Bureaucracies die hard. The Trust proclaim that: “The reasons the province created the Islands Trust in 1974 are still valid today”. But of course, they are partial, are they not?
To back up their claim, they run to “independent” assessments – they commission polls over the entire Province, giving a chance to the people in Vanderhoof and the Peace River country to express their love and affection of the Trust.
But, some citizens living under the hegemony of the Trust challenge the Trust claim to being up to date and advocate a “Zero Based” reconsideration of the Trust. Of course, the Trust would not have any of that ...
It was defeated, because it offered no relief from the hold the Trust had on the island, and because it raised fears that doubling the hands of the Trust would quadruple the pain from the Trust.
2011 Driftwood Series: “Our Island, Our Government”
August 17, 2011: “Incorporation: time for another look” by Gail Sjuberg
August 24, 2011 “Death by a thousand cuts” by Sean McIntyre
August 31, 2011: “Taking a look beyond our shores” by Sean McIntyre
September 7, 2011: “Incorporation and the Islands Trust” by Gail Sjuberg
September 14, 2011: “Paving the way – the Bowen Experience by Sean McIntyre
September 21, 2011: “Poll results support Incorporation” Sean McIntyre
September 21, 2011: “Incorporation : It is time to move ahead” Editorial by Gail Sjuberg and Tony Richards.
This approach was at least premature if not downright imprudent. A “Local” Government is instituted when the people to be governed feel the need for such and pursue it. Accordingly the Trustees ought to facilitate the expression of the public will and kindle the necessary debate that would result in the best objective and then pave the way to its realization. Providing a forum through which to present ideas and concerns; and a “floor” on which to thrash them out in debate, the democratic way, that is all society needed. At the end of that stage, we could write an application to the Government of BC, couched in the Peoples’ will and accordingly unassailable. (Phoni laou orgi Theou = the peoples’ voice has the force of the wrath of God).
Instead, they went on begging for money with which to launch a committee, who would hire contractors to tell the committee what the people want, in a report which the committees would “release” to inform the people about what they wish for but did not know. After that, go back to BC government for more money, to have another committee hire the same contractor to tell us what to do and so on, ad nauseam.
Regrettably the Trustees lead us down this narrow, highly managed bureaucratic path of stacked committees, cleverly scribed public hearings, and “clever” interpretation of public input. We must now do the best we can, to find our way through that mess.
Have we not have enough of the surrogate brains of consultants and bureaucrats? Isn’t time we dispose of this paternalism and stand up on our two feet? For how long are we to endure the Trust?
Before I leave this entry, I will cite a quote from Anatole France that is pertinent to the matter at issue:
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
How could one top that?
Equally strange and very worrisome is the following passage in that Trustees Newsletter:
“The Well-being of the Islands Trust is a concern for many islanders . Making an informed decision about future governance for Salt Spring is dependent on the absence of confusion with regard to the future of the Islands Trust and its capacity to continue to fulfill its function”.
Yes, they treated us to the spectacle of them seeking assurances from the Ministry that the people who seek Change, do not hurt the Trust. Note that the authors of the Newsletter are “our elected officials”, It is they who begged for resources to fight, (that is what it boils down to, if the truth be told) the stranglehold the Trust has on us. It is they our “elected officials” to whom we had given an 85% strong mandate to get us Change, who sought to protect the Trust from us.
The Trustees’ Newsletter mentions naught about the amount of the funding ($80,000) for the SSI Governance Study that is at the heart of the October 5 pivotal Ministry News Release. It is not an “oversight” ...
Evidently the Trustees left it to Linda Adams to inform us, some three years later, via the Governance “Official” webpage, as the call it, to explain that when the Ministry granted the $80,000 for the SSI Governance study, they did not mean what they wrote. She, or whoever composed the “Official” webpage piece, inform all and sundry, that the Ministry had granted only $60,000 for the peoples’ Governance Study and $20,000 to the Trust’s defense against it!
It is not known exactly what happened, but it appears that Adams got Trustees Grove and Grams to allot $20,000 from the $80,000 grant to the Trust to give the Trust a chance to tip the decision process in its favour.
That explains why Trustee Peter Grove answered my query of October 2015 on whether Linda Adams had gone with them to the Ministry with a categorical “No”. Of course it is not the truth, she was with them, we know that. But the attempt to hide it manifests the strength of the need “they” feel to hide this fiasco.
This $20,000 they surreptitiously diverted to the Trust gave the Trust a “handle” on the SSI governance study and a head start at it.
