Monthly Archives: November 2009

Apologize to Mayor Cardinal!

Mon, 17 Mar 2008

Background: Mark Cardinal, the Mayor of Highlands, is another Vancouver Island politician with ties to the destructive and possibly corrupt Bear Mountain Resort. Cardinal demanded an apology for an error in a press release last week, and I was happy to comply.


Mayor Mark Cardinal

A few days ago, I sent a press release about Highlands Mayor Mark Cardinal and the stump grinder that is currently making sawdust from cedar and fir stumps at the site of the Bear Mountain Interchange in Langford. I asked: “if [Cardinal] is not doing anything illegal or unethical, why did he go to the effort of covering up the Eco Pro logo on the machine’s cab?”


The stump grinder in action

It turns out Eco Pro doesn’t own the machine any more. The mayor tells me he is no longer a partner in the company, and the red stump grinder belongs to him alone. Cardinal says his last day on the job with Eco Pro was December 31, 2007. He doesn’t specify the reason for his departure from the company. However, he does add that he and his fellow Highlands councillors have been found “not guilty” of conflict of interest charges in the past.

Conflict of interest arises when a public official votes to provide a benefit to a money-making venture without disclosing private connections to that venture. Mayor Cardinal did not excuse himself from a vote to grant Bear Mountain permission to expand its development to within 10 to 20 metres of Osborn Creek and other small waterways. In December, he also voted to allow a sewer pipe to cross through Highlands territory from the resort to the City of Langford sewer main.

The stump grinder owned by the mayor is on the south side of Highway 1 west of Spencer Road in Langford. It is only a few meters from Langford Lake Cave, a First Nations traditional site threatened by the ongoing construction of the Bear Mountain Interchange. An observer said Cardinal is likely charging the City of Langford in the neighbourhood of $500 an hour for the service.

Cardinal denies that he is guilty of conflict of interest. “You make reference to past conflict charges of interest [sic] tainting myself and other Councillors,” Cardinal writes. “After a full review by a learned judge, those charges were determined invalid [sic] by the court.”

To date, no new conflict of interest charges have been filed against Cardinal or any of his fellow councillors.

Cardinal is right to bring my attention to “this unnecessary chain of events that may have caused irreparable damage to my credibility within the greater . . . community and especially with my local political colleges.” [sic – I think he means “colleagues.”]

I would like to commend Mayor Cardinal for his honesty in coming forward and setting the record straight, and I apologize for any confusion my initial press release may have caused.

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Mulligan Stew

Sun, 16 Mar 2008

Mayor Stew Young  does spin control
Mayor Stew Young does spin control

The past week has been rough for Langford mayor Stew Young. First he was roasted by the newspapers and TV stations. Then came his public spanking by the BC Civil Liberties Association, and finally the Municipal Finance Authority declined the terms of a loan for Stew’s pet highway project.

Despite the mounting pressure, the blustery mayor has not backed down from his threats to sue me for the cost of a massive police raid on a small protest camp near Victoria, BC last month. Nor is he reconsidering the destructive highway project that will demolish a First Nations cave, although the MFA’s rejection will force him to seek new financing.

Far from cooling down, Stew is on a rampage. The rumor mill says we can expect the lawsuit to be served early this week. Brace yourself for months of media entertainment and epic lulz as Stew tries to justify ordering a hundred heavily-armed police officers to arrest a handful of sleeping campers. I especially look forward to hearing him explain why I’m responsible for the $100,000 operation and how I’m the leader of the anarchists. (I was not at the camp, and I was not arrested, detained, or even questioned about any alleged illegal activity.)

In a surprise move, Young and his staff expanded the crackdown on free speech in Langford last week. This time, they targeted a young mother who put up letter-sized signs (and a small banner on her porch) that read Get the Facts: LangfordProtest.org. On Monday, a municipal enforcement officer arrived on Jennifer Andison’s doorstep with an order to cease and desist or face a $100 fine. Jen was astonished. Political speech is protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but not according to Langford’s restrictive sign bylaws. (You can imagine how many lawyers have called this week to ask who is representing Jen.)

Thanks to my press release, news outlets carried Jen’s story – and her signs – across the province. The BC Civil Liberties Association is on high alert, out of concern that Langford is escalating attempts to deprive people of their civil rights for political reasons. Stew faces more than just another public spanking this week — he may end up fighting for his political life.

