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.