The Committee contracted Urban Systems, to do the Governance Study. At the end they “received” the Urban System’s Report, passed it on to the Trustees who had appointed them, disbanded and went home.
“Trust Council Members meeting on Mayne Island passed a landmark bylaw that bestows unprecedented power to the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee.”
What were the “unprecedented power” the magnanimous Trust “bestowed” us? Hold your breath – the power to safeguard the quality of the water we drink, yes, that is what that was. They should have apologized for being seized with that power, instead of bragging “about giving us what they should never had taken away from us.
This is not generosity, this is a thinly veiled Trust attempt to impress upon us that “the Trust changes all the time, all by itself”, which had been Trust CEO Linda Adams’ line in answering the governance study activists. Nevertheless, look at it as an early benefit from the governance review!
Look at a description of the Council Bylaw:
“3.3Trust Council Bylaw to Delegate Powers to the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee
This bylaw would provide the ability to share some of Trust Council’s powers with the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (SSILTC) to improve collaborative efforts in the preservation and protection of the quality and quantity of water resources in the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Area. The powers would primarily authorize and enable the SSILTC to lead a multi-agency approach to water resource protection, with an initial focus on the St. Mary Lake watershed. Bylaw 154 also provides for some conditions on the delegated powers and specifies how related work would be funded. Progress reports would be provided to Council that the bylaw is respected and used as directed.
Resolution TC 140-2013 It was Moved by Trustee Grams and Seconded by Trustee Grove: That Islands Trust Council Bylaw 154, cited as the “Islands Trust Council Delegation Bylaw, 2013” be read a First Time.”
What Salt Spring wants, Salt Spring gets from the Trust! All it takes is a simple motion of the Salt Spring Trustees at the Trust Council – what is the fuss about Salt Spring leaving, the Trust, for incorporation? Eh?
The events were orchestrated and played out in line with everything objected to, on behalf of the Trust, by Chairman Luckham in a letter dated May 26, 2015 which he addressed to the Government of British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office, “Re: Improving public participation in environmental assessment”. In that instance, the shoe was on the other foot, as the Chairman condemns the way Urban System “managed” the public input at that pair of meetings.
There is another remarkable thing that speaks to the method Urban Systems “consulted” with the people of SSI. At that meeting, I brought in a written contribution to the Governance Committee and the Urban Systems. It is titled “Re-Fueling Governance”. I never received acknowledgment either from the Committee nor from Urban Systems ...
It is ironic because the thrust of my presentation paper that they hid was presenting the case for airing public contributions ...
Election results – the two Local Trustees and the CRD Director are re-elected.
There is no evidence that the timing of the announcement of the Governance Report may have been chosen with elections considerations in mind ...
Instead of Malcolmson and Luckham hitherto bringing the Trust to us, henceforth George Grams will take us to the Trust.
Should not the taking of George into the bosom of the Trust relax us? I for one, am not thrilled ...
“I think we are getting our money’s worth from the Trust”.
Urban Systems wrapped their findings in a 50-page well-illustrated report, titled: “Final Report – Islands Trust Impact Analysis”. They concluded that the Trust would not be fatally impacted if SSI incorporates AND that an Incorporation Study would be a good thing to do, of course.
Note that the Report, commissioned sometime after October 26, 2012, was not released until after the November 2014 Trust election!
Urban Systems, were also commissioned to do the third study, and produce the “Incorporation Study Report”. Who knows, even that may not be the last Urban Systems Report we get, either ...
Of interest is the following passage from it:
“The Islands Trust Council respects the Salt Spring Island community’s autonomy and efforts to review its governance structure within the Islands Trust. We appreciate the Minister’s commitment to giving Salt Spring islanders the information they need to make a decision about governance.” (emphasis added)
To begin with we must express our appreciation to the Trust for the generosity of its decision to respect our efforts for “autonomy”. Of course the respect comes with the caveat that we confine or expectations of “governance structure within the Islands Trust”, as per the Urban Systems ITIA report, of course, but we must be thankful for small mercies. The reality is harsh as manifested by the Trust catapulting regularly Luckham, a Trustee elected by and accountable to the Thetis island electorate, to function in the position of “Mayor” of SSI. This reality is at the heart of the governance consideration transpiring in SSI.
Then, Chairman Luckham expressed appreciation for the ITIA $20,000 study that resulted from the Local Trustees taking Linda Adams to that meeting in the Ministry.
