“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).
This Agenda item coming in the wake of the Driftwood piece left no doubt that the Trust had been preparing to process the Brinkworthy file behind the back of the public. There is evidence suggesting that PARC was in cahoots with the Trust for pushing the matter underground. However, someone spilled the beans it appears and PARC went into “damage control”, by telling the Driftwood the “news”.
“Trustee Grams reported that he attended meetings with the following: ... ; with the Chair of the Salt Spring Island Agricultural Advisory Planning Commission regarding Agricultural Land Commission policy; ...”
In respect to the Brinkworthy project, it is the Demos in Democracy who scare PARC and the Trust. I will expound why PARC fear us and later I will do likewise for the Trust.
Over five years ago, in 2010, PARC attempted to built these “improved soccer fields and the baseball fields” on a 50 Acre property, on Furness Road, in the South end of the Island, which is starved of PARC facilities. The size of that property, being over three times as large as the Brinkworthy property, would have allowed for wide buffer zones to protect the few and far apart “neighbors” of the proposed playing fields.
Yet, the neighbors would not buy the assurances of PARC to protect the peace and quiet of their area and they spoke out. Since vox populi, [is] vox dei, the PARC went into a fast reverse and ran backward up Lees Hill, all the way back to their lair at Central.
PARC is on a binge of expansionism. So much so that they contemplate expanding into real estate by building commercial office space on the Portlock “playing fields” for renting to clients, such as the Trust, who has overstayed its licence to occupy the premises by the Hydro Yard.
It is inconceivable that the people at PARC have forgotten the Furness Road fiasco. It is incomprehensible that they thought that the Many of Brinkworthy would surrender what the Few of Furness had fought back.
Yet, PARC planners jammed the Soccer Fields and the Baseball Diamonds and the Parking Lots and the Washrooms and the Admin Buildings and everything else into the 15 Acres and seek to plunk the whole complex “immediately adjacent” (Trust expression) to Brinkworthy Seniors Community and other equally innocent neighbors. In attempting that, PARC manifests a callous and cruel attitude toward people – Certainly this is not sportsmanship ...
But this they want to do, and they took a run at it, and they found a willing partner in the Trust, ready to help them do it, on the sly.
I cannot leave this without exposing the extent of the Trust affliction with secrecy. For that LTC meeting I had registered a delegation titled:
“Trust Censorship on the Upswing”
This was about the last Trust escalation of censorship. This addition to their considerable censorship apparatus is meant to embed irresponsibility and to fend off democratic accountability of the Trust censors by making their doings untraceable to any individual Trustee or Staff. “They” censored my delegation and then censored their censoring of it. Here is the entry in the Minutes:
That delegation paperm “Trust Censorship on the Upswing” is already avilable in wwwalcyca and suggest reading it because it is essential that the people get to know the Trust, at any time and more so while SSI is in the midst of considering incorporation. I also addressed an article to the LTC I and presented it at the “Town Hall and Questions” session at that, the October 1, meeting. I had titled it bilingually, in Latin and English:
“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? In other words, who is to watch the watchdogs?”
In that paper I expose the “secret” of the Closed Meeting scheduled in the Agenda, as I already mentioned.
Please look at how the Trust recorded in the Meeting Minutes the Brinkworthy LTC melee they had with me:
“16. TOWN HALL AND QUESTIONS
Chair Luckham opened the Town Hall at 12:31 p.m.
One member of the public spoke to the content of closed meetings.”
Why would that “One Member of the Public” do that, the innocent will think? Why would the Trust record it as they did? Who cares about that silly message? But, who knows? Some innocent readers may take it that the Trust does “closed meetings” by public demand!
The “One member of the public [who] spoke to the content of closed meetings” was Dr. Varzeliotis, a Civil Engineer, a concerned citizen, who spoke exposing the subject of the secret session the LTC had planned and showed it for what it is, to wit, a deliberate abuse of the Law to illegitimate ends.
That is who the “One member of the public” was and that is what he “spoke to” and that is whom and what the Trust brutally censored.
This paper, too, I will append to this work.
When the Trust posted the Agenda for the October 22nd LTC meeting, I was flabbergasted – for it contained the following Item:
“1. CLOSED MEETING 2:30 PM - 3:00 PM
10.1 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).
Yes, you remember well – this is an exact copy of the item in the October 1, the previous meeting agenda which I discussed above. It is about the acquisition of the same land, the Brinkworthy land.
