Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Cowichan Conversations: Judith Lavoie on the Shawnigan Contaminated Soil Battle

This article was originally carried in Victoria’s Focus Online. It covers the issue well but misses the crucial matter of the CVRD Shawnigan land use bylaws that prohibit treating and processing materials from off site.

Read more…

Cowichan Conversations: The gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent is widening-Co-operatives could narrow that spread in Cowichan

Here is another instalment from Rob Douglas and Roger Hart regarding economic development and the potential of expanding co-operatives in the Cowicham Region.


Rob Douglas-North Cowichan Councillor

The gap between

Read more…

Cowichan Conversations: Shawnigan’s Challenges Demand Reform At The CVRD

Richard Hughes- Political Blogger

Sonia Furstenau was elected as Shawnigan’s CVRD Director last November. She inherited a horror show left by the former Doctor Director Bruce Fraser.

When news of South Island Aggregates (SIA)

Read more…

Cowichan Conversations: Director Furstenau faces the threat of 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil being dumped in the Shawnigan Watershed

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Sonia Furstenau was elected as Director, November 2014 to represent the Shawnigan community at the CVRD Board Table. She was immediately immersed in the struggle to stop the importation of 5

Read more…

Cowichan Conversations: Economic development is an area of growing interest to local governments across Canada

This is the first of a five part series examining a different approach to beneficial economic development in the Cowichan Valley.

Rob Douglas-North Cowichan Councillor

Economic development is an area of growing interest to

Read more…

Cowichan Conversations: NDP MLA Bill Routley Presses Minister To Test Leachate To Determine Impacts To Shawnigan Residents Drinking Water

BC Government issued a ‘Stop Work’ order instructing SIA to supply full reports on their activities. This is to be reviewed this Friday by MOE.

Cowichan NDP MLA Bill Routley has been

Read more…

Cowichan Conversations: The One Percent Tax Resolution-Local Government Is Being Squeezed


NC Councillor Rob Douglas

Every year, elected officials from Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast, Powell River and the Central Coast meet for the general meeting and convention of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC). They debate and vote on a wide range of resolutions to send to the larger convention of the Union of BC Municipalities held later in the year.

In February 2015, the new Board for the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD)–which took a progressive turn after last fall’s civic elections–passed a bold resolution to address the continuous downloading from (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Screw the Law! — BC Liberal Government Rides Roughshod Over Cowichan Communities

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

The BC Liberal government’s Mines ministry has fully embraced a new political tactic. Screw the law, it is all about rewarding businesses to plunder at will.

South Cowichan residents face two significant challenges that has the BC Liberal government riding roughshod over local government land use jurisdiction authority.

The first is the approval of the South Island Aggregates (SIA) to import 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil and God knows what else to be dumped into the Shawnigan Watershed. This of course puts the water supply for over 8000 citizens at certain risk.

Former Environment Minister Terry (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CERCA-Tribes-Naturalist Groups, Politicians and Industry Reps Celebrate Opening Of Causeway Bridge

Cowichan Citizen’s Lexi Bainas covered the long awaited opening of the causeway bridge.

Onlookers watch as Tom Shandel steers his kayak under the new bridge Saturday, March 28 as part of the official opening ceremonies. Photograph By Lexi Bainas/Citizen


Members of the crowd at the official opening of the causeway bridge at the Cowichan Estuary were in a celebratory mood Saturday as they saw the ribbon cut on the long-awaited project.

They had many reasons for being there: some were members of the Cowichan Estuary Restoration and Conservation Association (CERCA), others from Valley naturalist groups. There were local politicians, (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Rather Than Considering a “Communications Officer”, It Would Seem That Certain Regional Directors Would Derive More Benefit From a Hearing Aid.

Richard Hughes- Political Blogger

Lavonne Huneck is one of my favourite political free thinkers in the Cowichan Valley. Here is her take on the CVRD and the confusion that lives there.

It appears that a number of our regional directors are unaware of the final outcome of the Eco-depot. This is disquieting. To be on record at a Regional District Board meeting opining that “had the public only known” appears either disingenuous or simply a failure to understand that a private citizen requested a legal judgement regarding a CVRD bylaw.

