I happened to be in Ladysmith on 15 May 2020 when I came across a new Tent Site under construction on a vacant lot owned by the City of Ladysmith across from 11 Buller Street in downtown Ladysmith.
I noticed that Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples was present and apparently involved in the construction so I took some photographs of the site.
Here are some of the photos I took of the Buller Street Tent Site construction on 15 May 2020:
Here is a map showing the location of the Tent Site across from 11 Buller Street:
As I was taking these photos I was approached by Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone who wanted to know who I was and why I was taking photographs. Mayor Stone said that publishing photographs showing the faces of workers erecting the tent site would expose these workers to “aggressive actions” although he didn’t elaborate on who would initiate these “aggressive actions” or why these “aggressive actions” would be undertaken.
Here is a sort video on the One Cowichan YouTube channel of Jane Kilthei of One Cowichan and Cara Pike of Climate Access responding to my question about what a Climate Emergency Declaration actually entails and what One Cowichan expects local governments to actually do after passing a Climate Change Emergency Declaration.
It should be noted that the Mayor of Duncan, Michelle Staples, and at least two City of Duncan Councillors – Jenni Capps and Stacey Middlemiss – are members of One Cowichan, although they were not at the meeting at Duncan United Church on 22 July.
Several Municipality of North Cowichan Councillors – including Kate Marsh, Christopher Justice and Rosalie Sawrie – are also members of One Cowichan and were present at Duncan United Church for the One Cowichan meeting on 22 July.
Cara Pike of Climate Access referred to Vancouver’s Six Big Moves. Here are some articles about the City of Vancouver’s “Six Big Moves”:
We contacted Island Health on 25 April 2019 and asked for clarification of this Overdoes Advisory.
Our initial question was: “When you say “increase in overdoses” what are the actual figures? How many in the past week compared to whatever benchmark figure(s) you are using in comparison?”
Island Health responded within a few hours, saying: “Thank you for your question. During the week of Apr.14-20, there were 12 overdoses at the Cowichan OPS, which is more than double this site’s moving average (3.4 overdoses each week).”
She also voted in favour of Resolution 26, proposed by the City of Victoria:
“Safer Drug Supply to Save Lives [proposed by the City of Victoria]
WHEREAS It has been two years since B.C. declared a public-health emergency due to increased overdoses, yet the death toll for those consuming substances continues to rise due to an unpredictable and highly-toxic drug supply;
AND WHEREAS people with opioid use disorder, a chronic relapsing medical condition, are at high risk overdose-related harms including death and an estimated 42,200 people inject toxic substances in British Columbia, it is not possible for the treatment system to rapidly increase services fast enough to manage this number of people as “patients” within a medical treatment model given the many challenges in achieving and retaining the people on opioid use disorder treatment, people at risk of overdose in British Columbia do not have access to a safer alternative to the unpredictable, highly toxic drug supply:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that in an effort to save lives and reduce harm due to an unpredictable and highly-toxic drug supply, and as part of a holistic response to the public-health emergency, including prevention, treatment, and recovery, that the Province of British Columbia work with local communities, Health Authorities across the Province, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and the Ministry of Health ensure that people at risk of overdose harm have access to safer alternatives.
Resolutions Committee recommendation: No Recommendation
Resolutions Committee comments:
The Resolutions Committee advises that while the UBCM membership has previously endorsed
resolutions calling for action by the provincial and federal governments to address overdose-related
harms, the membership has not previously considered a resolution asking the provincial government
to work specifically with local communities to ensure that people at risk of overdose harm have access
to safer alternatives.
On the issue of overdose, the membership has previously endorsed resolutions requesting publicly
available, anonymized, opioid prescription rates, by community (2018-B170), a comprehensive and
culturally safe public health approach to the opioid crisis (2018-B142, 2017-B71). ”
Our Comments: We have some major reservations about Resolution 26 because it is unclear what it means.
Are the City of Victoria and AVICC advocating giving pharmaceutical grade heroin to addicts through prescriptions? If that is the case, we think that will lead to a Cowichan Valley replication of the situation described in the video Seattle Is Dying, which we have posted on this website. We definitely cannot support that scenario or that policy.
Or, does Resolution 26 mean a program like the Rhode Island program described at the end of the Seattle Is Dying video? The Rhode Island program involves putting addicts on heroin replacements like Methadone and it is a program we could support if implemented in B.C.
We cannot say more at this time because Resolution 26, as written, is totally unclear about what a Safer Drug Supply to Save Lives program would look like.
