Maple Pool protest creates animosity among friends

Friends of Maple Pool held a protest march on Monday.
Around 60 people that included city council hopefuls came out to rally against the city’s on-going lawsuit against Maple Pool for non-conforming to the city’s land-use bylaws. They started at Simms Park and then marched on to city hall where they called for the end to the lawsuit. The group was able to relay their message loud and clear.
However, the protest also stirred an added controversy, but not at city council. It has started a discord in the ranks of the Friends of Maple Pool group.
One member, Andrew Gower, publicly vented his personal frustration over the group’s action. He indicated some people, who have a vested interest in the coming municipal elections, instigated the protest. He felt the Maple Pool case has been politicized and is being used by some candidates to either get elected or for some others, get re-elected.
Gower, who has helped the owners of the controversial campsite Jin and Dali Lin in the last three years, has stated this in a lengthy letter he posted on a blog and also shared it on the Friends of Maple Pool facebook page. (It is also online in the Letter section of www.comoxvalleyecho.com)
The local businessman indicated that the protest was the brainchild of council hopeful Bob Wells. The march he said was nothing more than just “political grandstanding.”
Gower’s letter, however, ended up being read at the last regular council meeting. It was brought forward by councillor Doug Hillian.
While he acknowledged that Maple Pool is an outstanding issue and is on top of the community’s concerns in this year’s municipal election, he feels the public has not been fully informed that council last August made a genuine attempt to resolve this issue. He said Gower’s letter reflected council’s action.
“From my perspective, it makes it very clear the city has done some significant work primarily with our August 6 letter that provides the basis for resolution of the Maple Pool challenge,” said Hillian. “Regrettably, from my perspective, the situation appears to have been politicized. But it appears from Mr. Gower’s letter that we in fact have a resolution that can in fact be implemented. I think it will be useful to just share the information in the letter and have out in the public record given the fact that this council took a stand in August towards a resolution.”
Last August, council proposed it was willing to consider a “unilateral rezoning” of the property that would allow for multi-residential affordable housing units, subject to certain conditions. It also was willing to suspend the lawsuit to allow Friends of Maple Pool and its supporters more time to carry out improvements to the site to allay concerns over future flooding.
But Friends of Maple Pool rejected council’s resolution. It wanted the lawsuit terminated. As well, they felt the action was introduced because there was an election coming.
While Gower indicated his disappointment over Friends of Maple Pool’s protest, he failed to indicate to council that he is working on mayoral candidate Jon Ambler’s campaign, which Wells raised in a rebuttal press release against Gower’s letter. He felt the letter questioned his motives and integrity.
“I completely believe in freedom of speech, but in this case I truly believe that Andrew should have disclosed his conflict of interest due to his active role in Jon Ambler’s campaign, and at the very least made time for me to discuss my concerns over his comments Monday,” said Wells.
While the protest march was his idea, Wells said, he had no part in the planning. The group voted on it and it was passed. – See more at: http://www.comoxvalleyecho.com/news/local/maple-pool-protest-creates-animosity-among-friends-1.1586447#sthash.ltDbd9WJ.dpuf

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