I doubt that the judge who made the decision really (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Cowichan Politicians Reject Staff Driven Bid For Hiring PR Spinners-Slash Budgets

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

It is too easy to poke at our politicians of all stripes and all stations but recently encouraging signs have emerged that show our elected folks are paying attention.

At the CVRD table perhaps it is an injection of newly elected Directors that is making the difference. They actually turned down the budget a couple of weeks back sending it back for further adjustment and trimming.

Last night they lopped off a chunk headed for the black hole known as the Economic Development function.

Too bad they did not just deep six the entire Economic Development operation. (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Shawnigan Community Fights Against Contaminated Soil Dump

More than 200 residents from Shawnigan Lake showed up to discuss last week’s decision by the provincial government to allow a company to dump contaminated soil near Shawnigan Lake

CHEK TV reports

Shawnigan area residents jammed into an overflow room at the Community Centre to get updates on their failed effort to reverse the permit to dump 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil in the Shawnigan Watershed.

The Environmental Appeal Board, controlled by the BC Environment Ministry rejected the communities efforts to protect their watershed, creek lake and drinking water.

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD Failed To Enforce Their Land Use Authority–Shawnigan Faces 5 Million Tonnes of Contaminated Waste

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Here is the CVRD response to the BC Liberal governments decision to allow 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil into the Shawnigan Watershed property on Stebbings Rd.

Truth is the CVRD blew it from the outset by refusing to enforce their land use authority.

The anaemic response by then Director Bruce Fraser, supported by the then mostly Liberal friendly CVRD Board proved to be a deadly combination.

When the finger pointing and blame game commences look first to the ‘do nothings’ at the CVRD. This should and must serve as an example of how the Board works, (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: BC Libs OK SIA Permit, 5 Million Tonnes of Contaminated Soil Destined For Shawnigan Watershed

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

What a shame! Residents were duped into process with various government agencies, a mugs game at best. Polite, respectful and ineffective. Money talks.

The so called appeal hearing is a cruel and expensive joke.

The CVRD dragged their feet for months before they engaged in useless corroboration with the BC Liberal government.

Shawnigan Lake faces an uncertain future.

These fights are won or lost in the street, courts and appeals are for damage control.

Wake up and raise hell, engage in multi pronged civil disobedience to attract attention.

The entire CVRD Board of Directors dragged their feet when (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: A Look Back To Loren Duncan’s Stated Concerns About Runaway Senior Staff Salaries

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Longtime CVRD Director Loren Duncan put his concerns about CVRD senior staff salaries on record in June 2013. As a semi recovering politician I have an appreciation for not only his insight but for stating it publicly.

The group or table dynamics are such that it is difficult to break ranks, but it is essential that elected officials remember and speak for the citizen residents who they were elected to represent. Loren did that often and for those who think that is easy, I assure you that it is not.

Loren Duncan’s Letter June 2013

By Loren (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD Directors Approve Consultant Driven Formula For Senior Staff Salaries

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding the pay levels of CVRD Senior Staff and Department heads over the last couple of years.

These key positions deserve to be well paid by qualified personnel, but the level of pay is disproportionate with the incomes of the taxpayers citizens footing the bill.

The corporate formulas and logic advanced by Julie Case, a Compensation Consultant from Vancouver based Tim Dillon & Associates showed a total disregard for local conditions.

CAO Brian Carruthers brought in consultant to advance case for high senior staff salaries

We have had ample first hand (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD-Board Ducks and Transfers Additional Power To CAO

Don Maroc

Getting toward the end of a three-hour meeting of the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board last Wednesday (11 Mar. 2015), Corporate Secretary Joe Barry tiptoed through the bylaws to be voted on.

It was routine stuff. Board Chair Jon Lefebure was almost chanting, “may I call the question? all in favour, opposed, motion passed.”

Then, halfway through the chant for Bylaw 3905, Alternate Director Blaise Salmon representing Mill Bay raised his hand. Suddenly everyone was awake, wondering probably what this Bylaw has to do with salary levels, since Salmon has made a study of what he considers (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Liberals Squirming Over ‘Jiggery Pokery’ Taunts From NDP’s Brother Bill Routley

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

BC Lib’s urbane quick wit , the sharp tongued Mike DeJong, is doing a not so slow burn over constantly being harpooned by Cowichan NDP MLA ‘Brother Bill Routley’ for their sleazy tactics and heartless governance.