“We appreciate the Ministry’s sponsorship of the independent Islands Trust Impact Analysis (ITIA) report. The Islands Trust Impact Analysis equips Trust Council with the objective information we need to successfully adapt to changes that may arise from Salt Spring Island’s review of its governance options.”
As I discuss elsewhere in this Diary, there is no public record of a Ministry $20,000 grant to the Trust but there is the $80,000 grant to the governance Review Study. It is only the writer of the “Official” Webpage who “informs”, about a phantom $20,000 grant to the Trust . And about another phantom Ministry grant of $60,000 to the peoples’s side. These two add up to the known $80,000 grant the SSI to pay for a Governance Study, which manifest to that the Trustees,“sub-grant-ed” the $20, 000 to the Trust, lest the latter be short of fora from which to defend itself from the will of the people, to enable the Trust to throw the monkey wrench, if you will, in the gearbox of Change.
Otherwise the Chairman’s letter, is OK!
Looking at the Trustees lecturing us, the people, telling us to behave, is unpleasant, especially so given the record of the two Local Trustees (I certainly exclude the CRD director from this). Their speedy absorption by the Trust, and their readiness to partake in intrigue, machination and obfuscation throughout the past four years has affected adversely their stature to lecture the people.
So much so that the Trustees metamorphosis from agents of change to boosters of what we elected them to change, need be exposed for the consideration of society on the road to incorporation. For this reason I will review the Trustees epistle against the background of their performance on this matter.
“Statement re incorporation study
We, CRD director Wayne McIntyre and Islands Trust trustees Peter Grove and George Grams, welcome the announcement from the Hon. Coralee Oakes MLA that the incorporation study for Saltspring island is to proceed.
Two parts of the governance review sought by our local government officials have already been completed: the governance study was submitted to the ministry in December 2013, and the Islands Trust Impact Assessment, commissioned directly by the ministry, was released concurrent with the minister’s statement announcing support for the incorporation study. The incorporation study forms the third component in the review.
The study is an opportunity to dispassionately and objectively consider and compare the two options currently open to us in terms of future local governance and, if the community wills and the minister agrees, to cast our votes for one of those options in a subsequent referendum. This is an opportunity to learn, to debate, to reflect, and to choose between our current form of governance or a municipal model.
We appeal to our community to make this process courteous and respectful, free of the divisive rhetoric, the fear mongering and the ad hominem attacks that so characterized the previous incorporation study and divided this community.
We expect to receive the minister’s detailed instructions on how to proceed. At that point we will issue a call to the community seeking volunteers from a broad range of community interests to serve on the incorporation study committee.”
The position of the Trustees vis-a-vis the SaltSpring Governance review need be exposed because it demonstrates the capacity of the Trust to take people under its spell and because it gauges the credibility of those who have their hands on the levers of the governance assessment process. It is the Trustees who selected the Governance Committee, as well as its successor the Incorporation Committee; and they are part and parcell of the Trust “Official” PRopaganda dispensary. Exposing the connections, is therefore conducive to understanding core issues of the matter so as to make valid deduction that will converge to make the final Yes or No decision.
It appears that the Trustees are well aware of that and seek to shelter the “means” to an “end”. Especially telling is their fourth paragraph, which I will copy here, for easy reference:
“We appeal to our community to make this process courteous and respectful, free of the divisive rhetoric, the fear mongering and the ad hominem attacks that so characterized the previous incorporation study and divided this community.”
Courtesy is important but not necessarily constructive to fairness in a debate. Whoever did the “bunker” thing on George Ehring, exhibited not excessive tact, but spread the message to there where it would not reach otherwise. It is the observation of events like this which coagulated in the mind of Carl Sandburg who distilled it into that splendid line:
“Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.”
This says it all, does it not?
As a matter of record, Winston Churchill, one of my innocent mentors, expressed a similar view and so did other luminaries.
It is the duty of those who have something to contribute to a public discourse to say it and aim at all the pebbles on the social mosaic, including citizens who chew tobacco and spit it on the boots of those who do the talking. For horse- sense is precious but not exclusive with those who take tea at the Empress.
Remember Trudeau, the Father, who said “Fuddle Duddle” to the Hon. Members in the House down there on the Hill, expressed himself digitally in Salmon Arm and spread merde all over the place – it was his choice of media that made his messages resonate.