I found the recurrence weird and feared the possibility of the LTC serializing blackouts to save harmless ever more “interests of the community”! I found disturbing the determination of Trustees to continue moving underground, maligning democracy, even after being caught red-handed at it. It was bad and I could not imagine how it could get worse, but the Trust propensity for disinforming the society proved fathomless.
The LTC meeting format includes a session where the Trustees brag about their labors on behalf of the people in the interval since the previous LTC meeting – it is billed as “TRUSTEE REPORT - Verbal Report” and comes up at the start of the afternoon session. Usually they report such things as having had coffee with the president of the Flat Earth Society, but occasionally they “fly trial balloons” and some times they let out intentionally or inadvertently serious stuff. And this happened at the October 22nd LTC where we were treated to a duet by Local Trustees Gram and Imported Chair Luckham. I was there and I could neither believe my ears nor hold back my tears. I restrained my tongue by repeating, ear-worm fashion: “It cannot be true, I must be hearing things ...
Some 10 days later, the Trust posted the audiotape of the October 22 LTC meeting and I had the pertinent part transcribed. Here it is, enjoy!
“[George Grams]: - Good afternoon everyone.
These past few weeks since the first of the month it has been a fairly busy month. As a member of Executive I had an interesting meeting with the chair of the Agricultural Land Commission and executive Price. Some of the unique issues we face on the island and indeed across the gulf islands as a whole is promoting agriculture. It was over a - we had a thirty minute chat before hand and then over a working lunch and we found them very sympathetic to the needs of the islands. He made two interesting suggestions - the first was that we might make applications to the ALC to receive delegated powers to make certain decisions that are currently made by the panel who considers decisions for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and the second was that, in the interim, we make an application to address that panel to inform them of our duty, situation and circumstances. The executive seemed quite sympathetic to both suggestions and I’m hoping that we will pursue them sometime in the fairly near future.
[Luckham]: - Can I add something there George?
That delegation of authority is quite an interesting tool and a mechanism which would indeed give many of the local trust areas the ability to make more locally supported decisions about agricultural land. So that was an exciting offer that came out of the conversation but it isn’t the Agricultural Land Commission would forgo all the responsibility, they would actually - they haven’t actually - they would have a 90 day or 60 day overruling period which isn’t likely they would do but it’s still retains their oversight on the decisions of the Local Trust Committee. So if we are going completely rampant and taking land ALR for golf courses and all kinds of other things, they’d have an ability to manage that but thanks for mentioning that George, that was a really good meeting.”
Henceforth I will be citing the transcrip as the “Grams & Luckham Duet”
Incidentally, “Executive” means the Executive Committee of the Trust Council which is made up of the Chair, Peter Luckham, (who also chairs the SSI LTC) and three Vice Chairs, one of who is George Grams – the ExCom has no plain members.
Grams does not identify who else partook in that meeting – Luckham may have been one of them but Grams withheld the names of others, if indeed there were others on either side.
For the October 22 LTC I had registered a delegation titled “What the Trust hides the People Must Know”. With it I urge the Trust to shake off their affliction with secrecy and to come out from the closet to level with the people. Do I need say that they “hid” my delegation? They did, indeed they did more that that really, they double- censored it! (“double- censored” means that they censored my delegation and then censored the fact that they had censored it, thereby dispersing suspicions about not knowing what they were doing). Here is the entry in the Minutes of the October 22nd LTC meeting:
“15. DELEGATIONS – None”
Precisesssssely, like SSI indignant fella, Jack Webster, use to say over the airwaves ...
Before moving on, I will copy here the Meeting Minutes coy rendition of the Grams & Luckham Duet :
“11. TRUSTEE REPORTS
Trustee Grams reported that he attended meetings with the following: The Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) regarding agricultural policy on the Gulf Islands;”
The Agenda for the November 19 LTC meeting contained the following item:
“15. APPLICATIONS AND REFERRALS...
15.7 SS-ALR-2015.2 - Capital Regional District - 181 Brinkworthy Road Agricultural Land Reserve Application for Public Recreation Playing Fields -Staff Report.
15.8 SS-RZ- 2015.2 - SS -BL- 486 - Salt Spring Squash Club 805 Lower Ganges Road Rezoning to Allow a Squash Court Facility -Staff Report.”
Finally! Here it is, the Trust has finally realized that they cannot any longer get away by burrowing and they are shyly coming out. As they usually do with unpopular cases, they scheduled the Brinkworthy land for last (7th of 8 applications), for the time of minimal public attendance. Except that on that day, there would be members of the public in attendance because the 8th of the 8 applications was one that would draw people – however they would be “sympathetic” to expanding the number of playing fields.
