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Small Victories

Afternoon at the tree sit

September 19, 2008

For almost two years, we’ve documented and publicized the impact of resort development on wetlands, rare species, watercourses, recreation sites and First Nations heritage. As a result, land-use decisions on southern Vancouver Island, BC face greater demands for due diligence on environmental preservation and democratic accountability, among other long-term effects of the campaign. The fallout is still coming down on the interchange, First Nations sites, and future resort development.

In August, Langford residents reported on changes to the city’s plans for the Bear Mountain Interchange (also known as the Spencer Road Interchange). Construction of the interchange connecting the Trans Canada Highway and Bear Mountain Resort commenced and then stalled for lack of funding. The project is now going forward (with TD Bank’s funding, which has angered many), but it appears to be scaled back drastically. The overpass will be built, but cloverleaf on-ramps are on hold until the second phase of construction, beginning at an unknown date in the future. It is still possible that some of the groves of Garry Oaks and wetland habitat for Red-Legged Frogs may be spared, depending on the municipality’s future direction on environmental policy.

It seems clear that well-documented public outrage, coupled with financial agencies’ concerns about Langford’s process and diligence, contributed to the downsizing of the interchange.

Meanwhile, a movement to strengthen First Nations heritage protection has led to a historic agreement in the Gulf Islands. The agreement may eventually extend to places like Langford, where Bear Mountain development and interchange construction irreparably damaged Langford Lake Cave and Spaet Cave, despite legislation and government agencies dedicated to preserving cultural sites. The loss of the two caves and nearby indigenous burial grounds shocked the conscience of the community and especially angered First Nations people across British Columbia.

Now, according to the Victoria Times Colonist:

The Islands Trust council has approved in principle a protocol developed with the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group that goes far beyond the protections offered in the provincial Heritage Conservation Act and could become a template for similar agreements all over B.C., according to archeologist Eric McLay.

The protocol creates a consultation and dispute-resolution framework and will allow the Hul’qumi’num to designate “spiritual places” not protected by provincial legislation.

Such an agreement could have prevented the destruction of spirit caves at Bear Mountain resort.

Our report The Langford Rebellion recounts how municipal plans to pave over the caves and heritage sites triggered a groundswell of criticism that grew to include a wide range of other public policy and environmental issues.

We have done much more than shine a light on conservation concerns. We have contributed to public policy changes that will reverberate far beyond Langford for many years to come. Thank you for speaking out, and stay strong – there is so much more to do!

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Dirt in the Public Eye

Thomas at job fair

Thomas Malenfant (center) interfering with Canadian Armed Forces recruiters at the University of Victoria earlier this year.

August 16, 2008

The Beijing Olympics are in full swing, and Vancouver is warming up for the 2010 Winter Games. Local activists warn that along with the coming crackdown on street people (and everyone else), we should get ready for intrusive security, surveillance and pre-emptive detentions. Meanwhile, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and folks in BC are showing off their anti-Olympic spirit.

Last week, I took a call from Public Eye Online editor Sean Holman about the upcoming Wild Earth eco-conference in Bella Coola. Holman suggested it wasn’t “appropriate” to invite anti-poverty activist Thomas Malenfant to host a workshop on Resisting the Olympics at a gathering focused on discussing non-violent activism.

Referring to Malenfant’s arrest last year for symbolically evicting the Premier from his Vancouver office, Holman asked why a “convicted criminal” was on the schedule for Wild Earth.

I reminded him that a convicted criminal is running the province. Premier Gordon Campbell was convicted two years ago of drunk driving while on vacation in Maui. So I had to ask Holman what kind of double standard he is trying to invoke?

Malenfant’s actions at Gordon Campbell’s office stemmed from the principle of holding government officials to account when they ignore the public interest — in this case, the crisis of homelessness. He will be discussing that principle and much more at the week-long campout August 25-31.

Malenfant notes that Vancouver police officers don’t always act within the law, but they get a free pass from Holman and others in the media.

“The Vancouver Police Department carries out far more vulgar illegal evictions on a monthly basis as part of their committment to social cleansing in the lead-up to the Olympic games,” Malenfant says. “The difference here that makes what I did ‘criminal’ is that it was in a West End office instead of an east side apartment and we weren’t wearing uniforms.”

