Shameless manipulation of public good in Cowichan estuary

Local bylaws are notoriously ignored until complaints arise.

Shameless manipulation of public good in Cowichan estuary

Our lives in a so-called civilized setting are determined by increasingly complex rules and guidelines — laws that most are expected to follow to keep things on an even keel for all players. Recent years have seen a deterioration of how laws are placed, who happens to be well versed with modern, complex issues enough to follow them, and how they are enforced.

Local bylaws are notoriously ignored until complaints arise. That, on a large scale, captures the local politics of the shameful [Cowichan Bay] estuary issue of illicit company operations on Dock Road (Westcan) Terminal. The entangled, outdated constitutional setup of CVRD allows regional directors from Mill Bay, Shawnigan, Lake Cowichan and Ladysmith, but not North Cowichan (who have many of their voters living on and around the estuary) to vote on this Valley dividing issue.

This week’s timing was very cute with so many diverting current issues in the Valley such as the national election, Cowichan pot shops, motosports decisions etc. to finally sneak this in under the radar. In a shameless end run of the well laid out laws and regulations (Provincial Order of Council), the CVRD has ignored every common sense aspect of the process, twice bypassing testing environmental requirements, even confusing their own directors as to what and when the bylaw was being voted on. Old fashioned pork barrelling is encouraged by corporations aiming for an angle to make more profits without concerns for mere environment. At a time when local salmon and whales are dying and young students are scolding adults for their immoral running of the planet, CVRD finds it appropriate to fall back to an era when ill-pledged promises to neighbours and friends outrule decent and principled moral actions for the people the taxpayers they represent.

Cutting corners with a poorly conducted public meeting that shut out many, many dozens of concerned citizens from having a say, they have leaned on questionable input, when convenient, to “transparently” push through their goals. The provincial NDP have crabwalked to the right (in the dramatic image of previous national NDP leader Thomas Mulcair) in pushing jobs, jobs, jobs and corporation access, and posted Chairman Ron Diederichs of the Nanaimo Forestries Division to act as their pointman to decide there are no concerns with possible environmental complications (if the storm runoff guidelines and municipal protocols are in place etc., he said to me in the spring). They quote CEEMP Chairman Diederichs to advantage, but ignore his recommendations for the little due process he did ask.

This is not about local jobs. The truly sad part is that corporations have zero care for the homeless as well as hard working taxpayers and their jobs. Increasingly they push robotics, driverless cars and more profits by running slipshod over the environment. They are on a mission to take more jobs, just as they stole from Island logging. Director Iannidinardo claims Western Stevedoring got a bad rap, but they are owned by Carrix and run Tidal Harmony Holdings that illegally sublet the lease to Pacific Marine for a fine profit on the paltry sum they now pay — PIM over the decades built up quite a profitable business on the Terminal to the disadvantage of their local competitors. Carrix is a huge multinational out of Seattle. If CVRD does not perceive possible difficulties with that, I suggest it is patently naive. Squatters’ rights with growingly profitable PIM bridge and dock contracts cannot be justified by mere presence, when other local landlocked marine businesses are shut out. If legal processes are twisted now to fit an illicit situation, one can only imagine what could develop with guidelines that allow much further expansion.

Fine homes overlooking the estuary Terminal in Cowichan Bay Village will likely lose almost half their assessed values in the years ahead. We are cynical in expecting politicians to now help themselves by facilitating just such corporate business, but if we sit idly by, we will again get a government we deserve on Monday — and locally into the foreseeable future when we will no longer need to worry about mere innocent salmon, whales, Gretas and scenic views.

Robin Lawson


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