Until clarification is provided, we reserve judgement on this proposal and Resolution. But we will oppose any effort to supply heroin addicts with pharmaceutical grade heroin by prescription if that is, in fact, what this Resolution entails.
Here is the video Seattle Is Dying, which we have posted on this website. We note that video had about 1,700,000 YouTube views when we first posted it on 1 April 2019. Today, it has had 2,652,865 views on YouTube.
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Committee of the Whole Recommendations from March 18, 2019
7.1.1. Rack Card Distribution
That Council approve the renewal of the Victoria/Vancouver Island distribution portion of the Certified Folder Display contract, July 1 to October 31, 2019 and May 1– June 30, 2020;
And That Council approve the new line item in the Tourism Budget, of approximately $5,715 for Social Media/Online Advertising, funded in part from the difference in funds reallocated from rack card revision, print and Certified Folder distribution;
And That Council approve the Tourism Budget as attached to the March 18, 2019, Corporate Services Coordinator’s Rack Card Distribution report.”
Here are links to some of the City of Duncan documents associated with Item 7.1.1:
Councillor Tom Duncan said that rack cards on BC Ferries are not as effective they were in the past. He suggested keeping rack cards in hotels but not bother anymore with rack cards on BC Ferries. He suggested the City of Duncan concentrate instead on social media advertising. We agree with that.
There was no further discussion or questions from Council. The Motion passed unanimously.
Advisory Committee on Disability Issues Recommendations from February 25, 2019
Emergency Preparedness Workbook
That Council direct staff to continue promoting the free Emergency Preparedness Workbook through the City’s social media page, website and newsletter;
And That Council direct staff to encourage the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Association to advise their members that the Emergency Preparedness Workbook is available for pick-up at City Hall.
Here are some links to City of Duncan documents related to this Motion:
That Council direct staff to communicate out to the public, once confirmed, that Country Cabs Duncan Ltd. now has a wheelchair accessible cab available in their fleet, as well as communicate how many accessible cabs the other local cab companies maintain.
Here are link to some City of Duncan documents relating to this Motion:
Councillor Garry Bruce asked whether this Motion meant that the City of Duncan was advertising for a private company, i.e. Country Cabs Ltd. Councillor Newington says that the City of Duncan is just adding Country Cabs Ltd. to an existing City of Duncan list of taxi companies which maintain Accessible vehicles.
The Motion passed unanimously with no further discussion.
City Walk About Report
That Council direct the Director of Public Works and Development Services to review the issues highlighted in the City Walk About Report of May 28, 2018, contact Cowichan Tribes regarding areas of concern that impact both jurisdictions, and report to the Committee of the Whole meeting prior to the end of May 2019, on the status of the highlighted issues.
Here are links to some City of Duncan documents related to this Motion:
That Council direct staff to promote tips for reducing plastic straws and single-use plastics on the City’s social media page, website and newsletter, while educating on the need for limited use of plastic straws particularly for people with disabilities.
Here are some City of Duncan documents relating to this Motion:
[Our comments: we think this issue of plastic straws has been well debated elsewhere so we hope the City of Duncan does not spend too much money and staff time on this. Anyone interested in this issue can find many information sources on this through a simple Google search.]
Duncan Disability Rack Card
That Council authorize staff to mail the Advisory Committee on Disability Issues rack cards to seniors’ housing facilities, for approximately $40, including but not limited to: Cairnsmore Place, Duncan Manor, Duncan Kiwanis Village, Sherwood House, SunridgePlace, Wedgwood House and Valley Seniors Organization.
Passed unanimously with no discussion or questions.
Reports of Staff
That Council repeal the Downtown Towing Policy, as approved on March 18, 2019;
And That Council approve the Towing Policy, as attached to the April 1, 2019, report by the Director of Corporate Services.
Here are links to some City of Duncan documents on this issue:
This Motion was passed unanimously with no discussion or questions from Council.
City Square Management Agreement
That Council abandon the practice of considering the payment to the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area (DDBIA) for managing City Square a “grant” and instead characterize the payment as a “fee for service”;
And That Council instruct staff to amend the City Square Management Agreement with the DDBIA to include a $4,000 fee for service for managing all events in City Square, other than the Farmers’ Market;
And That the City Square Management Agreement also reflect a $3,000 contribution from the DDBIA to the City, out of the rents they receive from the Farmers’ Market, to partially compensate the City for parking management, hydro, and garbage collection.
Here is a link to a City of Duncan document on this issue:
This passed unanimously with no discussion or questions from Council.