For that meeting I had registered a delegation titled “[Trust] Assaulting Democracy”, in which I answer Chairman Luckham’s request that I stop presenting delegations because I know that they censor them and whether I like it or not, that is what “they” will be doing. Not surprisedly, they censored that delegation too, but I will append it to this work.
I also presented through the Placard an article titled: “The Trust Strike Back”. In it I relate the Grams & Luckham Duet, because it is about transfer of ALC powers to the Trust – , such as the power to take the Brinkworthy lands out of the ALR. I neither defend nor offend the ALR – I take the position that what the Trust tries to do is a very serious matter and as such must be left to the people of British Columbia to decide, if and when the need arises. And that the Trust tunneling under the ALC must be halted.
I delayed distribution of the Placard until the time I would speak to it. Unaware of the Placard content, Luckham & Grams steadfastly denied having said what they had said on October 22.
I drew their attention to the transcript I put in their hands. and they changed the tune and said that what they meant when they did the Duet was other than what they had said!
I expressed my awe at their gall to say what they said and I challenged them to say on record that are not seeking powers to remove themselves the Brinkworty Lands from the ALR. Chairman Luckham pronounced ex-chair, on record, that they will not interfere with the ALC, if the Brinkworthy thing goes that far. This done, I thanked them and left the podium.
Down the day’s agenda was the “APPLICATIONS AND REFERRALS” group which included Item 17.7, the Brinkworthy file. When it was announced, I asked to be heard on a point of procedure and I handed the LTC an “extra edition” of the Placard with my point of order, all in writing. I will quote here the gist of it:
I told them that there was no PARC application document included in the Agenda Package that was before the LTC.
And I told them that PARC had told us their application to the Trust is a secret document – a “secred” document intended to be processed in public by the Trust?
And I told the LTC that PARC had requested a a formal FOI Access to Information application, if we want them to consider releasing this eminently public document to us. And that on November the 18th we had filed a FOI for it; and snow we stand in awe awaiting the outcome ...
And I told the LTC that since there is no PARC application document before them and since the LTC cannot process phantom applications, the LTC must abort the Agenda item about the Brinkworthy sport fields.
This caused a minor karfuffle. Chairman Luckham’s immediate reaction was an attempt to overrule the procedural point I raised; then he said he would read my submission later, after the fact; then Cermak intervened and produced the Agenda Package binder claiming to contain the PARC application – it did not. However, by attempting that, he confirmed that the PARC Application ought to be before the LTC and it was not. Evidently he confused a quote from it, copied in the Trust Staff Report, as being the PARC application which had gone AWOL. In effect he spoke as if he had never heard the universal ban on “quoting out of context”.
I also remarked that the fact that PARC refused to release their “application”, and that the LTC had wasted one and a half months, at least, with their Closed Meetings charade had raised serious concerns about the content of the application and the purpose of keeping it all under cover.
Neither Cermak, nor the “team of PARC officers” in attendance at the LTC meeting, attempted to answered.
Eventually, the LTC decided to refer the matter to the Agricultural Advisory Planning Commissions (“AAPC”) for review. As far as the public knows, the LTC send AAPC the “Answer”, i.e., the Staff Report, without the “Question” it was responding to, i.e., the PARC Application. Instead of chastising the Staff for providing a lame Report and sending them to bring it back complete with the PARC application, the LTC conducted itself as if no impropriety had occurred and this adds to concerns about the way the Trust moves on this file.
On November 26, I visited the Trust SSI office to take advantage of Cermak’s recognition on November 19th that the PARC Application is a public document. I thought I could obtain a copy of it from theTrust instead of awaithing the PARC response to my FOI. Well I was in for a surprise. It is a secret document the Planner with the Brinkworthy file said and denied my request! Surely I got more than I had expected for ...
I also requested the draft Minutes of the November 19, LTC meeting so that I could consider it in writing the paper at hand. They denied that, too!
Let’s now glance at the ulterior motive of the Trust. In recent times the Trust is fighting the people it was imposed on to “govern”. Many of the citizens feel that the “governing” done us by the Trust is unduly severe and have been calling for relief. Many people hold the view that the Trust has moved beyond the bounds of the reformable into the realm of the incorrigible and press for a Zero Basis evaluation of the Trust.
The way the Trust has moved in respect to the PARC Application at hand manifests its awareness that the “improved” soccer and other playing fields, in Brinkworthy are strongly resented by the citizenry. Yet they would not abide by propriety, but are trying to do the Brinkworthy thing surreptitiously. They know that conduct like that has fueled public resentment to the level that the incorporation of SaltSpring is more of a likelihood than a possibility. And while they are still fighting back, they recognize that the wave of change is too large to dissipate. The Trust is now actively working on “Plan B”.