Holman’s article went on to smear Malenfant’s motives. Holman quotes two other reporters who quote VPD Constable Howard Chow saying, “These aren’t activists, they’re not protesters, these are people intent on coming to events, to offices, to people’s residences, and they’re intent on breaking the law.”

Excuse me, but who granted Chow the power to discern who is an activist? It’s obvious that Malenfant’s actions were political. What does Chow hope to gain by pretending otherwise? It seems that the local police are nervous about social and environmental justice advocates joining forces at Wild Earth. Native and non-native activists are also finding common cause at the gathering. Police officers and certain journalists may try to slam the conference and its presenters, but as long as the government remains blind to injustice and inequality, people like Thomas Malenfant will keep ramping up the pressure on the officials responsible.

I should really be thanking Holman for the free publicity. We couldn’t buy that kind of placement on BC’s most prominent political blog. Not to mention the coverage of my snappy response (scroll down) that ran the following week.

So hey, corporate journalists – bring on the controversy! Sure, most of you are assholes, but if you bring me a pony, I’ll go for a ride.

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The Langford Rebellion

Cover photojpg
Bear Mountain. Photo: Karen Wonders

July 15, 2008

For a couple months, I’ve been grinding away on a collaborative project about the Vancouver Island resort development that destroyed two sacred caves and divided a community.

Those who have been following this blog may remember some of the highlights of the Bear Mountain campaign. Back in February, the city of Langford deployed as many as 300 Mounties with assault rifles and dogs to evict a handful of tree-sitters. It was brutal – but fortunately, the charges against our friends were dropped, and the mayor’s threats to sue me (and everyone else who tried to defend the area) never materialized.

We’re still half-expecting to get served, though! Last week, after hundreds of hours of research and editing, we finally released The Langford Rebellion: Public Opinion, Development, and Bear Mountain. The report is based on over 800 public comments and letters to the editor. Many stated that people in Langford are tired of being bullied by an aggressively pro-development council. A couple excerpts:

Langford’s reluctance to engage in discourse or acknowledge complaints has been noted by many residents. Municipal officials’ ability to threaten and insult their challengers was on display throughout the controversy, with no apologies.

Langford’s mayor and council have amassed a formidable history of dismissing questions, complaints, and petitions from the public. Their policies and statements were seen by many as self-contradicting and self-serving. And when Langford finally did launch a public relations initiative to defend the interchange, it chose the time-honoured but alienating strategy of maligning the opposition.

True to form, as soon as the report was out, deputy mayor Denise Blackwell labeled it a load of rubbish and suggested it was “not truthful.” (Since Blackwell had not yet read the report, we should note she wasn’t merely being malicious – she was also plain ignorant.)

The 46-page report is a fast and fascinating read, with 16 pages of commentary from people on all sides of the issue — local environmentalists, tradespeople, schoolchildren, seniors, and government officials. A narrative of events, eight pages of political analysis, and a news index provide a thoroughly-researched picture of the sprawling resort and its impact on the community. A Langford blogger gives the report two thumbs up and favourably compares it to the CBC documentary “Canada: A People’s History.”

Read or download The Langford Rebellion

Read more about forest defense on Vancouver Island.

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The Paper Monkeywrench

Office door

Launching the Bear Mountain boycott at Bear Mountain’s sales office in Langford. Photo: Pete Rockwell

April 16, 2008

Stew Young, the blustery mayor of Langford, BC, hates to hear the word “no.” When the Municipal Finance Authority declined to finance his pet project, a controversial and environmentally destructive highway interchange, he was furious. Now the city is trying to get the cash from TD Bank (formerly Toronto Dominion.) Not only that, but the city is pulling all its accounts from the provincial authority and seeking to transfer them to the private bank.

Stew makes it sound like a done deal, but that’s because he hasn’t felt the full force of the paper monkeywrench. TD Bank knows what I’m talking about, though. Rainforest Action Network has been pressuring the bank for ten years to stop funding environmentally destructive projects. “TD Destroys Rainforests” was the rallying cry. They plastered stickers on ATM machines and picketed at AGMs. Six months ago, the bank gave in and signed a comprehensive Environmental Policy and Environmental Management Framework endorsed by RAN and ForestEthics.

