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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…)

. . . → Read More: Cowichan Conversations: North Cowichan Councillor Jennifer Woike Is Suddenly Flush With Creative Ideas

Cowichan Conversations: BC Environment Ministry Bully Local Government

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Earlier this week the CVRD held ’Public Meeting’ of sorts to hear response from locals regarding efforts by Fisher Road Recycling to expand their operation to sync with the compost facilities capacity.

The elected officials were unable to weigh in this a land use issue that is very much a part of their responsibility as elected representatives. They were limited by Bylaw 2570.

Locally regulations were first tweaked through Bylaw 2570 to deal with illegal operations with a local waste hauler, since departed.

It is important for taxpayers to know that once again our BC Liberal government has (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Bill Dumont Is Unhappy With CVRD Spending

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Bill Dumont, a South Cowichan watchdog scrutinizes government spending and shares his latest thoughts in this offering.

Mr.Dumont has had broad experience as a Forester and is well aquainted with budgets and financial matters.

Like many of you who will read Bill’s analysis I find myself both in agreement and at odds with some of the points raised.

However the general message is for an increased level of financial accountability from government and on that point a great many will agree. I know that I do.

Dear Editor

Bill Dumont is financial watchdog of government spending

(Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Thrifty Foods Has Established Their Central Warehouse on the Mainland

Don Maroc-Cowichan Conversations Contributor

Based on a statement at the Regional Agricultural Commission’s February meeting “it was noted that Thrifty Foods has established their central warehouse on the mainland and island producers must go through this channel.”

At last Wednesday’s CVRD Board meeting it seemed to District E (Glenora/Sahtlam) Director Loren Duncan that such a centralized procurement system will make it even more difficult for Cowichan Valley farmers to sell their products to Thrifty Foods two Cowichan stores. Since 2007, the 35-year-old Thrifty chain has been controlled by Sobey’s, Canada’s second largest supermarket chain (Loblaw’s is largest). Thrifty’s two (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Opposition To The Shawnigan Watershed Contaminated Soil Threat Gains Momentum

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

The ups and downs of the battle trying to save Shawnigan from becoming home to 5 million tonnes of toxic soil being dumped in their watershed shows no signs of slowing down or losing momentum.

It is difficult to imagine how the BC Liberal Government would allow their permit issued to South Island Aggregates (SIA) to stand.

The local land use authority rests with the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) who initially misread the threat allowing SIA to gain approval from the BC Environment Minister.

Fighting to protect Shawnigan watershed

Despite the early mishandling of the application (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Council of Canadians Seek to Protect Shawnigan Watershed From Toxic Dumps

The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) has been appearing before the BC Environmental Board in Victoria looking for relief from the entity that might provide their best chance of overturning South Island Aggregates (SIA) permit to dump 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil in the Shawnigan Watershed.

Yesterday, the Council of Canadians Victoria chapter protested outside an Environmental Appeal Board hearing to demand that the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment reverse its decision to grant South Island Aggregates a permit to dump toxic soil near the Shawnigan Lake watershed. Council of Canadians chapter activist Ted Woynillowicz was interviewed by (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: The CVRD Board Fired CAO Warren Jones-No Reasons Given!

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

I have criticized the CVRD politicians over their handling of the Eco Depot, contaminated sites, lack of out front debate and I stand by my posts in that regard.

However, on Friday they fired their CAO-Warren Jones from the top management position and I am relieved to hear it.

Justification could be registered over a long list of poor decisions and an absolute failure to provide the leadership and guidance that an elected board relies on to keep the ship upright.

The announcements did not give any reason for his mutually agreed upon departure.

Fired CVRD CAO (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: An Inspiring Sign of the Times


This picture graced my inbox this morning. Apparently there were a number placed through the Shawnigan umm, downtown area.

If anyone has any more pictures, background or information feel free to contact me at so that we may collaborate.

Will we see more coming? Who dunnit?

Richard Hughes-Let’s Collaborate

BTW I have heard through the grapevine that my name has been connected to the buzz.

Nice enough, but if I had done it there would have been a rooster on the sign, probably my picture and blog address.

Well at least people will be chattering about it, (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Is A Flawed Tool

Rob Douglas

A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that Canada’s economy had grown by a modest 0.2 per cent during the last month on record, the fifth consecutive month of growth.

This was greeted as good news, as we define a healthy economy as a growing economy, and track our success with a tool called the gross domestic product – or GDP.