Save Langford Lake Cave

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Goon Squad Attacks Bear Mountain Rally

Fri, 29 Feb 2008


Construction workers throw a math professor to the ground. Video still from CHEK news

This week, Bear Mountain contractors organized a “welcoming party” for folks rallying against the interchange. Around 200 men (and two women) showed up to our small rally Friday. It was a lovely gesture but somehow we forgot to get their names and addresses to send thank-you notes. Please help by forwarding this message to all your friends!

It’s great to see all these fine Bear Mountain employees engaging in “a free and open exchange of views” and “dialogue and democracy.”. We would like to thank these gentlemen (and ladies) for bringing so much attention to the cause!

This past week was proclaimed Anti-Bullying Week, and the RCMP would like to commend the upstanding citizens who came out Friday for their commitment to human rights, free speech, and defusing conflict. Those involved in Friday’s event can visit the West Shore RCMP station on Atkins Road in Langford or call 474-2264 for a personal commendation and thanks for presenting such an excellent example to young people.

We realize some of these heroes may be too modest to step forward, and that’s why we are asking folks in Langford and nearby to take a look at the videos linked below. Every one of these samaritans deserves public recognition! And since they are not camera-shy, their faces are up on Youtube for everyone in the world to view. We already know several of these individuals, but we are asking for help to identify the rest, so we can invite them to our next party!

Listen and watch – if you dare …

Raw video – 6 minutes
(Warning: foul and abusive language)

Thanks to Stimulator for the invaluable technical assistance!

Do you recognize any of these people? Tell us who they are – we would like to invite them to our next party!

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Mayor Stewy Wants to Sue Me

Tue, 26 Feb 2008


Stew Young is open for business.

Highlights from the front page of today’s Times Colonist, the daily fish wrap in Victoria, BC.

Langford plans to sue highway protesters

Group should be on the hook for estimated $100,000 in policing costs, says mayor

Langford plans to sue a group of protesters to recover the costs of their interference in construction of the new Trans-Canada Highway interchange near Spencer Road, Mayor Stew Young says.

“It’s trying to get money out of people who can’t rub two nickels together, but we have to go after some of them,” Young said Monday.

Langford is still negotiating with the province over who will bear the cost of a massive RCMP operation about two weeks ago in which an estimated 50 to 60 officers surrounded, and then cleared away, a tree-sit protest in the woods between Leigh Road and the highway in order to make way for the interchange.

That operation alone – in which three protesters were charged – could cost the municipality more than $100,000, Young said

“You may not be criminal, but if you put masks on and you block our surveyors and impede us … then we can sue you for our costs. They may not be criminally charged by the RCMP, but we’re going to now go after damages,” Young said.

“That’s hilarious,” protest organizer Zoe Blunt said yesterday when told of Langford’s plans.

“I don’t know what they’re going to recover from people that they haven’t already taken away – their backpacks, their shoes, their coats, their IDs, their wallets. I think he’s beating his chest and he’s trying to intimidate people.”

Blunt said that unlike Young’s “billionaire friends” her only asset is “a five-year-old computer.” She welcomed meeting Langford’s lawyers in court.

“We would like to see all the evidence of all the money that was spent and all the plans that were made and everything that had to do with the transfer of land; and all of their own assets and all of their interests they have in Bear Mountain and other resorts and other land and properties. We would like to get that all on the table,” she said.

Read the whole article here.

For my press release, keep reading.

Throwing Good Money After Bad
Why Mayor Stewart Young wants to sue penniless protestors for the cost of that huge police raid he ordered.

Two weeks after he called in a massive military-style strike against a handful of sleeping campers at the Bear Mountain Tree Sit, Langford Mayor Stewart Young has got the bill, and it’s a doozy. According to today’s Victoria Times Colonist, Young says that the final tally is still being worked out, but Langford’s share of the operation could be over $100,000. The rest of the cost goes to provincial taxpayers.

Young apparently signed a blank cheque on the taxpayer’s account when he called in a small army of police to the site of the controversial Bear Mountain Interchange on February 13. Over fifty RCMP officers, many with assault rifles pointed at protestors, stormed the camp in the pre-dawn hours and evicted five people. Two were charged with mischief. Two others were charged later for stopping construction equipment.

Now Young is threatening to sue those involved with the protest for the cost of the raid. Not only that, he is threatening to sue me in particular — and I haven’t committed any “crime.” I was not arrested, charged, detained, or even questioned about any alleged illegal activity. But I am guilty of disagreeing with Mayor Young’s sickening development ambitions, so he’s threatening to SLAPP me with a strategic lawsuit against public participation.

Young’s police raid racked up well over $100,000 in bills to taxpayers this month. A lawsuit could cost twice that, and it is not likely to be successful. Such a lawsuit by a municipality is almost unprecedented.