So, what are the odds the bank will go ahead and fund the Bear Mountain Interchange, given this history and the horrific damage the project is already inflicting on rare species and sacred caves and the landslide of bad publicity the Bear Mountain Resort gets every week? Anyone want to make a bet?

Below is some background from today’s Times Colonist, followed by my letter to TD Bank’s Enviromental Affairs manager.

Langford Pulls Plug on Municipal Finance Authority

Still smarting from what Langford Mayor Stew Young calls “appalling” treatment from the Municipal Finance Authority, Langford has refinanced its existing $11.4-million municipal debt with the MFA, placing it instead with a chartered bank.

Langford had sought permission to borrow up to $25 million on behalf of five developers in connection with the interchange under construction near Spencer Road at the Trans-Canada Highway. The proposed move sparked a mock counter-petition protest that gathered more than 2,250 signatures of Langford residents who believed they should have been consulted.

The plan was for the municipality to borrow the money from the MFA at a preferred rate, with the loan guaranteed through the developers’ property in the area, worth about $135 million. But when the province asked the MFA to comment on the proposed borrowing, the MFA said it would categorize the loan as “non-traditional” and would want a letter of credit from the developers — something that would push up borrowing costs.

That incensed Young.

“When you look at it from a bank’s point of view, I’m a customer. When you look at it from the MFA’s point of view, I’m a customer. Who craps on their customer?”

City Council voted last week to take their business to TD Bank – as usual, without consulting anyone else. It’s worth noting this council faces re-election in November. Anyone want to give odds that they’ll survive?

The Paper Monkeywrench (or Full Disclosure in the Public Interest)

Lillian Ranalli

Senior Manager, Corporate Environmental Affairs

Government and Community Relations

TD Bank Financial Group

66 Wellington Street West, 10th floor

Toronto, ON M5K 1A2

April 15, 2008

Dear Ms. Ranalli,

We are writing to advise you on the environmental and social risks of approving a credit application by the City of Langford on behalf of Bear Mountain developers and the proposed Spencer Road Interchange (also known as Bear Mountain Interchange.)

We would like to commend TD Bank on its community-based environmental initiatives, and for committing to “take reasonable care to prevent or avoid environmental incidents associated with our operations.” Due to mounting public concern over loss of First Nations cultural sites and environmental degradation in Langford, we are obliged to disclose that the interchange project contradicts many of TD Bank’s commitments as outlined in its Environmental Policy and Environmental Management Framework. Therefore, we strongly recommend that TD Bank implement enhanced due diligence when assessing the Langford application.

We ask you to consider the following risks and liabilities inherent in this project.

· The interchange project is wiping out irreplaceable First Nations heritage sites. The highway interchange will damage or destroy a significant cave used by First Nations for hundreds of generations. A second sacred cave was demolished at Bear Mountain Resort last year.

· Interchange construction is already eradicating endangered ecosystems and vulnerable species. Chainsaws and bulldozers have leveled several groves of Garry Oaks, which represent the rarest ecosystem in Canada, and degraded pond habitat for Red-Legged Frogs, a federal and provincial Species at Risk.

· Litigation to address First Nations rights and remediate environmental damage is under consideration. Court-ordered environmental remediation could potentially cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

· Langford’s proposal to borrow money for the project is strongly opposed by over two thousand Langford voters and by the majority of Vancouver Island residents. The city has exempted the loan from the usual referendum vote.

· The financing request was previously rejected by the Municipal Finance Authority, which noted the irregularity of the city acting on behalf of private developers and also expressed concern about financial risk and credit capacity.

First Nations sites destroyed

The destruction of the Spaet Cave has ruptured relationships with First Nations. The area of Spaet (Skirt) Mountain is a shared place for ritual going back hundreds of generations. The Tsartlip First Nation, one of the bands with a claim and treaty rights to the area, has been shut out of negotiations with the province and the developer. Two neighbouring bands signed an agreement to allow construction on the mountaintop to proceed in exchange for compensation. Meanwhile, the Tsartlip First Nation rejected the deal, and was subsequently – and illegally – locked out of official meetings. (“Tsartlip veto Skirt Mtn. cave deal,” Times Colonist, Dec. 20, 2006). The only remaining remedy is a potentially costly and disruptive court battle.

