An Open Letter Seeking to End the Brinkworthy Saga - Alcyonenews

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Posted February 13, 2016

183 Booth Canal Road, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada V8K 2N2.
Fax:250-537-9303, E-mail
Dr. A. N. T. Varzeliotis  P.Eng (Ret’d)

February 13, 2016

The Hon. Peter Fassbender,
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Victoria BC,

The Hon. Norm Letnick
Minister of Agriculture
Victoria BC,

Chair Frank Leonard
The Provincial Agricultural Land Commission
133 – 4940 Canada Way
Burnaby, BC,V5G 4K6

Re: Salt Spring Island – PARC Sports Multiplex

With this I wish to bring to your attention the inappropriate ways and means by which the Salt Spring Island Parks and Recreation (PARC) and the Islands Trust Local Trust Committee (LTC) have been seeking to subdue public opposition to construction of a Sports multiplex that most people deem not justified.

The PARC plan would cause a loss to the ALR of  15 Acres of prime quality land and this at a time of a popular rally for  local food production with a view to self-sufficiency.

The Sports Multiplex location will turn topsy turvy the lives of more than 100 households some 86 of them being members of the Brinkworthy community of senior (“55 and older”) who moved into that community for the amenities the Sports Multiplex would tax from them.

I most respectfully submit that the approach taken by PARC and the LTC, excludes illusions of the project being sustainable by legitimate reasons. The means and ways used by  PARC and the LTC fully justify halting the process now to prevent the end they sought from happening.

For these reasons and the elaboration of them following in this communication, I respectfully request your intervention to halt this ill-conceived and ill-pursued enterprise.

Facts and Reasons

In 2010 the SaltSpring Island (SSI) Parks and ReCreation (PARC) sough to construct a Sports Multiplex on Furness  Road SSI, but the expansion plan was foiled by public objection.

In 2015, PARC commenced another attempt to do the same Sports Multiplex in SSI, this time around on the lands at 181 Brinkworthy Road.

This is a 15 acre parcel, classed A1 land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR);  it is lying alongside a well established habitat of 86 homes exclusively for “people over 55", as well as in the vicinity of several other residences.

At no time has PARC established that the Sports Multiplex is anything beyond an “expansion desire”, written in the “Wish List” of PARC. Nor have they attempted to argue that it tramples the cause of food self-sufficiency and the need for locally grown fresh crisp red onions.     

Moving surreptitiously

PARC Board discussed the Multiplex behind closed doors on September 21, 2015.

On October 1,  2025, the SSI  Local Trust Committee (LTC) discussed similarly behind closed doors a PARC application for LTC consent to PARC to file  an application with the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) for permission to use the Brinkworthy Lands “for non-agricultural purposes”.

In this instance, the wording  “for non-agricultural purposes” is meant to obfuscate the fact that the lands at issue will be lost to agriculture forever if PARC build the Sports multiplex on it. There is no conceivable chance, none whatsoever, that if PARC build the Sport Multiplex, the Brinkworthy lands would ever revert to Agriculture.

At the October 1st LTC meeting, I (the undersigned), exposed the subject of the behind “closed” doors session the LTC had scheduled which was to process the PARC application for LTC consent to take the Sports Multiplex to the ALC. The LTC proceeded with holding the session in secrecy, oblivious that they were offending the law and subverting democracy!

Subsequent to the behind closed doors October 1st, LTC discussion the following are known to have happened:

* LTC Trustee George Grams approached the Chair of the SSI Agricultural  Advisory Planning Commission (AAPC), whose advice the LTC is obligated  to consider,  seeking to influence the AAPC deliberations on the Brinkworthy lands.

* Grams also approached the ALC seeking a delegation of power to the LTC to act as surrogate ALC, so that the LTC could itself remove the Brinkworthy Lands from the ALR. This manifest PARC & LTC recognition that the ALC had not what it would take to legitimately  pry loose from the ALR the A1 class ALR lands for that Sports Multiplex.

* LTC Planner Seth Wright, in charge of the Sport Multiplex PARC Application File, discussed with PARC the filing of an application for the Rezoning of the Brinkworthy lands to render it zoned for the Sports multiplex. This normally would come to the LTC only if and after, the ALC would release the Land from the ALR

Had the missions of Trustee Grams and Planner Wright succeeded and the coverup had not been blown, the LTC would, in a single session held behind closed doors, deliver to PARC the Brinkworthy lands ready for the bulldozers. And the people of Saltspring would have been force-fed a distasteful fait accompli. And the Brinkworthy community of seniors and other residents of the area would have lost the amenities they invested in for their Brinkworthy homes.