Add those taxpayer costs to the $25 million that Langford council is attempting to borrow on behalf of the Bear Mountain developers, and here’s the bottom line: Stewart Young is reckless and irresponsible with other people’s money. His hugely expensive police attack was far out of proportion to any possible threat the campers posed, and now he thinks he can get the money back by suing people who have no assets. In my opinion, Young is unfit to run a lemonade stand, let alone hold public office.

On the morning of the police raid on the tree sit camp, RCMP officers were brought in from as far away as Surrey and Nanaimo for the overkill operation, which left two Langford neighbourhoods behind police lines for three days. Dozens of residents were detained by police every time they entered or left their street. One officer who would not give his name told a protestor there were 300 police involved in the raid and the three days of RCMP roadblocks on both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Young’s police adventure and his legal threats violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is still the law of the land — even in Langford.

——————————

Bonus: best comments from GNN.

What a jackass…

Keep up the fight Zoe!

Memnoch07 @ 02/26/08 04:39:53

Today’s best comment on the Times Colonist story.

So let me see, the mayor of Langford hires 60 cops and swat teams with mobile command centers and enough ammo to start the 3rd world war to arrest 3 guys sitting in a tree. Hmmmm. And now he doesn’t want to pay for it. Frankly he should have to pay for it out of his own pocket. What a freaking idiot. Where on earth do they find these people?

ZoeBlunt @ 02/26/08 18:17:25

Great comment, that.

tango @ 02/26/08 18:28:30

Awesome…

misanthropic @ 02/26/08 19:34:15

He looks not at all sleazy.

Science @ 02/26/08 19:35:10

Brilliant. 5 I say 5.

mercenary @ 02/26/08 20:59:00

IMPEACH STEW YOUNG
Do what you have to with no attachment to the results
Mother Nature gets last bat
jackson browne

Some of them were angry at the way the earth was abused

By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power

And they struggled to protect her from them only to be confused

By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour

blessings zoe

lung

mtnlungta @ 02/26/08 21:41:28

Good luck, Zoe. Keep us updated.

5

Truthcansuk @ 02/26/08 21:47:20

Awesome! Keep fighting Zoe u rock!

TheRedPill @ 02/27/08 00:46:55

So to “recover” money protesters “cost” them in policing, they are going to spend man-hours and money to sue them even though it is openly acknowledged they don’t have money to pay should they lose the lawsuit? That is brilliant. Good job mayor.

How about instead of trying to “recover” money that you shouldn’t have wasted fucking with protesters (since it was you that decided to spend it) to begin with, you don’t spend even more money suing them when it’s going to end up costing more than would be “recovered” should the suit be successful? Or do you have an obsession with spending money going after people for protesting? That’s not being petty at all.
(you = the city jackoffs)

“I lost $20 today”
“You need to hire a private investigator @ $100 an hour to find it.”
“Good idea, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Jackasses.

EGisJUICE @ 02/27/08 03:21:05

Don’t talk sense EG… if you can send a message to those no good beatniks it’s worth it no matter the cost. Will make them think again next time someone wants to rape and destroy the environment! All Hail the Dollar!

Not_Uberche @ 02/27/08 04:21:36

awesome

Livingston @ 02/27/08 10:44:24

he’ll just have to get his money the old fashioned way…

have a bake sale…

variable @ 02/27/08 11:12:15

Have I mentioned lately that you’re my idol? Also, Mayor Stew… does he happen to have a brother Bruce? The resemblance is uncanny (physical and political).

gaanjah_mama @ 02/27/08 11:49:19

I was reading a bit more about Stewie in “Focus” on my way to work this morning.

Basically this guy has offered unrestricted access for developers to destroy a pristine Douglas-fir forest (I happen to work with Doug-fir ecosystems) to put up an obscene amount of condos and turn what was once a thriving ecosystem into a fucking golf course and vineyards. In the process he’s using tax-payer money to finance this clusterfuck, which by all accounts is completely unrealistic, as is his “my-way-or-I’ll call-a-small-army-to-get-you” style of community relations.

This is seriously the scuzziest person I’ve read about in a long time, and as others have said, Zoe and the other tree-sitters are personal heroes of mine for standing up to this wanker.

tango @ 02/27/08 12:07:12

This guy sounds like a total douche.

He seems like he ought to be working on his trans-am and listening to Winger rather than running anything.

Maybe I have a false impression about BC in general, but how did such an environmental nightmare and business-whore get elected out there?

