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Cowichan Conversations: Shawnigan’s Sonia Furstenau Has Thrown Her Hat Into The CVRD Ring!

Sonia Furstenau has declared for Shawnigan

As we await the Environmental Appeal Board’s verdict on whether to uphold South Island Aggregate’s permit to put five million tonnes of contaminated soil in our watershed, we need to be clear and direct with the BC government: No matter what the EAB decides, the people of Shawnigan Lake will never give up the fight to protect our watershed.

Much of my adult life has been committed to advocacy and fighting for justice. As a long-time volunteer and board member of Results Canada, I have written articles about global issues, met with MPs, Cabinet (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Cowichan River Water Quality Advisory Lifted

Nice to read good news from time to time. The concern over drought conditions that threatened our cowichan River was troubling and Don Bodger’s report is a comfort.

By Don Bodger-Cowichan News Leader

The water quality advisory for recreational use on the lower Cowichan River has been rescinded.

The advisory was put in place Saturday for the area of the Cowichan River downstream from the Allenby Road bridge to the mouth of the river. That’s an approximate six-kilometre stretch.

According to Val Wilson of Island Health Communications, samples of the river taken on Monday demonstrated it had returned to its (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Cowichan Valley Election Activity Is Already Underway

Mayor Jon Lefebure

This fall could actually bring excitement and change to our local government elections.

There is a mayoralty race going on in North Cowichan.

Uncompromising tax miser Councillor John Koury has thrown down the gauntlet and declared his intention to serve as the next Mayor.

Koury has substantial support from the mostly conservative crowd.

Councillor John Koury seeks Mayor’s Chair

But a ‘fight on the right’ has developed as former BC Conservative candidate Damir Wallener has declared his intentions to also seek the mayors position.

Wallener has distanced himself from the hard right crowd and offers more of (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Bill Dumont Blows the Whistle On CVRD Directors Failure Over Salary Review

Bill Dumont is a professional forester with a keen eye for local government expenditures. The issue of excessive CVRD management salaries has particularly riled him and in this commentary piece he makes that crystal clear.

Bill Dumont-Financial Watchdog

Nobody should be surprised that the CVRD board and staff want to carry on as usual with excessive salaries and increases, year after year with no consideration for the taxpayer’s ability to pay.

The Board’s salary review committee never cared one whit about the reality of continually increasing our taxes to support grossly overpaid positions in the CVRD compared to local wages (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD Is Setting New Records For Idiocy and Obstruction

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

We have all seen some pretty amazing stunts from the brain trust at the CVRD but this latest manoeuvre takes the cake.

Following the Boards refusal to back the Balme’s efforts to move to full processing at their proposed gravel pit on the Cobble Hill-Cowichan Bay border the Balme’s have proceeded to apply to Energy & Mines to allow gravel removal.

Local residents are understandably concerned . The Energy & Mines ministry has shown such incompetence over the SIA contaminated site proposal in the Shawnigan Watershed and of course the Grand Daddy of all cockups, the Mount Polley mine (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Shawnigan’s Fight Against Contaminated Soil“ This is Crazy!”

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Shawnigan resident Sonia Furstenau has been following the South Island Aggregates (SIA) efforts to import 5 million tonnes of contaminated soils to their Stebbings Road property in the Shawnigan Watershed from the outset.

She attended the Ministry of Environment-Environmental Appeal Board hearings and has written this account of the hearings, making them available for Cowichan Conversations readers.

We appreciate her efforts and look forward to reading more of her observations in the future.


Sonia Furstenau

Two years ago, the people of Shawnigan Lake were informed of a proposed plan to turn a quarry, located on Stebbings (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: The Cowichan River is in trouble once again.

Cowichan Coversations Contributor

With the low snowpack and unusually dry weather, Cowichan Lake is 40 cm lower than it should be at this time of year, while the river flow is down to 5 cubic metres per second and well below typical July levels.

If the situation does not improve, salmon populations will be devastated and the Crofton pulp mill could be forced to suspend operations.

This is not the first time drought conditions have caused major problems with the Cowichan River.

In 2012, chinook salmon were trucked upstream to spawning grounds after the river flow dropped to dangerously low (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Incinerators, Biomass-Just Say No!

Cowichan Conversations: When is a Community Plan NOT a Community Plan?

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Paul Kamill is a relative newcomer to the Cowichan Valley. He bought a small acreage bordering on the proposed Balme family gravel pit on the Cowichan Bay-Cobble dividing line. Little did he know that the ‘Black is White’ crowd controlled the local government.

He was recently treated to the CVRD’s mishandling of yet another colossal cock-up.

Experienced politicians and career Administrator Frank Raimondo-aka “Raimondo the Rude’ refused to abide by their OCP and bylaws. Mr Kamill was treated to our Cowichan version of the British skit- Monty Python.

‘Raimondo-the Rude’ We were 100 percent wrong’!