After the agreement was signed, the cave was demolished. The underground pool was drained and the cavern was filled with truck tires and stumps while blasting took place. The roof of the cave was removed and the surrounding area bulldozed. The stumps and tires were later removed but the cave was never rebuilt.

A second cave, also identified as a shared cultural site for local bands, is located in the path of the Bear Mountain Interchange near the Trans-Canada Highway. It has been permanently damaged by the blasting and excavation splitting open underground caverns connected to the main cave. The City of Langford promised to “protect” the cave, but instead city workers drilled and welded a rebar grate over the entrance and piled tons of broken rock on top of the rebar earlier this year. The cave is no longer useable by speleologists (cave experts), First Nations, local schoolchildren and recreationists. The closing of the cave precluded any assessment by the provincial Archaeology Branch, which has failed to act in keeping with BC’s Heritage Conservation Act to protect First Nations sites. Village sites excavated along the Bear Mountain Parkway were also destroyed without any assessment or oversight. (See attached article, “Heritage Conservation Act or Heritage Destruction Act?” and press release.)

The geology of the interchange area is dominated by karst, a limestone-based rock characterized by underground watercourses and caverns. Experts warn that blasting in karst areas without proper assessments can cause widespread contamination through underground channels. Karst areas may also be subject to sinkholes and collapses, especially when aquifers are altered. The interchange site is literally on shaky ground, and yet the city has failed in its due diligence and carried out no karst assessments.

Environmental damage

At the site of the Bear Mountain Interchange, the project is moving forward with little regard for mitigating environmental damage . Construction has proceeded without formal approvals for watercourse diversions from BC’s Ministry of the Environment. Runoff from bulldozed and excavated watercourses at the site has contaminated wetlands and nearby Spencer’s Pond. At the time of writing, mud and silt are suffocating Pacific Tree Frogs and Red-Legged Frogs, a provincially and federally-listed Species at Risk. (“Work Begins, Permits be Damned,” Monday Magazine, March 19 2007.)

Downstream from the construction zone at Bear Mountain Resort, an unidentified orange sludge is leaching into Florence Lake. (See attached photos.) A mass die-off of amphibians in the lake has been observed, coinciding with the the start of construction 18 months ago and the first appearance of the sludge. Preliminary lab tests of the sludge show the substance contains 1000 times the background level of manganese, as well as elevated levels of barium and cobalt. (Enkon Environmental report, February 2007. 2008 results pending.) The results are consistent with the drilling fluid often used in mass quantities for rock drilling and road construction. If, as we believe, the underground water channels are contaminated with drilling mud, the sludge will continue to seep into local creeks and lakes for years to come. Clean up and remediation of underground sites may be technically feasible but it would be prohibitively expensive. And yet, the only recourse for landowners affected by the runoff may be to seek a court order demanding such remediation. (See attached legal letter to the city of Langford.)

Residents are calling for a halt before the further damage occurs. They demand a moratorium on development at least until water diversion permits and mitigation measures are in place.

Public opinion and publicity

The interchange project faces widespread community opposition in the City of Langford and across Vancouver Island. Much of the controversy is fueled by the fact that Langford’s aggressively pro-development council has sidestepped the usual voter referendum on capital projects. BC’s Local Governance Act gives municipalities a great deal of latitude in development and finance decisions, and in this case, Langford designated the highway project part of a Local Service Area agreement, which required only the consent of the developers. Over 2250 local residents signed a petition demanding the city put the interchange loan to a vote. Langford dismissed the petition and one councillor suggested voters did not understand what they were signing. (“Blackwell Balks at Petition Result,” Monday Magazine, Feb. 13 2008.)

