General News · 4th November 2013
Intro - My name is George Creek - representing the Council of BC Yacht Clubs representing over 50 yacht clubs and over 10,000 boater members. We represent the interests of recreational boaters in BC, both residents and visitors.
Brief summary of why we are here;
- On July 23 the SRD had a Public Hearing at Gorge Hall to hear presentations on Bylaw 171 ( by the way, I am not a millionaire and I do not have a 100 ft boat)
- Early August we learned that the Approving Officer, Rudi Mayser, decided to offer a lease for the marina to the Klahoose Resort Limited Partnership even thought the zoning bylaw process was not complete or decided.
- August 22nd, the SRD defeats the zoning bylaw
- August 29 we query Craig Sutherland ADM of FLNRO as to what happens to the lease offer after the bylaw for zoning is defeated.
- Sept 3 in a telephone discussion with Rudi Mayser, he advised " This tenure, when completed , signed and in place, carries obligations on the lessee to comply with all laws, regulations, and other covenants placed on them by any and all Federal, Provincial and Local governments. The applicant has 60 days in which to accept the offer of tenure and comply with its obligations and requirements. This can be extended if needed."
- Sept 4 Rudi Mayser wrote this board requesting a meeting to resolve the impasse between the SRD and his department. We requested to be accorded representation at this meeting but did not receive a reply from the SRD administrator.
- Sept 5 Mr. Mayser advised by email "Please be advised that it is not a condition of the tenure offer but rather a standard requirement under the terms of our tenure documents, that the proponent must “...observe, abide by and comply with all applicable laws, bylaws, order, directions, ordinances and regulations of any government authority having jurisdiction...”.
- October 1 we met with Myles Mana, Director, Resources Authorizations FLNRO in which he advised that the lease offer would be revised and the statement that the proponent must “...observe, abide by and comply with all applicable laws, bylaws, order, directions, ordinances and regulations of any government authority having jurisdiction...” would be removed. In other words, the lease would proceed without SRD approval through a zoning bylaw and circumventing the entire Bylaw application, hearing and approval process.
So here we are, a pristine safe anchorage used by boaters for decades is at stake, not to mention the continued existence of two, taxpaying businesses, Cortes residents and the process the SRD must follow possibly being set aside.
In this whole process, it was stated several times by FLNRO staff, both verbally and in writing, that any consequences of their decision on adjoining businesses or residents was "not of their concern". A quite dispassionate statement.
However, in the FLNRO Strategic Policy : Crown Allocation Principles of June 1, 2011, their own documented guidelines, it states;
3. Considerations for the Decision - Maker
3.1 Crown Land values are managed for the benefit of the public.
Decisions should consider social, economic and environmental outcomes that may ensue as a result of an allocation of Crown Land. Benefits may be short or long term, direct or indirect.
Government goals provide guidance in determining public benefit.
The public includes British Columbia residents, businesses, organizations, local governments and First Nations.
We do not believe these considerations were madein this case.
As you know and as presented at the July 23rd Public Hearing, we made the point that two existing, long standing businesses ( decades) would be severely impacted by this decision and not likely to survive against unfair competition.
By unfair we refer to the fact that all businesses operating within the SRD, and any municipality in BC as a matter of fact, must abide by all rules, regulations, codes contained in the Local Government Act and administered by people duly elected to do so, EXCEPT those operating on reserve lands would be exempt. A distinct advantage over similar operations nearby such as;
- No Business levies, fees or taxes
- No permits for buildings or other infrastructure
- No Property Taxes
These advantages are now being supported by the FLNRO who have become advocates for the proponent even though they profess impartiality. Does this approach have Ministerial approval?
If the FLNRO are not concerned about the consequences of their decisions on others, then they should be equally unconcerned when local governments ultimately decide what is best for their community through the prescribed process.
What has changed? Why has it changed? Who actually made the decision to try and over ride the SRD authority and process?
Throughout this process, the name Klahoose Resort Limited Partnership was used, even on Mr. Mayser's letter of Sept 5th to this board. But why have they changed this reference to Klahoose Resort Inc. It seems that it is against provincial rules to lease to partnerships, something not previously known, until we started asking pointed questions. So they simply changed to reference and name, a point they may argue that it was all along.
Incidentally, the numerous applications currently pending decision by the Crown Assets Allocation for aquaculture tenures are all in the partnership name.
On the subject of the partnership, the applicant has been very evasive in providing the names of the partnership saying it was no business of others.
However, The Partnership Act of BC states that every registered partnership must maintain a current list of all partners at its registered address, available to "any person" wishing the information, without fee or charge.
On August 15th, a couple of interested people attended the registered office of the partnership on the Klahoose reserve and requested a list of the partners involved. They were refused by the chief and one councillor, and not very politely, to the point it might have been construed as verbal abuse.
What do they have to hide?
A letter of complaint has now been filed with the Registrar of Companies seeking remedy by the persons seeking the information.
The provincial government officials making this decision do not have to answer to anyone. Why should they? They will continue to be employed by the province, receive their salaries and benefits, BUT you as elected directors of the SRD must answer to your constituents every three years. You also have a broader, more encompassing responsibility to your communities, including a fiduciary one.
We believe that the obvious impact of this development on local existing businesses if it were allowed to proceed played a role in your decision as it should have done when FLNR were making theirs.
Also, please bear in mind that this could happen again in any one of your communities given similar circumstances.
Where do we go from here? Will this board reverse its decision? Or will you stand by the process that you are required to follow? I remind you again of the impact on local, existing, taxpaying businesses.
We will continue to make our position known to the Premier and key Ministers.
Thank you for your time and the opportunity to communicate our positions and comments.