On October 19th the PARC Board held another secret session on the Brinkworthy Project.  

On October 22nd the LTC held another secret session on the Brinkworthy PARC application

PARC at its Sept 21st and October 19th meetings; and the LTC at its October 1st and October 22nd meetings, uniformly pretended relying on Community Charter Section 90(1)(e)” for evicting the public from their meeting halls so as to discuss the Sports Multiplex. Following is “90(1)(e)” as it appeared in the October 1st, LTC agenda):

18. CLOSED MEETING  2:30 PM - 3:00 PM

18.1 Motion to Close the Meeting. The Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee closes this meeting to the public subject to Community Charter Section 90(1)(e) concerning the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the Committee considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the community.”(Emphasis added).

Nota Benne:  I said “pretended relying” because I find it inconceivable that  PARC and TRUST are as inept  as to interpret that a democratically governed society has on its books s. “90(1)(e)” to empower public  bodies like the PARC and TRUST to do unto the people what the people do not want done to them – by  definition ...

 They know or ought to know that Democracy exists to exclude  dictators, including “benevolent dictators”, “paternalistic do-gooders”, small and large, all and sundry of that ilk ...

Flushed out

The November 19th  LTC meeting marked the bringing-out-of-the-closet the Brinkworthy file. The LTC showed neither remorse nor did they express apologies for having attempted to impose on Brinkworthy the Sports Multiplex by stealth ...

But it was worse than that really, as the PARC application was not visible. The PARC Application was not physically on the table. There was a Staff Report about it and it contained out of context quotations from the Application, unmarked as such, but the PARC Application had gone AWOL.

A most odd-appearing cluster of events followed.

The Staff Report they had on the table was substandard in many significant ways  and at serious variance with the 2010 Staff Report on the identical PARC Multiplex.

Characteristically, the 2015 Staff Report, makes no reference whatsoever to the 2010 PARC attempt to build the Sports Multiplex, nor of the Trust’s stand vis a vis it!  It is silent on that, as if the Planner was directed to skip it, lest it remind the people that the Multiplex has previously been considered and wholeheartedly rejected.

Knowing Mr. Wright to be a capable report writer, his deficient Report on such an important subject, triggered curiosity and invited some elementary research. We went to PARC offices for a copy of their application to the LTC – they readily refused! Much worse than that really, they demanded a formal Freedom Of Information (FOI) application to even consider giving us access to that, an application that was meant to be entirely public.  Upon regaining consciousness, we filed a FOI application on November 18, 2015 – PARC took the whole allowable period, and on January 6, 2016 they mailed us a document other than the Application we had requested! They fell silent to our pleas for the document we were seeking but which they were hiding.

The PARC determination to hide their application causes suspicions. On November 24, I visited the SSI Trust Office seeking to determine whether the omission of the PARC Application, was deliberate – Lo and behold, it was!  Planner Wright refused to show me the PARC application due to it containing secret stuff, he told me! I managed to retain my composure only because, by then, that PARC and Trust are in collusion was patent.

On December 2, 2015, Planner Wright attempted damage control. He  surprised me with an email meant to “justify” the blackout over the PARC application. He stated that this was not the first time staff withheld applications from the  LTC, as if more than one wrong constitute a right.  He neither pointed to anything compelling him to treat the  PARC application as a secret document, nor to something allowing him to do that. Still, he did not give me access to the PARC application ...

Facing the Farmers

On December 3, 2015, the Trust’s own AAPC (Agricultural Advisory Planning Commission) considered the PARC Sports Multiplex.  Three Trust Planners and the PARC manager attended. I took a written submission to AAPC but the Planners blocked it from reaching the AAPC.

Mr. Dan Ovington, PARC Manager, offered in exchange for the 15 acres A1 ALR Brinkworthy Lands, a 2 hectares (8  acres) piece of land from the Duck Creek Park for inclusion in the ALR. This is entirely meaningless because PARC would never farm its Park – land inclusion in a park is ironclad  exclusion of farming that land, in perpetuity ...

PARC also offered as additional trade in for the Brinkworthy lands, “decommissioning” playing fields it has built on ALR land without permission from the ALC;  which is like trying to trade-in a stolen bicycle for a Harley Davidson.