Well actually Routley admitted that one of their MLA’s might have a heart. Probably.

Mike DeJong rattled by Brother Bill Routley

Routley, Bill is getting to them and the obedient MSM types have been following DeJong’s ‘Talking Points’ to a tee.

Cowichan NDP MLA Bill Routley

Well, in Victoria he may have been following them to a tea, at the Empress perhaps.

Here is (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Cowichan Conversations: Liberals Squirming Over ‘Jiggery Pokery’ Taunts From NDP’s Brother Bill Routley

Cowichan Conversations: Brother Bill Speaks Out About SIA Contaminated Soil Threat and BC Libs Inaction

Cowichan Conversations: Maroc-Is the Cowichan Valley Ready For the High Tech Sector?

Don Maroc – Cowichan Conversations Blogger

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Board (CVRD) Damir Wallener delivered a very professional presentation extolling the financial virtues of a hi-tech industry cluster for the Cowichan Valley.

Wallener claims that some years ago he moved to California, probably the famed Silicon Valley, where he learned details of the establishment of a hi-tech sector.

Although Wallener said he has no desire to recreate Silicon Valley here. If that is what he wanted, he explained, he would move to Silicon Valley. He emphasized what he is promoting is on a much smaller (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD It’s Time to Write Into Stone Protections Against the Depredations of Developers

In spite of Cowichan Bay Estates developer’s disgracefully inept efforts to control the forces of nature after their single-minded rush for profits led them to clearcut and remove topsoil from a forested drainage into Cowichan Bay, the local government has been told it has no jurisdiction to take action.

CVRD Director-Lori Iannidinardo

The Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Senior Policy Advisor Jacob Ellis reported that after repeated efforts to find where authority lies for regulation of this looming disaster, it appears no one has the authority, neither the regional government nor the provincial government.

Just because the Christy Clark government has (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Will This Turn Out To Be An Environmental Horror Show In Upper Cowichan Bay-CVRD Officials Fail To Act!

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Cowichan Bay Estates, tucked away off Vee Road in upper Cowichan Bay gives the appearance of being at the verge of an environmental horror show that could threaten homes and properties downside of the development, and yet nobody seems to be acting to put an immediate halt to any further work.

Watercourses have been rerouted, heron habitat compromised, a soggy unstable moonscape that has had the topsoil and trees removed remains.

CVRD Director Lori Iannidinardo has reported to CVRD staff who are responsible for the drainage plan, but has been told nothing can be done! She has also (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Solar Panel Show and Tell at the CVRD’s Regional Services Committee-Jan 28th 6PM

Don Maroc

Cowichan’s premier cheerleader for climate change mitigation, Peter Nix takes the promotion of roof-top solar electric panels to the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) Regional Services Committee next Wednesday (Jan. 28), at 6 pm.

Shawnigan Lake’s Blaise Salmon will join Nix asking the CVRD directors to assess the best methods to provide financial help to home and business owners for installation of solar panels.

As an incentive to help pry the lid off the regional district’s treasure chest, they will suggest that the solar panel technology offers a way to achieve the CVRD’s stated Green House Gas (GHG) (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: California Was Fun But Nothing Beats The Cowichan Valley

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

We recently returned from our winter reprieve with friends in Sunny California. It was a great get away and we were treated to wonderful food, music, the occasional wee glass of wine and some day trips around the San Jose area, Monterrey and also squeezed in visits to see longtime friends in the San Francisco Bay area.

Kicked off our visit with a NHL game at the ‘Shark Tank’ where our Canucks came in and managed a 3-1 victory. I wore my Canuck jersey and I was not alone. Canuck Nation lives. It was fun high living (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Maroc-Black Days Ahead For Cowichan Newspapers

Don Maroc – Cowichan Conversations

Six weeks of trying to keep warm by a small propane fire. Six weeks of carrying picket signs, of waving at horn-blowing motorists, explaining to passers-by why they are outside the offices of the News-Leader-Pictorial, when their jobs are inside the building.

These selfless people, from advertising, newsroom, production and distribution, who have long brought the community a newspaper twice a week are on the outside looking in because David Black, millionaire owner of the News-Leader, has decided to change their pay scale. The employees are a Unifor union shop and they say no to (Read more…)