Keep up the good fight Zoe.

deadduck @ 02/27/08 17:13:34

People like Zoe are the reason I check in on this site, and sadly, the majority of them have fled…

misanthropic @ 02/27/08 18:31:34

Maybe I have a false impression about BC in general, but how did such an environmental nightmare and business-whore get elected out there?

how have they been pillaging until now, anywhere? you think just because youre canadien, you have a clear ability to immunize your socialistic ass to our US capitalism, eh?

wtf dreamworld do you live in?

stick to the undead

(especially on the island)

on edit, this particular post is in response to dead ducks

remarcus @ 02/27/08 21:05:51

The title reminds me of Supertroopers.

“She can sue me.”

misanthropic @ 02/27/08 21:11:55

“‘That’s hilarious,’ protest organizer Zoe Blunt said yesterday when told of Langford’s plans.”

I wholeheartedly agree with you 🙂

I am also concerned that this could set precedents for how to deal with protestors who might not be doing anything illegal, but are seen in that light given that they continually end up in court.

As an advocate for tenant rights, I have ended up in eviction court many times. So many, in fact, that I am now seen as a troublemaker, even though I have actually won many of my cases. Property owners and realty companies see me as an evil evil man.

sounds like its gonna be fun though 🙂 good luck to you and your crew!

tyrecian @ 02/27/08 22:20:43

We would like to see all the evidence of all the money that was spent and all the plans that were made and everything that had to do with the transfer of land; and all of their own assets and all of their interests they have in Bear Mountain and other resorts and other land and properties. We would like to get that all on the table

i…i love you Zoe

Number5Toad @ 02/28/08 01:09:01

I’m not a “protest organizer,” Bill – I’m a media contact. I send out the press releases and talk nicely to you when you phone. Please make a note of it.

Beautiful.

eepicheep @ 02/28/08 01:30:22

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Civil Disobedience Stops the Chainsaws

Sat, 16 Feb 2008

A small but spirited group put their freedom and safety on the line today to stop the work crews that are destroying rare ecosystems and First Nations sites on Vancouver Island.

About 40 people turned out at noon in Langford, BC and marched up the highway to view the destruction. Two dozen or so were inspired to scramble over the fresh-cut trees and stand in front of the yarders and excavators that were working. All four machines had to be shut down. The handful of police on the scene made no arrests and issued no warnings.

After stopping the machines, many of us made our way through the stumps and slash to Langford Lake Cave, which has a huge mass of rebar crisscrossed over the entrance like a drunken spider web. The second entrance has a triangular steel cap welded over it. The forest was cut down to within a few meters of the cave entrances.


Langford Lake Cave with rebar welded across it and drilled into the rock around the entrance. On Saturday, ferns and oregon grape leaves were placed in the grate at the four directions. (Photo: R. Bowen.)

We found the spot where the camp kitchen had stood, and we were able to salvage much of the food, camping gear, and personal belongings that were piled up and left on the site.

Without a medium-sized army of RCMP and special forces to back them up, the contractors had no choice but to give up and go home. The police forces withdrew on Friday evening, and one officer said the operation had required 300 personnel in rotating shifts on patrol, command and communications. We estimate the operation cost $5000 an hour for the 60 hours or so the officers were on the ground. The question of who is picking up the tab has not been answered.

We have raised the cost of aggressive development on the Island. If the greedy thugs want to force through this kind of horrific, destructive project, they will have to call in the army. Otherwise, we will stop them.

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Interchange Overkill: Tree Sit Busted Hard

Thu, 14 Feb 2008


Westshore RCMP and a municipal enforcement officer lead away activist Ingmar Lee and attempt to move another protester, who identified himself to media as Carl Stevens. Both were blocking a truck from entering the site of a controversial interchange development. Photo: Ray Smith, Victoria Times Colonist

Here is the bad news: Everyone in the tree sit camp was arrested today. Three people, including two tree sitters, are being held with charges pending. They may be released tomorrow. Everyone else was released without charge.

The massive attack by police had as many as 70 RCMP officers, dozens of them with assault rifles drawn and pointed at the campers, surrounding the camp before dawn.

The area is sealed off by police tape and RCMP patrols. Heavy equipment was moved in and the destruction has begun. From Leigh Road, we could see trees falling to a feller buncher – a giant tree cutting machine.

We also saw welding equipment being moved in behind police lines. It’s possible that one of the first acts of destruction today was welding shut the entrance of the Langford Lake Cave.

Here is the good news: It is not over yet. This act has outraged the community and people will not give up resisting this hideous development. We have arranged for top-notch legal representation for our defendants. They are heroes.