GDP measures the total value of all goods and services produced in a country within a specific period of time, such as a quarterly or annual basis.

For example, every time a grocery store sells (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: SIA Dumps a Major Spin Job On Victoria Times Colonist

Sandra McCulloch’s Victoria Times colonist article on the latest SIA drama shows that the proponents can spin the Bullshit with the best of them.

The owners of South Island Aggregates say the three-year fight over the dumping of contaminated soil at their Shawnigan site has been as frustrating for them as it has been upsetting for area residents.

This week, the Environmental Appeal Board allowed soil dumping to begin on a limited basis.

The five-week appeal to be heard by the board will begin March 3, reviewing the issuance of SIA’s permit.

The Ministry of Environment granted the permit to (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD Video Feed Shut Off During Debate Over 50K Grant To Shawnigan Basin Society

Richard Hub Hughes-Political Blogger

The controversial Alternate Approval Process (AAP) employed by the Shawnigan Director Bruce Fraser, via the CVRD, struck a new low in an already crowded room of misdeeds and screwups of Cee Vee Rrrr Dinian proportions.

I may have already posted too many Shawnigan Basin Society stories, AKA Shawnigan BS, but here we go again.

Being an occasional keener, about CVRD matters, I decided to tune into tonight’s Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) Meeting and take advantage of their live streaming set up so that we plebeians can watch our elected folks in (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Guest Column-CVRD Director Loren Duncan on AAP’s & Referendums

CVRD Director Loren Duncan

We all now know why 14 of the 28 Regional districts across the Province do not have a Regional Grant in Aid, program, they are simply to difficult to control when the need is great and the will power is weak.

The long list of historic and recent Grant-in-Aid dependants is being added to by a pleading for a “Regional Arts & Culture stipend”…say a few hundred thousand a year, give or take a quarter million here or there….sounds good?

Visionary? Depends on how you feel about your property tax bill. The Arts & Culture (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Brent Beach On The Shawnigan Basin Society 50K Per Year Grant

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

As we continue to look at the Shawnigan Basin Society’s attempted tax grab through the discredited Alternate Approval Process (AAP) this Brent Beach December column is being reproduced here.

It is well worth a read especially for those who may have missed it in the Shawnigan Focus.

To me there are two distinct issues here.

Firstly the ‘Parallel Universe’ of unelected political groups looking for tax dollars though a ‘Negative Billing’ AAP and then secondly, the gall of trying to slip this scheme past the voters during the busy month of December when holiday issues dominate most (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Shawnigan Basin Society Director Blaise Salmon Resigns In Protest

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Blaise Salmon, a former Director of the Shawnigan Basin Society, has resigned due to his concerns over CVRD Director Bruce Fraser’s financial mismanagement of the Society’s affairs.

Blaise Salmon- Resigns in protest.

Although Bruce Fraser is not named as a Director on their website it is one of several political fronts in play under his leadership and influence.

Their website shows the present and possibly past Directors.

The Shawnigan Residents Association has been acting in concert with the CVRD and Director Fraser regarding legal efforts against South Island Aggregates (SIA) efforts to dump 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Shawnigan’s CVRD (AAP) Should Be Yanked! It Is An Unprecedented 50 Thousand Dollar Per Year Rip Off!

Shawnigan Lake faces an uncertain future.

Peter Rusland penned this recent report in The Cowichan News Leader

What part of ‘No’ does Victoria not understand about dumping dirty dirt near Shawnigan Lake?

Let’s hope they get all of that short word.

It’s been said loudly enough this year by Shawnigan residents fighting South Island Aggregates’ permit to dump and treat five million tonnes of fuel-laced soil in its quarry off Stebbings Road.

Clearly, treating contaminated soil in a sensitive watershed could be a recipe for Cowichan’s largest environmental disaster since Crofton pulp mill’s polluting ways of the 1970s and ‘80s.

(Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Shawnigan’s CVRD Money Grab Designed To Slip By Unsuspecting Taxpayers

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

One of the most abusive practices of local governments is the ‘Alternate Approval Process’.

In plain english it is a money grab dressed up in legalese in an attempt to make is sound legitimate and practical.

It is a process designed to fail and is an update from the old’ Counter-Petition Process‘ that only required 5 percent approval.

Fact is that on too many occasions residents would manage to garner 5 percent plus and so the politicians doubled the requirement. Shameless!