Councillor Tom Duncan stated he agreed with this policy. This policy is supported by the City of Duncan CAO and, according to the CAO, by the DDBIA.
Councillor Garry Bruce wanted more information on the financial figures involved. So do we.
We will send a request to the City of Duncan for more information on these financial figures and we will posted them in future.
9. New Business – none
Bylaws – First, Second, Third Reading
That Council give first three readings to “Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw No. 3192, 2019” – a bylaw to establish the cannabis licence application fee at $300, plus the cost of the required public input process.
Here are some links to City of Duncan documents on this issue of Cannabis Licensing for Retail Cannabis Operations:
Paige McWilliam explained that the Licensing Fee has been set at $300.00 because that is the current licensing fee for Liquor operations in Duncan. License fees are set at the same $300.00 fee as liquor outlet licensing fee because the approval process for both types of location is similar. She also noted that other municipalities charge for license AND public input process.
The Motion passed unanimously with no discussion or questions from Council.
Reports From Mayor And Councillors
Councillor Bob Brooke – attended Housing For Humanity meeting and was impressed by the Habitat For Humanity Business Plan. We will do some research on this and post what we find.
Councillor Jenni Capps – went to premiere of a local movie called A Just Society, which is about the opioid crisis in the Cowichan Valley. Councillor Stacey Middlemiss was apparently involved in the production of this video in her private capacity.
We have not seen this video of A Just Society. so we cannot comment on it at this stage. We looked for it on YouTube but were unable to find it. [See our post about the Seattle Is Dying video]
Councillor Tom Duncan – attended Island Savings Centre Board meeting. The “Naming rights” are up for discussion. Ground has been broken for the new Chemainus Library, which will be opening later this year.
Mayor Staples –
Commissionaires have new uniforms, which look “dashing”. [Note: we have asked the CAO about the Duncan (formerly) Commissionaires having been hired as City of Duncan employees. We will post that information when we get it.]
Commented favourably on the movie A Just Society mentioned earlier by Councillor Capps. [See our post about the Seattle Is Dying video]
Attended CVRD Board discussions, which focused particularly on storm damage in December 2018 and the need for emergency planning.
In the words of the Cowichan Valley Citizen, “At the municipality’s council meeting on Feb. 20, Coun. Kate Marsh made a motion for staff to prepare a report on the logistics of hiring a person to specialize in climate change and environmental issues in North Cowichan.”
This motion will be debated at a future meeting of Municipality of North Cowichan Council.
“As part of its budget building process for 2019, North Cowichan is already considering hiring five new staff members, at a cost of approximately $505,000 annually, this year as it moves forward with plans to modernize operations in the coming months.
At a budget meeting earlier this month, staff suggested that with the recommendations for the new staff members, as well as other budgetary issues in 2019, municipal taxes could rise by four per cent, or even as high as seven per cent, in 2019 for the municipality’s property owners.
But Mayor Al Siebring cautioned that the municipality is far from finalizing its budget for the year, which it must do by May 15, and more discussions are planned.
“With adjustments, I expect that the tax increase this year could be in the three per cent range,” he said.”
Here is commentary from Don Swiatlowski, a retired accountant who is a Municipality of North Cowichan resident:
“Councillor Marsh wants to hire an Environmental Manager.
Is Councillor Marsh demonstrating her arbitrary, and high-handed contempt for the taxpayers of North Cowichan (MNC) as she pursues her ideological hobby of climate change at taxpayer expense?
Some examples include:
First, she initiated an environmental property tax, a tax that I think only MNC levies on its citizens and exists nowhere else in all of BC.
Secondly, she created a bank of sorts, to loan out the environmental tax to MNC’s departments; that in effect doubles the tax on property taxpayers, because the MNC departments have to budget the repayment of the loan to the bank, thus artificially inflating municipal costs, that were funded in the first place, with your property taxes and now have to be repaid by the municipal department with yet higher taxes.
Now, she is proposing to declare a climate emergency because the Capital Regional District (CRA) did. We all share the world’s atmosphere. What impact will MNC’s declaration of an emergency have on the world? I know it is going to cause our property taxes to rise for no benefit to us. How bizarre is that?
It appears that her rational for this hiring is to save the world. So, in true Trumpian style, she wants to declare a bogus state of climate emergency in MNC, when the real culprits of increased CO2 are China and India burning all of that coal to generate electricity and all that livestock spewing green house gases into the environment and all of those new folks added to the world’s population. Anything Ms. Marsh does will be less than the equivalent of a spec of dust in the environment. Yet at MNC’s level, this translates into a rise in our property taxes that will produce zero effect on the global atmosphere. No benefit for the taxes here.