If SSI incorporates, the Trust will suffer financially and would lose much of its power over the people which they so cherish. They are, therefore, desperately seeking to compensate for what they fear they are about to lose. The prospect of wrangling power to administer the ALR, even if partially, is very appealing to the Trust Brass. And that is what they stand to gain if Trustee Grams mission to the ALC reaches fruition.
It would influence the SSI incorporation debate too. Getting their hands on the ALR, would mitigate for the power loss from the SSI incorporation, but it would take quite a bit of the wind out of the sails of the ship of incorporation, as it would shrink the benefit differential expected from leaving the Trust.
Putting two and two together yields a picture in the mind’s eyes. I shared the transcript of the Grams & Luckham Duet and my deductions with the LTC at its November 19 meeting, and they gave me the impression that they did not appreciate me heralding it.
The fruits of sleuthing lead me to the following well-educated guesses about the Brinkworthy Playing Fields and PARC & Trust game:
PARC filed with the Trust an application, or simply “sounded out” the Trust regarding building playing fields at 181 Brinkworthy. Trust consent is a pre-requisite for a PARC application to the ALC for release of the 181 Brinkworthy land from the ALR.
Then the Trust and/or PARC sounded out the ALC about releasing the Brinkworthy A-1 Class Agricultural lands from the ALR. The ALC, true to its mandate, expressed strong aversion to releasing such a prime agricultural acreage to be turned into Soccer fields of dubious utility (see letters to the editor, presentations to the LTC and other expression of objection to recent PARC expansionism).
NB: Fate had it that as I am typing these lines the CBC broadcast the ALC order to stop holding weddings on a blueberry farm in the ALR, in Abbotsford. Whether this is excessive or not is not the point – the point I am making is that the event manifests that pushing for the removal from the ALR of 15 Acres of SSI agricultural land is highly unbecoming the Trust.
Additionally, review of the Trust’s own OCP, policies and practice, dictate the Trust object to the removal of the Brinkworthy Lands from the ALR. And so does the quest for local food sufficiency.
Backtracking momentarily to the October 1, LTC Meeting we find the following statement:
“Trustee Grams reported that he attended meetings with the following: ...; with the Chair of the Salt Spring Island Agricultural Advisory Planning Commission regarding Agricultural Land Commission policy; ...”
I find it downright improper for the Trustee to abuse his position so as to influence a tribunal that is about to decide the future of an application to “pave over” the Brinkworthy lands. It is much worse really, because Grams is doing the “lobbying” surreptitiously.
The reasons for the SSI AAPC existence is to receive and ponder matters like this and provide a learned and unbiased evaluation. It is therefore very disconcerting to perceive Trustee Grams treating the SSI AAPC as he did.
The onus to argue the case stands foursquare on PARC – it is they who must speak for themselves. And it is their duty to argue their case in front of the Public Eye and within reach of the Public Ear. And it is incumbent upon public bodies such as the Trust and the SSI AAPC to fend off influence peddlers, just as Court Judges do.
In the course of considering it, the AAPC would afford ample opportunity to PARC as well as the public to make submissions, I presume. PARC can partake and the people must have an equally fair chance to challenge the PARC contentions – that is how it is done in a democracy. It saddens me that the Trust did not advertise that; and that they did not advertise the AAPC meeting on the Brinkworthy matter.
Much more than that really. One expects PARC to have reasoned their request in their application to the LTC. They may have, but we do not know that, because both PARC and the TRUST shielded the PARC application from the public eye. Characteristically, after seeing the Trust burrowing underground on the Brinkworthy Lands matter, I send to the PARC office for a copy of their Application. They refused the request. They had the gall to demand a formal FOI access application of it!
I was after an eminently public document, one meant to be processed in the open by the Trust and, which if it survives the initial scrutiny, should go to public hearings. There is no conceivable excuse for turning that application into a “classified document”. In any event, we have “complied” and filed with PARC a FOI application on November the 18 – as yet (December 1, 2015), PARC have not even acknowledged the FOI application.
As I have already mentioned, at the November 19 LTC meeting , Stefan Cermak, the commander of the Trust contingent to SSI, intervened to discredit my assertion that they had not published the PARC application by claiming that the PARC application was in the Agenda Package Binder. And that when I asked to see it, they said it was “classified”!
A word now on the Trust Staff Report. I believe that the afore said facts suffice to neuter the Trust Staff Report. Because of that and the fact that a review of an Answer in isolation from the Question is, let’s say incomplete.
