PHILIP ROUND / ECHO STAFF / COMOX VALLEY ECHO
AUGUST 12, 2014 02:03 PM
New proposals from Courtenay Council that could lead to a solution to the Maple Pool campground dispute outside the courts are being treated with a heavy dose of cynicism by the Friends of Maple Pool.
They have issued a lengthy statement after receiving a five-page letter signed by acting mayor Bill Anglin following an ‘in camera’ meeting last week.
As reported in Friday’s Echo, that behind-closed-doors meeting was held so councillors could decide how to respond to suggestions made by the Friends for ways to resolve issues the City has with the ongoing residential use of the campground.
The council said compromise was possible, but it would take goodwill and clear commitment on all sides if an acceptable solution was to be reached. As part of that approach, it offered to suspend its legal action against Maple Pool at least until the new year.
And that has clearly infuriated the Friends, who are a group of businesspeople and other supporters of campground owners Jin and Dali Lin who have offered to fund and carry out improvements to the site to allay concerns over future flooding.
The Friends say the offer of a suspension is simply a “deception” because there is no trial date set at the moment, so even if the council ordered its legal action proceed immediately, there would be little chance of scheduling a hearing until well into 2015.
“The offer is devoid of content,” they comment. “Councillors are attempting to claim credit for a generous ‘suspension’ of the lawsuit when the reality is they have no way of pushing it forward in the next few months.”
“The council must commit absolutely, irrevocably, once and for all, to a termination of the lawsuit right now, immediately. Not until the new year, not sometime down the road after the November elections. Now.”
The Friends also raise questions about the council’s offer to consider a ‘unilateral rezoning’ of the campground rather than insist the Lins go through the regular lengthy and expensive rezoning process.
While they acknowledge the issue of rezoning was discussed when City staff met on a “without prejudice” basis with two representatives of the Friends – Mike Hamilton and Andrew Gower – as far as the Friends and the Lins are concerned it is still a moot point whether rezoning is needed at all.
And beyond the zoning issue, they insist that council “must commit to the basic principle that Maple Pool shall remain open and its residents will be allowed to continue residence there” if progress is to be made.
Only if the legal action is terminated, and the assurance of future residence is given, do the Friends believe all the other more detailed issues can be sorted out to the mutual satisfaction of all sides.
The Friends acknowledge some of the matters raised in the council’s letter are “positive suggestions” they can accept.
But they say they are “treading very carefully and cautiously” in offering their response because “we have been misled and deceived repeatedly by council in the past.”
In summary, they add: “The City response as it currently stands essentially asks us to buy a ‘pig in a poke.’
“(They are saying:) ‘Leave it with us – we’ll initiate a rezoning process which will take until well after the coming election, but we can’t guarantee the results. We’ll initiate other procedures as well, but can’t guarantee results until after the election.
“That’s not good enough. Council has had four years to solve this situation and has done nothing whatever toward that end.
“Now they prepare to kick the ball down the field until after he election. (They are saying:) ‘Trust us for another four years and we’ll do something – but we haven’t yet figured out what.’
“The Friends of Maple Pool say council must show us what they can do BEFORE they seek our vote.”
* The full response from the Friends can read on their website – www.friendsofmaplepool.ca – in the section ‘Official statements.‘