The AAPC had received and considered publically inputs from the Farmers’ Institute and other island farming interests; They questioned the Planners and the PARC manager meaningfully. Then unanimously passed a resolution asking the LTC to toss out the PARC application and to preserve the Brinkworthy lands for agriculture.

Feeling misunderstood and unloved

The mainstay of the PARC spiel in seeking licence to pave over the Brinkworthy lands has been that despite PARC persistent efforts to entice owners of suitable land to sell it to PARC for the Sports Multiplex, there have been no takers. Nobody out there wants to sell land to PARC on which to build that nice Sport Multiplex, they say almost with tears in their eyes.  In plain words,  this is pure poppycock.

The truth is that PARC has never made an honest offer to buy land for this Sports Multiplex.  PARC has been asking land owners to grant PARC  free of charge a two years long option-to-buy land. But, the cost of holding a half-a-$Million  property for the benefit of PARC for two years or so, is in the order of a $100,000. No person of a modicum of business acumen will do that.

On December 20, 2015,  I wrote a paper about the fake claim PARC was using as a wooden horse to deceive the public and regulatory public bodies.  I titled my paper, appropriately I thought,  “A DriveShaft made of Spaghetti”. I distributed it to PARC and the Trust but never heard back from neither ... they all fell silent like clams for that is the best they would do for themselves (Socrates).

There is widespread public discontent with PARC in SSI and is manifested by several letters to the editor. People feel that PARC is unduly expansionist and that they mismanage and underutilize their resources, plenty of which PARC owns in SSI.

The above mentioned aspect may explain the real reason for the PARC insistence on lengthy free-of-charge, free-of-obligations, tie-down of property.  It manifests PARC awareness that were they to face the society to ask for more tax money to expand, they would be laughed out of town. Hence they move foxy-fashion to create a fait accompli, before the over-taxed citizenry gets wind of it ...

Fighting the Farmers back

At the December 17th meeting, the LTC discarded the AAPC conclusion and recommendation on the basis that the members of the AAPC are partial to agriculture. This characterization I find as damnable as an attempt would be to disqualify Churchill from  fighting the vile man with the little mustache because Churchill was partial to democracy!      

At the December 17th meeting, the LTC send the application back to PARC with a recommendation to reformat that elusive application.  They expect it back garnished with the offer to re-brand part of Duck Creek Park with the label:  “Duck Creek ALR Park”; and a solemn promise to withdraw from some  PARC occupied ALR land.  But PARC has not as yet (February 10, 2016) returned with that ...

The Brinkworthy Sports Multiplex was not on the Agenda of either the January 14 or the February 11, 2026 LTC meetings. There is evidence that they, PARC & Trust, have moved underground again, albeit surreptitiously, without uttering their earlier s.90(1)(e) “excuse”.

Letters to the Trust

There are at least 84 letters filed with the Trust, 82 against the Sports Multiplex - two for it, as far as I know. For comparison, in 2010, 13 letters sufficed to kill the PARC attempt to build the Sports Multiplex on Furness Road. Today, PARC & Trust are bent on imposing on the many surreptitiously what the few  yesterday killed in the open.

Bitter revenge

The Trust has reacted vehemently to my work on the Brinkworthy Sports Multiplex. They have launched a fierce ad hominem campaign against me. At the January 14, 2016 LTC meeting Chairman Luckham lead the attack. Then, after my departure from the meeting hall, Trustee Grams spoke to Driftwood Reporter Ms. Elizabeth Nolan about me. Grams followed up four days later on January 18 with an email to Nolan. Grams, distributed copies of the email widely within the Trust, all behind my back. Notably, they hurled derogatory epithets at me but did not point to any particular event that would support even an iota of their attack on my person.

This last aspect manifests their rage at me for exposing the PARC & Trust  secret agenda on the Sports Multiplex. It is relevant to the submission at hand because it gauges their reliance on secrecy to create a fait accompli, which in turn, testifies to their awareness that the project is unsustainable by legitimate means.

In Conclusion

It is imperative that someone halts this nonsense which is taxing the well-being of many people and undermining the credibility of PARC and Trust.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. A. N. T. Varzeliotis P.Eng (Ret’d)

Copies to: Salt Spring Island PARKS & Recreation; and to
   Salt Spring Island  Local Trust Committee; and to
   Gulf Islands Driftwood

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