RCMP move in on anti-highway protest site

Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist

LANGFORD – In the false light of a pre-dawn Wednesday more than three dozen RCMP officers – some dressed in riot gear and carrying assault rifles – surrounded and rousted about a half dozen protesters from their camp in the woods between the Trans-Canada Highway and Leigh Road in Langford.

Some, told they’d be charged with mischief in they didn’t vacate, agreed to move. They were cuffed and moved out to Goldstream Avenue where they were released.

At least one and perhaps as many as three protesters, however, remained in their tree-top platforms while police blocked media and other access to the woods – stringing yellow tape along the highway and erecting saw-horse barricade at Leigh Road and Goldstream.

Protesters said people dressed in climbing gear were among those who stormed the protest camp, erected last April in opposition to the $32-million Bear Mountain interchange proposed by Langford.

They say the interchange not only feeds urban sprawl but threatens Spencer’s Pond, a cave and other karst features and an urban forest complete with culturally modified trees.

Protest organizer Ingmar Lee was arrested after he attempted to block a piece of logging equipment from entering the area.

Tree-sitter Kalanu Johnson, 34, decided to come down from a tree after an armed officer approached. “When I refused to come down I noticed one of the SWAT team guys closest to me was fiddling with his assault rifle and I got intimidated. When I asked them what all the weapons were for they just said they were police and they carried weapons,” Johnson said.

He estimated 50 to 60 police, equipped with a dog and a mobile command centre, accompanied by construction crews and equipment including a back-hoe and a feller buncher were involved in the raid.

“Just as the sun was about to come up they moved in and sort of spread out around the kitchen and up the hill surrounding the camp. After about 10 minutes there were about a dozen of them at the foot of the tree with assault rifles and beanbag shotguns and that sort of thing.”

Johnson who has been at the protest for about seven months said it’s been worth it.

“This is wrong on so many levels. People need to stand up against it whether we can stop it or not. People need to resist.”

Leena McGinn, 24, who has been at the protest off and on since the summer, was asleep in a teepee with her boyfriend when the raid happened.

“There were a lot of them. There was a whole SWAT team. They asked us to co-operate and we agreed. We were tired. We were cranky. They hand-cuffed us immediately.

“We asked if we were under arrest and they said: ‘No.’ They were detaining us.”

They agreed not to come back to the area and they were not charged with anything.

RCMP Const. Tasha Adams said police were acting on a complaint from the city of Langford of illegal camping.

She would not say how many police were involved but said the number was “significant obviously to ensure public safety; police officer safety.”

“Police moved in response to a complaint from the city of Langford – the complaint being an illegal campsite on their property. So the police moved in to ask those individuals on the site to vacate the land.”

Langford administrator Rob Buchan said the city filed its complaint with the RCMP after finalizing paperwork acquiring the last piece of land it needs for the interchange.

City contractors began work on the interchange on the north side of the highway even as the protesters were being removed from their camp deep on the other side.

“As soon as the site has been completely cleared, we’re beginning (work there as well).”

Buchan said there was no reason for the municipality to get a court injunction to remove the protesters.

“We’ve been trying to get access to do things on our property, property that we had a right to be on, for some time but we’ve been continually frustrated by the protesters,” he said.

“Yesterday we received the final bit of tenure for the last bit of land we needed to be an occupier for the entire property and that was sufficient for the RCMP to say: ‘You have the right to be on the land. They don’t. We can remove the protesters.’ “

Watch the video – part one is a news broadcast, part two is an interview with Saanich hereditary chief Eric Pelkey.

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Assplode Therapy

Sat, 26 Jan 2008

OK, so I’ve been having stomach problems. No big deal. But one of my friends, a rich, gay lawyer and alternative health guru, insisted on doing something about it. He turned me on to probiotic supplements, and for six months he’s been nagging me to try colon hydrotherapy.

What’s colon hydrotherapy? It’s like colonic irrigation. What’s that? Well, like an enema, only more. Much, much more.

I said no. No, thank you, no, I’m really not a fan of enemas. He said, you have to do it, the health benefits are incredible. I’ll even pay for it.

My friend wouldn’t take no for an answer. He paid the hydrotherapy clinic in advance for six sessions. At first I told myself, I’m not going to do this. Then I decided to call and just ask some questions. I spent a lot of time on the phone with the resident expert, explaining that I had serious reservations and I was only checking it out to please my friend. I wasn’t convinced the procedure wouldn’t do me harm, actually. Reading up on it, I found it could hurt people with ulcerative or inflammatory bowel disorders. But the doctor’s diagnosis ruled out those problems, and with my friend urging me on, I went ahead and reluctantly made an appointment.