The Trustees jump headlong into heavy Latin to impress upon us the universal disgust of “personal” attacks and make us talk ideas in the abstract and leave the reputation of the guilty intact. I will “Oxford” it: ad hominem attack means attacking the persona of who those who say it, instead of arguing the issues. This does not mean that a Judge should not ad hominem a defendant bicycle thief standing before the Court who has a long record of bicycle thefts. It means that an argument on a fine point of science cannot be shot down because Stephen Hawkins gets around in a wheelchair. “History” is inseparable from those who make it and when relevant, reference to it is fair comment.
Which brings us to the Trustees urging us to refrain from “fear mongering”. The human and animal nervous system is a fear-generating apparatus, built into us to serve the cause of survival. Reasoning out, for example, that the Trust is un-trustworthy, is not “fear mongering”, it is a reality the consequences of which we will bring upon ourselves if we ignore it.
We must not let the Trustees scare us from taking a position in the democratic debate of governance systems lest we be accused of “divisive rhetoric”.
Enough said, methinks. The Trustees have much to hide and want to protect themselves and the status quo and for that they are “scare mongering” us into silence or at least into discussing the trivial instead of the significant.
They are not only lecturing us, they are ad hominem attacking us. All to prevent “divisive” rhetoric, that is to say, presenting the “other sides of the story”.
I raised the issue a long time ago and I have suggested repeatedly that patriation the “government” of the Trust to within the Trust Area would help the Trust (along with other suggestions I made) to give the people of SaltSpring a credible alternative to incorporation. Neither Grove nor Grams voiced a word of support for my suggestions, either at the LTC Level, or at the Trust Council level.
After the Driftwood reported Trustee Grams’ newfound affinity for relocating Trust “jobs” to within the boundaries of the Trust Area, I brought the following delegation to the SSI LTC:
“To Patriate the Trust
With his piece “Trust’s Victoria centre queried” (The Driftwood, April 29, 2015) Sean McIntyre reports Trustee George Grams pondering some change to the geographics of the I.Trust Republic. Mind you, his vision is moderate and his manner restrained. He does not push the throttle to get the crate airborne, he does not really seek to topple the colonial structure of the Trust, it is not his to be a “radical”! He only contemplates a study to discover whether to float the Trust bulbous bureaucratic mass, or part of it, from distant Victoria, to Salt Spring. Do not call for bagpipes!
Cut now to the other half of the Trust local microparliament. In his re-election platform Trustee Peter Grove crossed his heart and solemnly promised, black on white, to “advocate moving the Islands Trust head office to Salt Spring from Victoria.
As it happens, both Trustees come “second”. For I have been raising the matter myself in delegations to the SSI LTC and the Trust Council, both Trustees present in both bodies, each time. Three years ago on July 13, 2012, I submitted the delegation paper for the then upcoming LTC meeting of August 2, 2012 and which was on the subject of Trust de-colonization.”
The Minutes of the August 2, 2012 SSI LTC meeting read:Notably, I supplemented the delegation with a piece I brought to the Trust through the “Placard.”
11.1 Dr. Varzeliotis – Local Government Should be Locally Located
Dr. Varzeliotis suggested that the location of the Islands Trust headquarters be moved to Salt Spring Island. In addition to his written submission dated August 2, 2012 about the location of the Islands Trust headquarters, Dr. Varzeliotis also provided written submissions dated August 2, 2012 and entitled; “Trust colonialism – a gross anachronism”; and “Tom’s Town Hall Placard”.
Thereafter I repeated on several occasions the call to decolonization, and suggested that moving the Trust head office to Salt Spring would help the Trust become a credible option in the then upcoming move to incorporate SSI. Now that the then “upcoming” has become the “current”, so to speak, the two Trustees make noises about Trust de-colonial-ization ...
One suspects the Trustees’ emerging fledgling de-colonization fervour being counterfeit ...
Implementing public input is praiseworthy. Dispensing disinformation is deplorable. Plagiarizing citizens input is unbecoming people in positions of trust ...
The LTC fell silent on it.
This is pertinent because it informs us that our Trustees, never supported my efforts to dismantle the colonial structure of the Trust. Eventually, it was to strengthen the position of the Trust vis-a -vis the Governance consideration movement that they picked up on my idea and made their silly utterances about Staff patriation.
I did not say “silly” lightly. I chose the word because the Trustees toot their suggestion as an effort to bring some jobs to Saltspring. But this would be a small benefit, of secondary nature.
My focus has always been on the political aspects of the Trust colonialism. Such as having the Trust Executive Committee rule the islands from the dungeon of the Trust Fort in Victoria. I have also confirmed the obvious, that no meeting of the ExCom has ever been attended by any member of the Public! And that is a serious matter, a wrong that could not have gone unrecognized by those who knew it! It is a wrong done to bypass democracy so as to do what democracy would prevent them doing.