The Alternate Approval Process (AAP) means they will extract the money if they can manage to slip it through.

(Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Save Shawnigan Water From Contaminated Soil Pollution

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

The controversial issue of dumping 500 tonnes of contaminated soil in the watershed at SIA’s Stebbings Road site has been approved and a permit has been issued by the BC Ministry of the Environment.

The threat to the watershed, creek, lake and water supply has been strongly opposed by the threatened Shawnigan community.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) have managed to convince the BC Environmetal Appeal Board to take a closer look.

As a result of continuing and growing opposition the threat will now be scrutinized by the BC Environmental Appeal Board. A hearing will be (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: One More Kick at the Can For Shawnigan Watershed Supporters To Stop Contaminated Waste Dump

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

The severity of the threat facing the Shawnigan Watershed from receiving 500 Tonnes of contaminated soil has been enough for the BC Environmental Appeal Board to allow for a ‘Public Hearing’ in spring 2014.

The Cowichan Citizen’s Sarah Simpson filed this report on this long running battle.

South Island Aggregates (SIA) had previously won approval from the Provincial Environment Ministry to deposit and possibly treat the materials at their Stebbings Road property located in the Shawnigan Watershed.

Following a long drawn out ‘Keystone Cops’ like lead up to the upcoming spring hearings the full CVRD Board of (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Sydney and Victoria Freeze Staff Wages-While CVRD Salaries Continue To Soar!

Richard HughesPolitical Blogger

It seems the elected officials in Sydney actually pay attention to raises handed out to senior staffers outside of the bargaining unit.

At the CVRD it took five years of hefty hikes before CVRD Director Ian Morrison spoke up and called for a municipal audit to into the matter.

Apparently Director Morrison had not realized the scope of the raises and when it did he rang the bell.

CVRD Director Ian Morrison

Latest word was former CVRD Administrator Frank Raimondo, now sitting in as the Alternate Director for Cobble Hill attended a meeting, rolled up his (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Fisher Road Recycling Reject Restrictive CVRD Amendments-Lawyers Ask Courts To Decide

Dara Quast-Cowichan Conversations Contributor


The CVRD is facing yet another court challenge regarding its conduct and decision making practices.

A business in Cobble Hill, Fisher Road Recycling, is asking the courts to declare that the license amendment that was requested by Fisher Road be granted under the terms for which it was applied. The petition is long and interesting, but here are some of the highlights:


Fisher Road Recycling is asking that the court declare that the amendments which the CVRD imposed in 2010, 2011, and 2012 be “set aside for illegality in whole or in (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: CVRD Heads Off To Environmental Appeal Board In Hopes of Stopping Contaminated Soil Being Dumped In The Shawnigan Watershed

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

It has been a year and a half since Shawnigan residents learned of an application to dump 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil in their watershed.

Until recently the CVRD Directors followed Shawnigan Director Fraser’s lead. They studied, stalled and collaborated with the BC Environment Ministry and then Minister Terry Lake in one of the most bizarre chapters of political action ever seen in the valley.

Shawnigan’s Director Bruce Fraser, after refusing to enforce Shawnigan land use bylaws, must have been over ruled by the CVRD Board who are finally taking the action that would have been appropriate from the outset.

The Shawnigan residents could (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: 2013 Cowichan Local Government ‘Stupid Awards’

Richard HughesPolitical Blogger

In an attempt to win back some of accolades and spotlight from the CVRD, North Cowichan Council has seen the CVRD’s mishandling of the contaminated soil issue, by convincingly raising them with a far reaching plan to situate important public services and building in the Somenos Marsh floodplan.

The judges are still processing this challenge through their state of the art ‘Stupid Machine’ but it hissed, bells rang, smoke started bellowing out and then it just died.

Is Shawnigan’s Director Bruce Fraser still in the lead?

Well, don’t bet on it. In spite of his focused (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Have the CVRD Politicans Finally Woken Up?

Richard ‘Hub’ Hughes-Political Blogger

I suspect that many of you are getting as tired of hearing about yet another CVRD screw up and outright failure to responsibly represent the taxpaying residents in the Cowichan Valley as I am blogging about it.

Should we just ignore their incompetence and failure to even understand their own land use bylaws?

I often wish we could but the local papers and radio station are not adequately staffed or even much interested in holding them to account.

Now that the CVRD politicians are back from their UBCM convention it time to refocus on their incomprehensible positioning around the (Read more…)