That’s how I came to be lying on a hospital bed with a thick metal nozzle pumping warm water up my ass for three-quarters of an hour while Maggie, the attractive young woman holding the tube, made small talk about her trip to the cloud forest of Costa Rica. Occasionally she would pinch off the outflow hose, which was very uncomfortable, but it only lasted a minute. Otherwise, it wasn’t terribly unpleasant. It just felt like lying on a hospital bed with a warm and slightly pulsing metal tube up my ass.

After the first session, I felt great. Energized. Wonderful. So I set up the rest of the appointments.

The second time was a let down. I didn’t feel any better, and I had watery shit for a day afterward. Both times I was disappointed that hardly any stuff came out of me, after my friend’s graphic descriptions. The outflow tube is transparent and runs right next to the bed, so you can see what’s coming out. In my case, it was just water and bubbles.

Today, during the third session, I was cramping badly and finally asked to be let go. And then I did let go. Apparently a little chunk of shit – maybe a piece of corn or something – had been blocking the outflow tube. But as soon as the young woman removed the nozzle, the unforgiving laws of physics and fluid dynamics took over and I assploded all over the bed, the rubber mat, and finally the bathroom. I hadn’t taken off my socks and they were soiled as soon as my feet hit the floor. The stench was foul, like something long dead, which I guess it was. This was no ordinary shit. This was deep shit.

Maggie shrugged at the mess. “We see it all in here,” she chirped at my naked backside as I flung myself toward the toilet in the next room.

That’s the whole point of the treatment, she reminded me cheerfully through the closed door. It often doesn’t happen the first or second or even third session. It takes time to work everything loose.

Maggie had assured me from the start that there was nothing to be embarrassed about, people assplode all the time. Although she didn’t use that term, she called it “release.” I think they should just go ahead and re-name the procedure “assplode therapy.”

Walking out a half hour later, after washing my socks in the sink and using up all the Baby Wipes, I felt like I’d had a bowling ball removed from my belly – ten pounds lighter, ten years younger, and I’m sure an inch slimmer in the waist. Like dropping some heavy old baggage I was carrying so long I stopped noticing it. Like I could just pick up my feet and fly away.

I’m not making any medical recommendations about hydrotherapy here. Some folks insist it is a scam, and it can be even be deadly if the equipment isn’t sterile. It’s definitely expensive and I’m sure after the six sessions I’ll get a pitch about the need to do it twice a year for the rest of my life or more bad shit will pile up and choke the life out of me.

But I think it’s helping, along with the probiotics treatment and the doctor’s medicines and attention to diet and everything else. I was desperate enough to try it in spite of the risk and my aversion to having things shoved up my ass. I’ll go back for the rest of the sessions, but I’ll remember to take off my socks next time.

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Road Kill

Thu, 10 Jan 2008

New highway blocked by protesting “Raccoons”
The barricade at the end of the road is decorated with freshly-planted poinsettias in a mound of earth. Yellow plastic sunflowers, two graffitied TV sets and an oversize truck tire line a meter-wide trench just past the pavement’s end. They mark the boundary between the city and a protest camp occupied by a new generation of Canadian environmental protestors: the Raccoons.

The Raccoons are a ragtag mob of irregulars holding back a major highway interchange project designed to service Bear Mountain, a sprawling golf resort in Langford, just west of Victoria, B.C. A few dozen dumpster-diving, trash-talking, anti-authoritarians with a passion for undisturbed natural places have built a camp in the path of the new highway. The proposed interchange cuts through a pocket of forest packed with natural and cultural rarities: a sacred First Nations cave, a seasonal pond, garry oak meadows, arbutus bluffs, red-legged frogs and chocolate lilies.

Right now the Bear Mountain Tree Sit looks like a gloomy, swampy hobo camp, dotted with tents, tree forts at dizzying heights overhead, and a giant teepee covered with tarps. “A tarpee,” notes one of the campers.

“This is the only example of eco-anarchist action in Canada right now,” says Ingmar Lee, a Victoria environmentalist and camp supporter. “This is the grassroots, and it’s a totally different kind of protest.” Hundreds of people in the community directly support the camp with donations of food, camping gear, and funds for legal defense.

Almost all the Raccoons are under 25, and some are veterans of the Cathedral Grove treesit protest, which lasted two years and ultimately defeated a B.C. Parks plan to cut down giant trees to build a parking lot. Here, the first platform went up in April. Five more followed, and they are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Kicking the protest camp off public property is a sticky legal issue, and so far no one has moved to start a court case. But Stewart Young, the gung-ho pro-development mayor of Langford, is ramping up his criticism. The mayor’s rumblings peaked with Young accusing the campers of poaching deer and rabbits at the site.

