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Islands Trust
Posted March 11, 2022

The Trust without Garb

Trust CAO Russ Hotsenpiller buried the 35-Page (plus Annexes) “Trust Governance Report” deep in the 800-Page Agenda Package of the March Council meeting. This because the document is not the tune the Trust was expecting the Consultant-piper to  play. Hotsenpiller sidetracks and  bypasses the Trust  Special Governance Committee who had ostensibly retained the Great Northern Management Consultants, “GNMC” to do that Report.  Hotsenpiller conveys the  Report to Council with a cleverly couched recommendation to toss the $75,000 Report. The elected  Committee “understood” and fell silent on being usurped by Hotsenpiller.

By hiding the Report, Hotsenpiller resolutely discredits the GNMC  who pronounce the Trust an “Open” Government! I could rest the case here but I will not.

Consultants routinely project an image of credibility, for that is what they sell. However, primarily they produce what they were hired for and which usually is other than  the professed intent. But the Trust is badly wanting and the GNMC  could not conceivably cover it all up. The Trust became surly when the Consultant could not deliver.

I will quickly sample the surface of the Report before I dive to fathom it. On the surface float the token wrist-slaps to the Trust, such as  “more committees should be appointed”,  “Having concerns about efficiency”,  “Trustees and staff need  work together”, the “Trust listens” and so on. And they urge “increase Trustees pay to get better people to run”. Surely we need no more of that and I will dive to where the big fish are.

Colonial Structure:

* The GNMC condone the Headquartering of the Trust extra-territorially in Victoria, and suggest more of that. They recommend a sub-Trust-Head Office in Nanaimo!
Had GNMC been dilligent, they would have found past attempts to get the Trust Headquarters moved to SSI and would have learned that my crucial reasoning for that is that SSI has the population to provide public attendance at the meetings of the Executive Committee, which, propaganda aside, is used by the Staff to “govern” us.
Characteristically, after learning that no member of the public had ever attended an ExCom meeting I tried to attend myself. The extent to which the Trust went to avert that, is the stuff “shame” is made of.

* Still on the subject of colonialism, the GNMC found nothing wrong in the Trust practice of catapulting  overseers overseas to control the “branch-plant, token-democracy”  LTCs. Must we believe them on that?

* The GNMC turn a blind eye to the Trust deploying “token” Democracy to take the wind out of the sails of the quest for Local governance. Must we believe that GNMC  do not know that a “pair”, even if dutifuly elected, maketh not a “Legislative Estate”? Much more so when the “pair” is delivered to an overseer catapulted “inter-island”, to keep them in line? Are they so remiss in their calling as to be unaware, uninterested, or fail to understand the recent effort of View Royal (pop 11,800); and Qualicum Beach (pop 9,000) to expand their Local Governance Councils from five to seven?

* Is the Trust Council a legitimate “democratic parliament”,  given that one of its member “Trustee-pairs” represent a population of 11,000 (SSI) and the other 12 pairs representing, on the average 1,250 constituents each, down to some 200 for the smallest?

* Is it “democracy” when a Governance Committee, ostensibly charged to reconsider the governance the Trust provides, has no  representation from SSI, the island with 11,000 inhabitants, 40% of the total population suffering the Trust?
* Did the GNMC  find any BC Local Government outside the Trust electing a two-member Council? Have they found many who elect only five?

* What conclusion did GNMC draw from the Trust deliberately, blatantly dishonouring its mandate to protect and preserve Booth Canal? Does not the letting-the-Canal-die discredit the Trust’s ability to answer the mandate “to protect and preserve” the natural features of the Island?  Did Hawk-eyed GNMC  miss Booth Canal?  

* How do  GNMC reconcile the renowned governance-from-the-dungeon practised by the Trust with democracy?

Economics & Finance:

* Did GNMC miss the Trust wasting public money on Consultants producing Reports like the one at hand and the “Islands 2050 superfolly?

* Where is the GNMC  recommendation of higher-pay-for-Trustees gauged against the pay of similar elected positions in BC?

* Where is the rationale of the  financial acumen of the Trust wasting public money hand over fist in parachuting Trust overseers to the 13 LTCs?  

I could go on, but enough said to certify the GNMC Report conforming to my chemistry teacher’s definition of (hot) air,  as being “colourless, odourless and tasteless”.

It was in 2009 that I first offered to do a pro bono, non-binding, review of the Trust. The only condition being, that I would publish a one-page abstract of it. The Trust never mustered the decency of even an acknowledgment.

Bits  & Bites

Will the Salmon ever return to Fulford Creek?

In the 1970s I was fortunate to become friends with Andrew Stevens, a SaltSpringer, uncle of Homer Stevens the legendary leader of the Fishermens Union. Andrew was in his eighties at the time but nimble to tickle the piano keys and spritely enough to be inspired by Alex Haley’s Book “Roots” to learn Greek, the language of his father – his mother was indigenous. Among others he burned in my mind a school memory he had. I owe it to him to share it with you.
Anxious to impress upon her pupils the immensity of the number of blood-cells streaming in the arteries of the human body, his teacher told them they were as many as  the salmon in Fullford Creek.    

That was then. Where have the salmon gone?
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