Grant in aid debate

Outstanding Cortes Issues

The following letter is my personal opinion and necessarily shared by the Cortes Radio Board, staff, volunteers or membership.

Dear Chair Babchuk and SRD Board Members:  

I want to thank Mr Yates and SRD staff for the manner in which they oversaw yesterday’s referendum, but need to point out that there are still outstanding Cortes issues to be addressed.

Firstly, Cortes Island re-elected a Regional Director last year: Noba Anderson. Having sat through a number of Electoral Areas Services Committee (EASC) and SRD Board Meetings, I believe her ability to function has been severely curtailed.

The October 26, 2019, Referenda

The referenda which finally occurred yesterday was once proposed to have taken place months ago. Instead, the November 28, 2018, edition of the Campbell River Mirror reported Directors Abram and Leigh suggesting this was too fast. Leigh had heard concerns from Cortes residents via email. Nothing new about this. Cortes residents have long known that a minority of residents oppose the hall tax. However, thanks to the interference of Directors Leigh, Abram and presumably board members of a like mind, this was enough to delay matters. 

I hope the 413 to 136 (preliminary) vote on October 26, 2019, was sufficient for the SRD to finally get the message. You are listening to a minority, and ignoring the wishes of the majority of Cortes residents.

Our Directors Outstanding Legal Bills

An extremely flawed legal petition, filed by 14 Cortes residents, has been cited as the reason for your inaction.

Outstanding Cortes Matters
Page one of the joint lawyers submission
Page two of the joint submission, which Justice Skolrood signed off on.

I was in court the day the plaintiff’s and defence lawyers filed a joint statement stating there was “NO BASIS” for the plaintiff’s allegations. Judge R.A. Skolrood signed off on this submission, adopting it as his decision.

While I realize the SRD needs primary sources, how long does it take to access this document? 

Assuming you have seen it, what justification does the SRD have for not paying our Director’s bills – when the court ruled that there was “no basis” for the allegations brought against her?

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Harry A Wenngatz, sat mutely throughout the “trial” as the defence lawyer, Matthew Voell, tore the allegations in the legal petition apart. Wenngatz presented no evidence. His only “defence” for these frivolous allegations was to say his clients had been put up to the lawsuit. 

When I approached Mr Wenngatz to ask for a statement after the trial, he said that I should talk to the defence lawyer and then reiterated that his clients had been put up to the lawsuit. He would not say who put them up to it.

FOCI Transportation Grant

Having sat through a number of EASC and SRD Board Meetings earlier this year, I am disturbed by the manner in which Directors Leigh, Abram and Whalley [who, with Director Anderson, are the Electoral Areas Services Committee] continually oppose Cortes matters. 

Outstanding Cortes Issues
Regional Director Jim Abram – Courtesy SRD website

Most recently, what happened to the Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI) application for funding to hire a transportation coordinator? Directors Whalley and Leigh voted down this down on June 12, 2019, without any discussion. The matter was brought before the whole SRD board on June 27, 2019, where it quickly became apparent that Whalley did not even know what he was voting on! Never-the-less, the SRD Board referred the application back to EASC, where Whalley and Leigh promptly voted against it again. The FOCI application finally returned to the SRD Board, who appear to have received (October 9, 2019) and most likely forgotten about it.

Outstanding Cortes Issues
Regional Director Brenda Leigh – courtesy SRD website

Are Directors Abram & Leigh Complicit?

I find myself wondering how Abram and Leigh are complicit in some of the actions undertaken by a dissident minority on Cortes Island. On at least two occasions, I witnessed Directors Abram and Leigh recuse themselves from voting on Cortes Grants in Aid for “legal reasons.” On more than one occasion, there have been references to Director Leigh’s decisions being shaped by communications from Cortes Island. 

Some argue that the SRD Board, as a whole, has failed to support our Regional Director.

Cortes Island elected Noba Anderson on October 22, 2018. When will EASC, and the SRD, let her be our Regional Director? 

Thank-you very much

Roy L Hales

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