members – a planner, a Regional Planning Manager, and the Director of Local Planning Services. The two senior staff members agreed with the planner, who had, for the previous two years, agreed with me that an existing, manmade pond on my property, was not a “water body” as defined by the bylaw. To be clear, all three agreed the pond was not a “water body” according to the definition in the bylaw. In addition, and in support of their opinion,  two staff members of the Ministry of Environment had previously concluded the pond and associated ditching were clearly manmade, were not replacements for a natural watercourse, and were not considered “streams” under the Water Act.

In spite of five government employees’ opinions, the two senior Islands Trust staff members were not prepared to take on the responsibility of officially confirming their decision in writing. The result was the Director of Local Planning Services gave direction to the Regional Planning Manager to hire an independent consulting company, at a cost of several thousand dollars to the taxpayers,  to “peer review” what the three Trust employees, and two Ministry staff members, already believed to be true. The consultant’s conclusion? He agreed with all of them – the pond was not a “water body” as defined in the bylaw. Six people.

Does anyone really believe Islands Trust staff, who can’t even accept responsibility for interpreting a simple definition ( agreed upon by the collective opinion of three Trust staff members and two Ministry of Environment staff members)  is prepared to determine, on a regular and standard basis, whether a ditch or watercourse is a fish-bearing stream, or a non-fish bearing stream, or just a ditch, or a creek?

CYA

We are living in the age of CYA (Cover Your Ass). No one wants to take on any more liability than necessary. The Trust’s head legal counsel, Bill Bulholzer,  gives this rather poignant advice to local governments:

“Perhaps the greatest risk of negligence liability in relation to land-use regulation in terms of sheer number of opportunities to perform negligent acts lies in the provision to members of the public of the information (“representations”) on the content and effect of regulations that affect them.

Generally such inquiries are made at the time the purchase of real property is being considered, in circumstances where it is reasonable for the land-use authority to expect that the person requesting the information will rely upon it in determining whether to complete the transaction, and perhaps in fixing on the purchase price…Local governments are under no duty to interpret the regulations for members of the public or express opinions as to their effect in particular circumstances.  In other words, a legally appropriate response to (an) inquiry letter (from a potential purchaser’s solicitor or notary) would be to invite the solicitor or notary to attend at the municipal hall and examined for themselves the bylaws and documents that are relevant to the property.In some jurisdictions, for example, staff responding to inquiries at the planning department counter are not permitted to interpret the zoning map by giving the zoning designation for particular address, but must simply point the inquirer to the appropriate part of the map and let them draw their own conclusions.  This practice illustrates nicely the point that risk management is always balanced with providing a level of service to the public; the risk of negligence liability can be reduced to zero by providing no service at all.”

Zero service = Zero liability.

Projected Staff Time?

So, do you really think that every time someone within the proposed DPA4 area (60% of the island) wants to sell their property, or potentially purchase a property, an Islands Trust staff member is going to come out for a visit, with tape measure in hand, and provide written certainty, good for all time, on whether the property will be affected by the new regulation? Try getting a simple answer from Trust staff on existing zoning related matters now. In some cases you have to wait a couple of weeks just to speak to a staff member.

The Trust didn’t have staff time available for the timely processing of the Brinkworthy and Slegg Lumber rezoning applications, both of which had been waiting for over a year to process. Are the Trustees proposing those waits will grow longer, in order to try and appease opponents of their proposed new riparian law by promising low, low, low fees and fast, fast, fast attention to answering questions regarding the application of the new law on several thousand property owners? Not likely, and more to the point, not believable.

It simply will not happen, and, even if it did, the cost in staff time to taxpayers would be enormous. There are, at any given time, approximately 300 properties for sale in the proposed area, and likely about 150 sales a year.  Add to those numbers the number of people who want to develop something within the area over a year. And then again, add to that an increased number of complaints from people who think they ysee someone “developing” without permission within the 60% area.

