Letter: Councillor victim of a bully mayor?

Councillor victim of a bully mayor?

The June 2, 2022 edition of the Cowichan Citizen newspaper reports that the mayor of North Cowichan made formal legal complaints against fellow councillor, Kate Marsh. There is more to this controversial story.

The following are solely my opinions about this important matter. The investigator’s report to council is available publicly on the municipality’s website.

It is a lengthy document. After reading it, it is clear that Kate Marsh is not completely in the wrong. What motivated the mayor to act in such a drastic manner? It is my opinion the mayor acted as a bully would act. The fact remains Mayor Al Siebring had alternative options for airing his concerns regarding Marsh, versus using a costly taxpayer-funded legal approach. Why didn’t Councillor Manhas’s past transgressions garner this type of reprimand?

Councillor Marsh made an effort, according to investigators, to confirm Cowichan Tribes’ opinion, regarding the draft OCP. First Nations leaders indeed confirmed their comments were official.

Tribal leaders state support for “service-support contained development in designated growth centres” leading to less traffic, reduced fossil-fuel emissions and walkable communities.

On the one hand Mayor Siebring seems to be doing his best to downplay even the most sensitive and reasonable official input from our Cowichan Tribes community, yet on the other hand during the OCP councillor’s review, he made such a long winded emotional plea for more First Nations input. Are these contradictions simply more stall tactics?

In my opinion, the mayor has been pushing approval of the Bell-McKinnon Land Area Plan surrounding our new Cowichan hospital site, where developers and land speculators have been lobbying council for rezoning and development permits.

Our mayor is clearly pro-development, favouring a plan that could see development inviting a population four times the size of the City of Duncan.

This uninvited planning of sprawl flies in the face of all evidence from recent public surveys in which North Cowichan residents participated through our new draft official community plan’s engagement process.

With five times as many respondents to recent surveys, compared to our past OCP review, residents want our municipality to continue as a rural area — not a municipality such as Langford where every available piece of land is being constructed upon.

Mayor Siebring has declared he is not running for re-election. But he has seemingly used his unjustified legal complaint to discredit Kate Marsh prior to our upcoming Oct. 15 election.

This, in my opinion, plays into the secretive but not unknown Cowichan Works group alleged planning, to promote a pro-development candidate slate this fall.

Our divisive, disruptive mayor appears to be using his position, plus knowledge of municipal regulations and legal aspects, to stall the adoption of our draft OCP.

Those delays could see that crucial decision, determined by a newly elected council.

That could be a very costly mistake, after hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent for a process which fairly represents what residents really want.

Bryan Senft

North Cowichan

Letters to the editor