News stories about the interchange, Langford City Council, and protestors have dominated local and regional television reports and news radio for weeks at a time. More than a hundred stories and letters appeared in Victoria’s newspapers and journals in February and March 2008. The Globe and Mail and the Report on Business have recently published unflattering reports of environmental damage and the First Nations blockade. (See “The Bull and the Bear,” Report on Business, March 28 2008.) Public awareness about problems with the interchange has reached hundreds of thousands of consumers, and web polls show the majority opinion is at least two to one against the interchange. (“Do you support the construction of the Bear Mountain interchange?” CFAX poll, Jan. 12, 2008.)

“Non-traditional” financing

Normally, city road-building projects are funded by the Municipal Finance Authority. In this case, the City of Langford acknowledges that the road primarily benefits the Bear Mountain Resort, a private company. The city is applying for credit on behalf of the developers. This has led to a widespread perception that Langford is improperly conferring a benefit on a corporation, a charge that Langford mayor Stew Young denies. Observers note that building permits and variances in Langford are routinely granted by council in as little as 48 hours, allowing no time for public input or due diligence.

The MFA found cause for concern in Langford’s initial loan application earlier this year. It considered the application to be “non-traditional” since it was backed by five developers and not by public funds. In order to protect its triple-A credit rating, the agency said it would require a letter of credit from the developers and that additional costs would apply, and also noted the terms of the loan would come close to maxing out the municipality’s credit limit. (MFA president Frank Leonard, as quoted in the Victoria Times Colonist, March 19, 2008.)

Langford council then abandoned its funding application to the MFA, declaring it would seek better terms from a bank. On Monday, April 7, 2008, Langford council instructed staff to prepare an application to TD Bank for $9.75 million in interchange financing, plus a request to transfer $11,414,000 in interim financing for sewers, trails, and land purchases to TD Bank © an unprecedented move in our district. (City of Langford staff report, April 7, 2008.)

Dialogue

We are aware that TD Bank is changing its public image to reflect its new Environmental Policy and Framework for Environmental Management. We would prefer a private dialogue with decision-makers, although our time-frame is very short as construction grinds on through sensitive ecosystems. For that reason, we request a response within two weeks of receiving this advisory.

We ask that you carefully review the enclosed documents relating to First Nations cultural sites, environmental liability, and geological rarities in the area. Local experts on First Nations traditions, archeology, caves, geology, and endangered species are available for consultation. We encourage TD Bank to take the necessary steps to fully review the risks and liabilities associated with Langford’s loan request, and we will provide as much information as needed to facilitate your assessments.

Thank you very much for you time and attention, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely yours,

Zoe Blunt

Zoe Blunt, Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network

cc: W. Edmund Clark President and CEO, TD Bank Financial Group
Mark Newman. Managing Director, Credit Process Review Group
Scott Mullin, Vice President, Government and Community Relations

Attachments:

Save SPAET Our Sacred Mountain, online petition

Cheryl Bryce: “Heritage Conservation Act or Heritage Destruction Act?”

Adrian Duncan: “City of Langford – Spencer Road Interchange,” BC Speleological Federation

Adolf Ceska: “Environmental review missed many rare plants”

Robin Gage: Legal letter to Langford City Council

Lyle Jenish: “The Bull and the Bear,” Report on Business, March 28, 2008.

Jason Youmans: “Blackwell Balks at Petition Results,” Monday Magazine, Feb. 13, 2008

Bill Cleverley: “ Loan plan for interchange abandoned,” Times Colonist, March 13 2008.

Photo of orange sludge, March 2008

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The Bull of Bear Mountain

Ride along with Len Barrie in his white Cadillac Escalade SUV as the Vancouver Island mega-developer puts the hammer down on First Nations, environmentalists, and local government. Required reading.

The Bull and the Bear

Lyle Jenish
Report on Business Magazine
Globe and Mail, March 28, 2008

In his quest to build the massive Bear Mountain resort—the largest planned development in Vancouver Island history—former NHLer Len Barrie has elbowed past the opposition. He’s also made a mountain of money for his investors, including an all-star roster of his hockey pals.

Even six years after retiring from the NHL, Len Barrie still sports the hockey do—his shaggy blond hair is just long enough to peek out from under the back of a helmet. And though he’s now the developer behind the largest planned community in Western Canada, he still has a fondness for locker-room couture: Barrie strolls into his regular Tuesday meeting on a recent morning in flip-flops, cargo shorts and a Lululemon T-shirt, his hair still wet from a post-workout shower.