If your property is listed for sale now, ask your realtor what the potential ramifications of the new law could be on your property. If they are wise, they will refer you to the Trust for the answer to that question, rather than trying to guess how far the new regulation will impact your property. At the moment, the Trust cannot give you a formal answer to the question. All you will get are generalizations, and nothing in writing. Catch 22.

Reducing Development Permit Fees?

The Trustees and staff  have also been raising the idea of reducing Development Permit Application fees to make it less expensive for an applicant to comply with the new regulation.

This is entirely against every standard local government policy regarding application fees. Application fees are meant to cover the average cost of processing an application.

The Local Government Act Section 931 (2) protects the applicant from being charged a fee more than “…the estimated average costs of processing, inspection, advertising and administration that are usually related to the type of application or other matter to which the fee relates.”

On the other hand, if the fees are too low to cover the costs of “processing, inspection, advertising and administration,” the taxpayers are unfairly picking up the tab for processing an individual’s application.

Thus, it is entirely inappropriate to suggest reduction of application fees as it places the additional burden on taxpayers. In this case, the burden would also be unfairly shared by all other taxpayers in Local Trust Areas which have already established accurate riparian mapping.

Rationale?

The above “proposals” from the Trustees and/or staff are designed to do nothing more than placate the public over the next few weeks prior to Public Hearing. There appears to have been no critical thinking on the consequences of implementing the proposed “ease factors.” Why? Because the Trustees are in such a “rush” to pass the new law.

If this is such a wonderful new proposed law, the full text of which has only become public knowledge in the past week, what is the “rush”? If they are going to ignore the fact they don’t have to change anything to comply with Provincial regulations, they should at least take the time to understand the ramifications of the proposed legislation, let the public understand the ramifications, and, in the end, if the public is finally convinced it is as wonderful as they say it is, there should be no public outcry.

However, with all of its current shortcomings, with the many concerns being expressed by advisory committees and land owners, and dozens of questions which remain unanswered, now is not the time to “rush.”

Shame Cubed

What I have learned today:

1. The Driftwood only found out about the Special Meeting yesterday afternoon, which is why it appeared as a “News Brief” in today’s edition. They were not told by the Trust, but like another citizen, had seen it on the Trust’s bulletin board. No electronic notice sent to anyone.

2. The Staff Report, which was the premise for the meeting today, is dated yesterday (19th) and was only received by the Trustees last night, in spite of the fact the meeting was scheduled evidently sometime before 3:00 PM on Monday.

3. Chair Sheila Malcolmson confirmed staff were NOT directed by Trustees NOT to send out notification by electronic media.

4. Sheila did not know why notification was NOT sent out by staff, but, (a) she “will try to find out what happened,” and (b) it was not as a result of “political direction.”

5. When asked what the statutory time for the posting of a special meeting, Sheila replied, “5 days,” Christine said, “48 hours.” Christine is correct.

6. Trustee George Ehring said “We didn’t have any more notice ourselves. We gave as much notice as we could.”

7. Trustee Christine Torgrimson had the “best” excuse for not being aware of why notice wasn’t sent out, “I’ve been out of town.”

8. The in-camera session today was to discuss Solicitor – Client information. That meeting lasted about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

So, here’s what I don’t understand. (a) none of the Trustees admitted to calling the special meeting, and (b) no one appeared willing to take responsibility for the lack of any real notice.

To me it seemed almost as if Staff had called the meeting, posted it, and informed the Trustees there was going to be a meeting, and then only supplied them with the agenda package last night, less than 24 hours before the meeting.

Now, if this was the first “lapse” of public notice of a “special meeting,” I could almost forgive all of them. But, this is the THIRD time within the past 3 months this has occurred. The first two, unannounced “special meetings” had no members of the public present, not surprising because no one had been informed.

This time were 10 members of the public present, but only because two people happened to see the notice at the Trust office yesterday.

As my elected representatives, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame, shame on you. Fool me three times…well…what the hell can I say?

There is simply no excuse, and no defense, from either Trustees or staff.

Unbelievable.