Having said that I will remark that the Staff Report has fundamental shortcomings fatal to it, even if considered in isolation from the Question it is meant to answer. I would expect it will receive the coup de grace that will spare us the need to analyze it to exhaustion. Let’s call it a day, let’s make it “enough said”.
The SSI page of the Trust Website has a section devoted to “News” – its professed purpose, is of course, to inform the society about events and occurrences in the purview of the Trust. The last I sought enlightenment there, (November 28, 2015 (3:10pm), that is what I got:
“Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee News
2. November 20, 2015 | LTC Meeting Highlights
The Protect Grace Islet group was awarded the 2015 Islands Trust Community Stewardship Award; A Public Hearing was held for Proposed Bylaw 483; Draft Bylaw 484 was sent for legal review; SS-HAP-2015.1 was approved; cash in lieu of parkland dedication was accepted for SS-SUB-2014.8; covenants were approved for SS-SUB-2015.2; and SS-DP-2014.5 was approved. The following were referred to the December 3rd Advisory Planning Commission Meetings: Draft Bylaw 487 (APC/AAPC);SS-RZ-2015.2 (APC); SS-ALR-2015.2 (AAPC).”
The “news” was made at the LTC meeting of the previous day, November the 19th which is not mentioned in the “news”. Moreover the “news” are incomprehensible, that is to say, they are reported the Trust way.
Do you find the News informative? Pray tell what is: “Draft Bylaw 487 (APC/AAPC);SS-RZ-2015.2 (APC); SS-ALR-2015.2 (AAPC)” ?
(Psss ....it is the Brinkworthy secret scheme, Sportsman-likely expressed, popularized for easy comprehension and simplified for easy absorbing – pass the word ...).
"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).
What transpired at that LTC meeting falls in the category of the Tragically Ridiculous.
The Trust places copies of the meeting Agenda on the “information table” for attendees to take one. This time they had not! It was not the first time they did that – it was the second!
The first time I saw them doing it was November 21, 2012 when the LTC did the RAR public meeting in that dark and stormy night, mid-week, at happy hour time, at the Fritz hideaway ... In the seven years I have been attending the SSI LTC meetings that is the only time I saw the Trust doing that before October 1, 2015 ...
At its meetings the Trust projects the Agenda on the wall of the hall for additional convenience to the LTC and the attendees. This time they did thatbut the Agenda was lame; that is to say it ended up with “item 17", to wit they had cleverly omitted “Item 18", their shutting out the people so they could discuss “Brinkworthy” in hidding.
At the Town Hall session, I asked RPM Cermac to scroll the agenda to “item 18". He became perturbed but could not do so – evidently they had removed it from the Viewpoint! The Three of the LTC, appeared perplexed, too.
Chairman Luckham came to rescue asserting that there was no “Item 18"! Which was, of course, telling not the truth. I observed that and and I told the meeting what “Item 18" was about. I told them that it was about the PARC Application to buld Playing Fields at 181 Brinkworthy. At that time I handed the LTC and placed on the Information Table copies of my Placard conveying my submission: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”
And then, I laft ...
“Luckham [Chair of the LTC]: George Grams
Grams [Member of the LTC]: Good afternoon everyone. These past few weeks since the first of the month it has been a fairly busy month.
As a member of executive, I had an interesting meeting with the chair of the Agricultural Land Commission and executive Price. Some of the unique issues we face on the island and indeed across the gulf islands as a whole promoting agriculture. It was over a - we had a thirty minute chat before hand and then over a working lunch and we found them very sympathetic to the needs of the islands. He made two interesting suggestions - the first was that we might make applications to the ALC to receive delegated powers to make certain decisions that are currently made by the panel who considers decisions for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and the second was that, in the interim, we make an application to address that panel to inform them of our duty, situation and circumstances. The executive seemed quite sympathetic to both suggestions and I’m hoping that we will pursue them sometime in the fairly near future.
Luckham: Can I add something there George? That delegation of authority is quite an interesting tool and a mechanism which would indeed give many of the local trust areas the ability to make more locally supported decisions about agricultural land. So that was an exciting offer that came out of the conversation but it isn’t the Agricultural Land Commission would forgo all the responsibility, they would actually - they haven’t actually - they would have a 90 day or 60 day overruling period which isn’t likely they would do but it’s still retains their oversight on the decisions of the Local Trust Committee. So if we are going completely rampant and taking land ALR for golf courses and all kinds of other things, they’d have an ability to manage that but thanks for mentioning that George, that was a really good meeting.”