Young said bylaw officers found a deer carcass near the camp in the woods. “We’ve respected their right to protest, but killing deer and rabbits is absolutely disgusting,” Young told the Goldstream News Gazette in December. The city directed the RCMP and conservation officers to investigate and lay charges if they find out who is responsible. No one has been charged.

Two neighbors who live adjacent to the forest said it’s not the campers who are killing animals. “There’s been poaching in this area for decades,” said an elderly neighbor on Goldstream Avenue who declined to give his name.

“We’ve called the conservation officers about deer carcasses a couple times a year ever since I’ve lived here,” said Ron Rayner, a long-time resident who lives just north of the camp and the TransCanada Highway. “It’s an ongoing problem.”

Langford resident Bob Partridge is “skeptical” about the mayor’s claims. He writes, “[J]ust now, as construction is supposed to begin on the Spencer Road Interchange, the protesters/activists who have previously been requesting donations of whole grains, have apparently suddenly become carnivores, slaughtering innocent animals in the woods of Langford?”

“Are we certain they are also not sleeping on duvets stuffed with spotted owl feathers?” Partridge asked sarcastically.

Some of the campers admit they eat deer, rabbits and even raccoons – but they insist they are not hunting . The meat is road kill collected from the TransCanada Highway, one tree sitter told A Channel News. Another pointed out the hypocrisy of building a highway that will mangle more animals, while simultaneously trying to cast the environmentalists as bunny killers. A third wondered aloud if Stewart Young was vegan.

RCMP and bylaw enforcement officers tell us the Raccoons are “guests of the city of Langford,” and they even allow them to have a campfire without a permit. Back in April, Young huffed to reporters, “They are on provincial land right now and it’s going to be a year or so before we get to the point of having to go there, so they can sit there as long as they want.” The protestors took him at his word and set up a kitchen, where they cook raccoon stew, venison steaks, and bunny burgers.

No doubt the tree sit gives Young a royal pain in the ass, but the blustery mayor has bigger fish to fry. Langford City Council, in a “special” meeting convened two days after Christmas, made the unusual move of adopting two new bylaws, rather than just giving them first reading. One bylaw authorizes borrowing $25 million to build the interchange, while the second exempts the process from the usual counter-petition process, which normally would give citizens the right to challenge a decision.

The community’s response is a roar of outrage. Many residents of Langford, it seems, are more irate about the apparent abuse of process than about the imminent loss of green space, wetlands, and rare species. Dozens of volunteers are joining forces to canvass the city with a (non-binding) petition to reject the bylaws.

Steven Hurdle of Langford is organizing the petition drive. “While Langford may have found a legal loophole in declaring the interchange a ‘Local Service Area’ to let them avoid the referendum, we can still win the political war,” he writes. “Langford council might find this an albatross that’s unexpectedly hanging around their neck as this issue drags on.”

Back at the camp, tree sitters and visitors are critiquing the City of Langford’s annual levee tour. Every New Year’s, politicos across the region open up their offices to the public, with free booze and food for all.

Well, not quite all. “They only had bag lunches for like 25 people,” one complains. “I got there at the end and there was no more food. So I took all the tea bags that were left.”

Another camper pipes up, “That punch was weak.”

“Yeah, the punch was watered down, so we had to drink more of it to get a buzz.”

“Yeah, that’s why we brought our own cups. We did it up proper with the cups.”

“We asked if we could take their poinsettias with us, but they said no. ”

Laughter. “We kept asking and we wouldn’t leave. Then after a while, they gave us the poinsettias just so we would leave.”

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The Saddest Pagan in the World

Tue, 25 Dec 2007

Singing the blues in Langford. Photo by Pete Rockwell.

Along with all the other shit that went down this past month, I got hit with the stomach flu, and that triggered fresh spasms of health problems. I’m on drugs now, but they’re not fun drugs. At least I don’t have to worry about getting fat.

The local paper has publicly labeled the Bear Mountain tree sit crew as tree-spikers, vandals, welfare bums, poachers, and outside agitators. The RCMP and city enforcement officers stepped up their harassment this week after the forest defenders dug a trench and built a barricade across the access road at the site of the new highway bypass.

The campers are in high spirits. Six platforms are now occupied by brave souls who are risking their freedom to protect the Langford Lake Cave, Spencer’s Pond, the wetlands, the screech owls, great horned owls, red-legged frogs and arbutus trees. Supporters and volunteers bring food, blankets, and cash donations. The legal defense fund is swollen with contributions as we brace for the inevitable court battle.

