Another view of the outside of the Saltair Community Centre.

Another view of the outside of the Saltair Community Centre.

Refusing referendum on Saltair Community Centre violates trust

Request goes back to before CVRD’s purchase of the property

On December 15, Cowichan Valley Regional District Corporate Secretary Joe Barry sent an email to a Saltair resident. In part, Barry said, “However, if you are still thinking that there might be a referendum regarding the Saltair Community Centre, the Directors do not support holding a referendum.”

Before the property was purchased in 2014, Saltairians asked for a referendum. After the property was purchased in 2014, another local resident offered to pay for a referendum.

In 2015, when it was said updating the building could cost $1 million, Saltairians again asked for a referendum. In 2016, when it became widely known the building contained a lot of asbestos and mould counts 55 times higher than normal, Saltairians asked for a referendum yet again.

In 2017, when the CVRD obtained a building assessment that indicates maintaining and updating the building over the next 10 years will cost $3 million+, 628 Saltairians petitioned the CVRD for a referendum. This is the petition our CVRD Directors have just denied.

Although the CVRD is not required to conduct a referendum about spending Saltair tax and grant dollars on the old school building, its failure to do so in the face of Saltair’s repeated requests is a matter of trust. How can we trust politicians who do not care what the clear majority thinks or even try to do what the clear majority wants?

Allan J. MacEachen was a long-time Liberal cabinet minister, Senator and Cape Bretoner. He died in September 2017 at the age of 94. MacEachen shepherded in medicare, the guaranteed income supplement for pensioners and national labour standards. He once said he thought maintaining trust with the electorate was the “very basis of politics.”

Apparently, Director Mel Dorey and his ilk at the CVRD are not like-minded persons.

Gord Van Dyck

Saltair