‘Surprised’ council says Maple Pool door remains open

Philip Round / Echo Staff / Comox Valley Echo
August 15, 2014 06:59 AM
Surprise has been expressed at the hostile tone of an official statement on the Friends of Maple Pool website to
overtures made by Courtenay City Council to try to resolve the campground controversy.
As previously reported in the Echo, acting Mayor Bill Anglin presided at the ‘in camera’ council meeting where a
response was agreed to proposals from the Friends seeking a solution outside the courts to the contentious land use
Anglin subsequently signed a five-page letter addressed to local businessman Mike Hamilton, representing the
Friends, now posted online on the City’s website at www.courtenay.ca
It opened by setting out what councillors understood the group wanted following face-to-face discussions with senior
staff, and went on to address the various issues raised, offering to seek compromise on a number of matters. Solutions, Anglin acknowledged in the correspondence, would require goodwill and clear commitments from all sides. The council offered to suspend legal action to give time for other matters to be mutually agreed, including a stated willingness by councillors to consider a ‘unilateral rezoning’ of the campground to avoid the site’s owners from having to pursue an expensive rezoning application of their own. But in the unsigned ‘official statement’ on the www.friendsofmaplepool.ca website – reported in Tuesday’s Echo – the council’s letter was treated with a heavy dose of cynicism. The demand was made for the immediate termination, not deferral, of the City’s legal action, and the statement also raised doubts and questions about the proposed ‘unilateral rezoning’ offer. That trenchant response has taken councillors by surprise, as they believe they were offering an olive branch to resolve the issue by going along with many of the points raised in the discussions Mike Hamilton and Andrew Gower had with staff.

On Wednesday of this week, Anglin – who currently continues as acting mayor – told the Echo: “We honestly believe we had given them what they asked for – and we remain committed to finding a workable solution for everyone. “There are issues to resolve, but we believe we opened a door to a way forward, and it remains open. “We took all the steps we could to build on the constructive suggestions that came out of what was clearly a productive and positive meeting between Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Gower and our senior staff, so it was a surprise to read how our response to their proposals had been received.

“We remain committed to working with the designated representatives of the Friends of Maple Pool to resolve these
issues. We did not believe there were any ‘showstoppers’ in our response, and we remain convinced there are none.”
Anglin said whatever action was taken at the campground had to resolve safety and liability issues that could arise
from further potential flooding, but he believed the discussions had indicated potential ways forward with appropriate
action on all sides.
The council had offered to suspend its legal action in the meantime, but it was not realistic to expect it to be
terminated at this stage – although he pointed out the conclusion to his letter to Hamilton had stressed “the council
has not set a hard and fast date by which the above must be addressed.”
The letter had indeed gone on to say the matter of the litigation and proposed rezoning would be considered again
“early in the new year,” but that was maybe six months away.
He hoped a lot of positive progress towards resolution of outstanding issues could be made in that time since the
groundwork for a possible solution had, in his view, now been laid.
And even if all the ‘I’s had not been dotted and ‘T’s crossed, if council could see concrete progress by the new year,
he could not imagine why a deferral of legal action would not continue until the matter was resolved to everyone’s
satisfaction, at which point it could be shut down.
© Comox Valley Echo

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