As he takes his place at the head of the table, he exchanges barbs with his lieutenants.

“We dug up a bunch of arrowheads for you,” one engineer shoots back.

Then it’s down to business. As Barrie slumps in his chair, Les Bjola, his development manager and de facto deputy, launches into an update of a proposed interchange for the Trans-Canada Highway that will lead to Barrie’s Whistler-esque Bear Mountain resort, 20 minutes northwest of Victoria. The company is waiting on an environmental and archeological assessment that will determine whether the new road is feasible—there’s concern it will upset the local ecology and plow through sacred First Nations sites (hence the arrowhead jab). To protest the proposed new interchange, activists have been occupying tree-borne platforms along the route since April, 2007.

This is just the latest showdown in Bear Mountain’s six-year history. When it’s finally complete, Barrie’s $2.4-billion complex will encompass 1,300 acres and include more than 5,000 residential units (a mix of single-family homes, condos and townhouses), more than 600,000 square feet of commercial space, plus two golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus.

So far, the former NHLer — and the project’s majority shareholder — has sold more than half a billion dollars worth of real estate. (Residential prices range from $250,000 for a 5,500-square-foot lot to $2.5 million for a two-acre estate, sans house.) Meanwhile, Bear Mountain Village is filling up with bars, restaurants and hotels. The winding approach to the 156-room Westin Bear Mountain Victoria Golf Resort & Spa is lined with a high-end sushi bar, the Jack’s Place pub (named in honour of Nicklaus), the as-yet-to-be-completed Bear Mountain Village Market, and a spindly collection of construction cranes.

All of which makes Barrie’s investors, including a roster of NHL players past and present, very happy (they’ve put $230 million into the project). “It’s the most audacious development on Vancouver Island,” says builder Fraser McColl. “I mean, how can you not be impressed by what has happened?” McColl, who moved to Bear Mountain during the early development phase, is building the Stonehaven, a four-storey condo complex on the Mountain golf course. “Most people love it or hate it,” he says. As for Barrie himself, McColl has this to say: “Obviously Len is the guiding spirit, and no one else could have pulled off what he has. Most people thought it would never happen. Give Barrie credit: He didn’t listen to anyone else.”

To his fans, Barrie is among the vanguard of Western Canada’s brash and belligerent new bourgeoisie: Success is the only option; opposition be damned. To his opponents, he’s the Beelzebub of Bear Mountain, a man bent on laying waste to the island’s pristine wilderness, spreading the brimstone of condos, fairways and big-box plazas.

“The bear has come over the mountain, and look what he has done,” says Vicky Husband, the grande dame of Canada’s conservation movement and a 40-year resident of the tiny Highlands district into which Bear Mountain is expanding. Husband says Barrie has stopped at nothing to move the development forward. “It has split the community asunder,” she says.

This is not the only developer-versus-conservationist battle that’s being waged in B.C., but it’s by far the largest. Since 2002, when Barrie started knocking down trees in the hills northwest of Victoria, he has enraged environmentalists, town councillors, local residents and aboriginal groups—and done it with a certain amount of glee. “What you see is what you get,” says Barrie. “I call a spade a spade, and if you don’t like it, who cares? I have lots of friends.”

Now, Barrie is embarking on his second project. In mid-2007, he paid $2.1 million for a chunk of oceanfront property (including a marina) near Mill Bay, 40 kilometres north of Victoria. “The Victoria International Airport is right across the Saanich Inlet,” says Barrie, standing on the pebbly foreshore of Mill Bay, pointing east. “We’ll also expand the marina, which means Americans can dock here and easily fly out.”

The transformation of this leafy hillside sprinkled with dowdy houses into a hopping condo development is bound to cause trouble—especially if Barrie uses the same tactics he took to Bear Mountain. “Generally, a business must look out for its shareholders,” says Bob McMinn, a Highlands resident and one of Barrie’s most vocal opponents. “They do this with the soft soap or with the hammer. Bear Mountain brought the hammer.”

Read the rest here.
(Four more pages)

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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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