He immersed (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: The CVRD Is The BC Government Authorized Body To Deal With Solid Waste. The Cowichan Tribes Must Be Included As Full Partners and Participants

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

As a CVRD Director (1993-2002 ) I recall vividly when we had to shut down the incinerators and existing landfill.

We were tasked with finding and establishing a new landfill under BC Government guidelines. The guidelines dictated by MOE made it pretty much impossible to find an area for a landfill that was viable.

After an exhaustive search and process none of the areas investigated were found to be acceptable to the communities nearby.

The last site known as ‘D-1′ up off Highway 18 and was essentially stopped by the Cowichan Tribes intervention as it was within (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD and Cowichan Tribes Politicians Discuss Plans For an Incinerator to be Built in Glenora-Residents Kept in the Dark!

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

The CVRD and the Cowichan Tribes and the Khowutzun Development Corporation (KDC) have been dealing with this matter in secret sessions rather than being out front and accountable.

Garbage incineration is contrary to any level of environmental common sense. It just creates a garbage dump in the sky over our challenged air shed.

All local government jurisdictions are involved in this especially the Cowichan Tribes, City of Duncan and North Cowichan whose residents would be the most affected.

Who is looking out for the health impacts? This especially hard on seniors and those with asthma and other (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Cowichan River Could Dry Up As We Face Drought Conditions

Cowichan Weir-Photo by Brian Hoole

The Cowichan River is being challenged by a very dry spring, no remaining relief from melting snowpacks and the outlook for the balance of the summer and fall is for very dry drought conditions.

The Catalyst Pulp Mill uses vast amounts of water from the Cowichan and with climate change ‘Mother Nature’ is registering her displeasure.

Many of our past practices may no longer be possible during the dry times if the crucial Cowichan salmon are to survive.

We are witnessing the reality of these challenges. The Pulp Mill has supported generations of Cowichan residents (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD Being Sued by David Leitch for Wrongful Dismissal – Update with Correction

Former CVRD Water Manager David Leitch was fired back when CAO Warren Jones was still in charge and then reinstated when it appeared that they did not have grounds for dismissal that would stand up.

When Frank Raimondo took over after the Board he fired Jones for a second time in mid April.

He was unceremoniously escorted out of the building as was done to Bob McDonald. And as with the other dismissals terms of dismissal were not disclosed. It is not known if a settlement was paid to Leitch or McDonald but Warren Jones skipped out of the CVRD offices with 335, (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD Acting CAO Raimondo’s Oral Report About Legal Opinion On Balme Gravel Application

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Exclusive audio report that the CVRD did not want you to hear. 

Cowichan media coverage of local government affairs is scanty, when covered at all.

Both the Cowichan News Leader and the Cowichan Citizen corporate owners have stripped proper staff complements, especially in the newsrooms.

Shaw Cable had for years covered and broadcast the Board and Council meetings throughout the valley. They have quit covering CVRD Meetings but the Regional Government set up their own video system that can be watched online.

While their video streaming is is not as user-friendly as watching it on channel (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Cowichan Bay Residents Win Battle Over Gravel Processing-Director Gerry Giles 100 Percent Wrong!

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Acting CAO Frank Raimondo told the Board of Directors yesterday afternoon that he had received a requested legal opinion that made it clear that they (Directors Giles, Walker, Chair Rob Hutchins and Frank Raimondo) were 100 percent wrong.

They had argued that Oliver and Shelley Balme should have been allowed further process to examine a Temporary use Permit-TUP that could have ended up allowing gravel processing on the Balmes farm in Cobble Hill, bordering Cowichan Bay.

That was quite a mouthful after Cobble Hill Director Gerry Giles and Cowichan Bay’s representative Lori Iannidinardo banged heads at the last Electoral (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Frank Raimondo is a Master of Interpretation and Manipulation of Legal Rules and Regulations

Don Maroc-Political Blogger

At the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) board meeting June 11, temporary Chief Administrator (CAO) Frank Raimondo stopped the proceedings with a suggestion that the issue about to be considered should be sent back to staff for a legal opinion.

Seasoned by many years of experience the Administrator is a master of interpretation and manipulation of legal rules and regulations, but he may be walking into a real quagmire this time. It all has to do with an application from Oliver and Shelly Balme to crush, wash, and sort gravel on their dairy farm property. The Balme’s (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Cowichan Tribes Chief Chip Seymour Supports A Grass Roots Approach

Rob Douglas Cowichan Conversations Contributor

When William (Chip) Seymour was elected Chief of Cowichan Tribes last year, he took a grassroots approach, stressing the need to improve the relationship between Cowichan leaders and band members.

“One of the biggest concerns I heard during the last election was that there is a lack of communication between the band office and the community,” explained Seymour in a recent interview.

“One of the ways I said I would address this issue is by being in the band office everyday so that community members would have someone to talk to.”

Seymour is now (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Posts Regarding CVRD Shenanigans Delayed Temporarily

Richard Hughes- Political Blogger

There has been considerable buzz throughout the community regarding recent gravelly matters and the disappointing conduct of the CVRD, Acting CAO Raimondo and the CVRD insiders that have controlled the political agenda for some time.