Physical and emotional distress have been keeping me away from the camp for long periods. But Saturday night, I was hanging out in the forest, watching low clouds fly across the face of the nearly-full moon, when the shout came from the road. Three RCMP cruisers pulled up at high speed, the lead car braking too late to avoid plunging partway into the trench at the end of the road. The headlights came straight at us, and then dipped down sharply. I thought, “Oh shit, they’re gonna be pissed.”

They were. I ducked behind the welcome tent as the officers stormed into the camp. “You’re all under arrest,” the biggest one boomed out, shining a high-powered light at the four young men in front of him. I hit the dirt, face down in the wet leaves and low brush right behind the tent.

Shouts, running feet pounding down the trail, and the rest of the crew booked it into the woods. “Don’t move!” barked the officer at the four standing their ground. “Everyone’s under arrest.” To another officer: “Take that crap down.” The second officer grabbed the makeshift tent and began to tear its tarp roof from the log beams. A few feet away, I cowered down closer to the ground, barely breathing. The lights shone back and forth, up and down.

Then my cell phone rang. I scrambled to shut it off. All the beams turned in my direction. “What’s that?” barked the officer. “Go check it out.” I melded with the mud and wet leaves at the base of a scrawny dogwood. The lights came closer. Then a shout from the woods pulled them away again.

I was plotting my chances of escape, so I could call the lawyers and bail the tree people out of jail. But there was no need. The cops held the men for half an hour, took their names and gave a lecture. No camping on the roadway. Then everyone was released.

Now I’m back home in the old farmhouse that I share with three other people and assorted visitors camping out on the living room couches. But there is only one bathroom. I keep a bucket with a tight-fitting lid in the bedroom, since my gut rot won’t let me wait around for a vacancy. The room is lovely, with a high ceiling and bay windows, and right now it stinks of shit and incense.

Thanks to the gastritis, the stomach flu, the stress and everything else, my immune system is shot to hell. My sinuses are oozing bright yellow snot and I’m woozy from fever. I’m broke and in debt.

It was obvious that there would be no Christmas for me this year.

But late last night, I heard a commotion on the porch. My friend Rose Henry was knocking on the door. “Merry Christmas,” she said. The man behind her was lugging a hamper filled with mandarin oranges, cranberry sauce, canned veggies, pasta, stuffing mix, candy, and even toilet paper. I almost cried.

One of the roommates got a turkey, and he’s invited a couple friends over for an orphans’ Christmas tonight. I’m making the stuffing.

It makes me think — even the saddest pagan in the world might find happiness at Christmas.

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Tree Sit Braces for a Showdown

Sun, 16 Dec 2007

From Infoshop.org and our December 15 press release.


Rally against the interchange, December 8, 2007. (Photos by Pete)

Bear Mountain Tree Sitters Bracing for a Showdown

Since April 2007, people have been occupying a large piece of land in Langford, British Columbia, Canada in order to stop the construction of a four-lane cloverleaf interchange. The interchange is being built to service the recent Bear Mountain developments (golf course, luxury homes, etc.). The land that is to be used for the road construction includes many culturally and ecologically sensitive sites including a large garry oak ecosystem, a sacred cave, a pond, and culturally modified trees. People have been resisting the Bear Mountain developments for some time, but the city of Langford and the developers have been plowing forward with their plans.

A series of visits from RCMP and Langford bylaw enforcement officers in the past few days has put the campers on high alert. On Friday, December 14, police walked into the camp and took photographs of everyone they saw. Bylaw enforcement officers also photographed people and the camp. Work crews removed two banners on Highway 1 Friday afternoon, and police threatened to arrest the campers if they interfered. A new banner was raised Friday evening.

The city is expected to demand a court order to remove the campers so interchange construction can begin. As of Friday, volunteers had raised five platforms to the tops of the trees, up to 120 feet (40 meters) off the ground, in an effort to stop the project so that environmental and cultural values can be protected. Another platform is set to be raised on Saturday, December 15.

In April, a loosely-organized group established a camp in the woods to protect the wetlands, forest, cave, and wildlife from the development. The area around Spencer’s Pond and the Langford Lake Cave at the north end of Leigh Road is valued by local residents as a park and green space. The new interchange is likely to decimate the cave, the pond, the underground geology and the diverse wildlife in the area.

Volunteers have conducted their own survey of the flora and fauna in the path of the new highway project. Some of the results are online at the Treesit Blog, along with maps, photos, background and links for more information.

Rose Henry (centre) speaks to the crowd about indigenous rights.

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