I tried to break that dismal record of decision making-in-isolation – I sought to address the ExCom, only to see the door rudely shut in my face.
Moving the Trust headquarters to SSI, would ensure that the ExCom meet in the presence of the public, instead of breeching the law by distancing and cloistering themselves in Victoria, as it does now. This has enormously larger dimensions of significance than the financial impact of moving a few jobs to the Island. I should mention that the effects of forcing the ExCom to perform before the public eye, would extend over the whole archipelago.
But it was neither Peter Grove nor George Grams who brought the matter to the Council. Who did it was a Trustee from an island that has no chance of ever getting a single Trustperson located in his riding, who got the issue moving at the Council.
South Pender Island Trustee Bruce McConchie, conscious of the implications of the colonial structure of the Trust, and likely alert to the opportunity for support generated by the SSI governance review, raised the issue. He made a motion asking for a committee to be struck to study moving the Trust headquarters to the Islands.
That Grams, spoke about it, was an effort at damage control from McConchie’s motion, as well as of the need to thwart the incorporation effort.
After McConchie lead the way Trustees Grove and Grams pitched in to show “involvement”. But their thrust was to protect the interests of the Trust and the Trust Staff. A sad performance, really ...
Trustee Luckham, voted against the move, thereby revealing his loyalties.
Another highlight of that Council discourse is that a motion was made to amend the resolution about the “patriation of the Trust headquarters” study by postponing the commencement of the Committee study, Trust Colonialism for a few months until after the SSI governance matter is settled in the Spring of 2016, so that it does not interfere with the SSI incorporation debate. The Amendment Motion was:
“It was MOVED by Trustee Stamford and SECONDED by Trustee Dodds, that the motion be amended to add at the end: ‘to begin after the Salt Spring Island referendum’. ”
It is sad that the amendment motion was again not moved by the Salt Spring Trustees. After missing the opportunity to defend the integrity of the SSI incorporation debate, one would have expected them to thank Stamford and Dodds for doing it and to work with them to protect the integrity of the SSI governance decision presently underway in their home island. Instead, they worked to ensure defeat for the Amendment ...
But, the SSI Trustees went to work to ensure Trust Staff representation in the patriation study committee, yet it did not cross their mind to include citizens at large in it, to ensure public input, and this is sad too.
“This community-based webpage is the official source of information about the locally-driven project.”
It is neither “community-based”, nor it is “official”; and yes, it is not a “source of information” either. It is a PRopaganda outlet against SSI incorporation ...
They repeat that piece of raw disinformation about the webpage having “Official” stature further down, lest people forget that whatever Big Brother utters is “the official truth”.
Let’s sample it a bit – look at these:
“In October 2012, Minister Bill Bennett, then Minister of Community Sport and Cultural Development, announced the ministry would provide the Salt Spring Island community with $60,000 and staff support for a first phase of a governance study. The community formed a Salt Spring Island Governance Study Committee in late 2012 and concluded its work in November 2013.
Also in October 2012, Minister Bennett announced that he would fund a study to evaluate the impact on the Islands Trust, should Salt Spring incorporate. This study is referred to as the "Islands Trust Impact Analysis."
Neither assertion is true. The ministerial news release is available on line and refers only to an $80,000 grant for the “governance study”. It appears that the SSI Trustees gave the Trust the top $20,000 from that, perhaps due to participation of the Trust CAO in the expedition to the Ministry. “Sharing the crop”, some people call it.
Incidentally, this, let’s call it the “Official” webpage (sarcasm was invented to cope with the likes of this), features a “Search-for-the-Truth Engine”. It is worth mentioning for the benefit of the many citizens who may not personally encounter it, should know about it for it manifests the Trust’s affinity for control of information.
A clipping of a paragraph, a sentence or a word from the “Official” webpage is automatically loaded with the following link:
“See more at: http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/islands/municipal-incorporation/salt- spring-island.aspx#sthash.8nTXFBm1.dpuf”
Puff! This “hacking” is done to keep page visitors, from moving out of the Trust Official page, sort of unlawful confinement. It is there to dissuade us from moving on to other sites, lest we migrate to the other side of the story. We can have all the information we want they say as long as we get it from the Trust ... Lest we be mislead ...
Why would they do such a silly thing? The answer is obvious, they sought to tap the innocent and those who would not look up the Ministerial announcement.