Recently, MNC hired a consultant to look at staffing. The consultant did not recommend the hiring of an environmental manager.[note: emphasis added]
Kate Marsh also wants staff to prepare a report on climate emergency; this request was made right after she stated many reports already exist on the matter; so she is just wasting valuable staff time. Ms. Marsh is out of touch with management of this town and it is resulting in wasteful spending of our property taxes.
Councillor Christopher Justice thinks that funding for this proposed new staff position may be available from other levels of government. Well, if it is, it will only be short term or project related and once that funding dries up, the local taxpayers will have to eat that in higher property taxes. Bad decision.
Duncanites should be glad they turned down amalgamation with MNC [note: DuncanTaxpayers.ca totally agrees with on this statement on Amalgamation. Fighting Amalgamation in 2018 why the reason this website was started in the first place.].”
We will add more commentary on this as Councillor Marsh’s motion makes its way through North Cowichan Council.
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“Last month in the Island Savings Centre’s Arbutus Gallery, Stacy [Middlemiss] hosted an exhibit called Stigmatized about the lived experiences of drug users in the Cowichan Valley. The space was filled with Stacy’s own photographs and quotes from the people she works with…..”
Our comments: The island Savings Centre is operated by the City of Duncan, the Municipality of North Cowichan and the CVRD. Stacy Middlemiss is on the Island Savings Centre Commission, which oversees the facility.
We wondered why Stacy Middlemiss, a member of the Commission which runs the facility, was being given display space for her own work and projects. We called the Island Savings Centre and were told that this space is run by the Cowichan Valley Arts Council and is made available free of charge to interested parties. But the Cowichan Valley Arts Council web page on the Arbutus Gallery says it is available through rental. We will look into this further.
“The Canadian Film Centre (CFC), celebrating 30 years, is a charitable cultural organization that supports, develops and accelerates the content, careers and companies of Canadian creative and entrepreneurial talent in the screen-based and digital industries. Its uniquely designed programs and initiatives span film, television, screen acting, screen composing and songwriting, and innovative work in the digital media and entertainment technology industries, all of which continue to push boundaries and generate world-class content, products and companies for the global marketplace.”
Fair enough. That sounds fairly innocuous. But the other two “Foundational Partners” are definitely more political.
“The McConnell Foundation is a private Canadian foundation that develops and applies innovative approaches to social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges. We do so through granting and investing, capacity building, convening, and co-creation with grantees, partners and the public.
We want a country in which:
public, private and social sectors are engaged in active efforts to close the gap between the socioeconomic wellbeing of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people
the public sector, private investors and philanthropists separately and collaboratively deploy financial capital to create positive social and environmental impact
social innovation is an integral part of Canada’s innovation ecosystem, enabling civic institutions to co-create policies, initiatives and programs that enable citizens to contribute a diversity of skills and perspectives to Canadian society
public, private and civil society sectors act collaboratively and courageously to advance human thriving and address shared challenges
humans’ social and economic footprint is in balance with the natural ecosystems that sustain life…..”
In short, the McConnell Foundation is a overtly political organization with a definite political agenda. It is not an impartial investor in Discourse Media Inc.
TheDiscourse.ca describes itself as a “media organizations” and its contributors, like Jacqueline Ronson, as “journalists”. But “media organizations” and/or “journalists” who are funded by organizations which have an overtly political agenda can hardly be considered independent or impartial “media organizations” and/or “journalists”.
“SheEO is a radically redesigned ecosystem that supports, finances, and celebrates female innovators.
Launched in 2015 in Canada, this visionary model is emerging as a leading global innovation that is totally unique. Rather than trying to fit women into the existing models and systems and level the playing field, we are creating an entirely new field….
SheEo is devoted to making zero interest loans to businesses run by women. Fair enough; we have no problem with that.
But SheEO also appears to have a political purpose which is shared by TheDiscourse.ca and we think Duncan and Cowichan Valley voters should be very aware of this political agenda when reading articles in TheDiscourse.ca.
In short, TheDiscourse.ca may describe itself as a “media organization” and its contributors as “journalists” but TheDiscourse.ca appears to have a very definite political agenda. It is backed by some organizations with overtly political goals and agendas.
Duncan and Cowichan Valley voters should be very aware of these political goals and agendas when reading articles in TheDiscourse.ca.
It is not an impartial “news” organization.
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