There needs to be a restructuring of the CVRD all right, but so far the firings and handsome undisclosed payoff packages for CAO Jones, Water Manager David Leitch and the surprise highly questionable firing of Recycling guy Bob McDonald have been executed with no explanations whatsoever.

Will Raimondo blow his opportunity to set the CVRD back on track?

The public deserve (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD Finally Approves Increased Compostables For The Fisher Road Recycling Facility

Richard ‘Hub’ Hughes- Recycled, Reliable, Rejuvinated

Cowichan Citizen Editor Andrea Rondeau’s front page story in Friday’s Citizen regarding Fisher Road Recycling (FRR) being allowed increased capacity to accept feedstock may or may not mark the end of a long drawn out struggle between Owner Dave Laing and CVRD’s Cobble Hill Director Gerry Giles.


Cobble Hill Director Gerry Giles calls the approval of an amendment that will allow Fisher Road Recycling to take in more compostables in spite of community concern about odours and groundwater “disappointing.”

The Cowichan Valley Regional District gave the go-ahead this week, increasing the firm’s (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Would You Move to the Cowichan Valley for $100,000 a Year?

Would You Move to the Cowichan Valley for $100,000 a Year?By Blaise Salmon

Blaise Salmon

Here’s the deal: a salary of $100,000 a year, a secure government job with full benefits, and a gold-plated pension plan. One imagines there would be no shortage of good applicants for such a plum job. Unfortunately, the elected board of the Cowichan Valley Regional District apparently thinks $100,000 is not nearly enough.

Ten years ago, the head of the CVRD, Frank Raimondo, was paid $110,000 at the top of his scale. By 2013, the top man, Warren Jones, was being paid over $200,000.

How did the top salary at the CVRD increase (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: South Island Aggregates Shuts Down Pit. Is This The End Or Just A Ploy?

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

SIA has apparently shut down their operations and may be out of business.

At first look this is encouraging news to residents justifiably worried about SIA’s government approved plans to bring in 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil to their Stebbings Road operation into the Shawnigan Watershed.

If indeed SIA is now facing serious financial troubles and possibly bankruptcy, expect a substantial lawsuit being filed against the CVRD and possibly the BC government as well.

Whether residents like it or not the SIA crew followed the law as near as can be told, received provincial government examination (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD Recycling and Waste Manager Bob McDonald Has Been Dismissed

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Longtime CVRD Recycling Manager Bob McDonald has been dismissed as the restructuring shakeup at the CVRD continues.

Restructuring seems to be well underway. The CVRD Chair and Directors must share the blame for allowing the organizations rampant growth and high management salaries that brought the CVRD much criticism from taxpayers.

The CVRD had become a monster without a mission under the guidance of former CAO Warren Jones, and the too timid by half elected representatives entrusted with providing effective and accountable governance in the Cowichan Valley.

The Chair and Directors, to their credit, finally bite the bullet (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: No Guarantee P3 Financing For Community Centre Will Save Money

Rob Douglas

Built almost 40 years ago, the Cowichan Community Centre (now known as the Island Savings Centre) provides Cowichan residents with a swimming pool, hockey arena, gymnasium, library, art gallery, and a performing arts theatre.

Local officials anticipate the facility will require significant renovations or replacement within the next decade-and-a-half, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District has already begun setting aside cash.

Replacing the Island Savings Centre will not come cheap, and could cost upwards of $60 million. It should come as no surprise that some of our municipal politicians are already discussing a private-public partnership, or P3, as (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: North Cowichan Councillor Jennifer Woike Is Suddenly Flush With Creative Ideas

Don Maroc

North Cowichan Councillor Jennifer Woike is suddenly flush with creative ideas meant to save money for municipal taxpayers.

First she wants to amalgamate North Cowichan and Duncan as the first step towards a unified regional government.

Ona a different tack she wants to study the use of Public-Private-Partnerships (P3) for municipal infrastructure projects in general and building a new Cowichan Community Centre (now known as the Island Savings Centre) in particular.

NC Councillor Jennifer Woike

Woike’s efforts to get a non-binding amalgamation referendum on the November ballot failed to get the support of her fellow council members.

This (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: North Cowichan Councillor Jennifer Woike Is Suddenly Flush With Creative Ideas

Don Maroc – Cowichan Conversations Contributor

NC Councillor Woike wants amalgamation with Duncan and to do away with the CVRD

North Cowichan Councillor Jennifer Woike is suddenly flush with creative ideas meant to save money for municipal taxpayers.

First she wants to amalgamate North Cowichan and Duncan as the first step toward a unified regional government.

On a different tack she wants to study the use of Public-Private-Partnerships (P3) for municipal infrastructure projects in general and building a new Cowichan Community Centre (now known as the Island Savings Centre) in particular.

Woike’s efforts to get a non-binding amalgamation referendum on the (Read more…)

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