I attended the CVRD Town Hall at the Cobble Hill Farmers Institute that was held in the middle of harvest season and in the middle of the day, which was supposed to be a Town Hall to speak to farmers about the proposed agricultural plan formulated by UpLands consulting group (not local).
Despite the horrible timing of the presentation, the hall was filled and farmers eagerly awaited to learn about the new agricultural plan presented to locals from some off-island consulting group that our tax dollars had paid for. The entire presentation that was later presented to the CVRD as “public engagement” consisted of telling farmers and landowners how the ALC and the Ministry of agriculture work (which we all know as we have to struggle with permits from them all the time). This was followed up by a “this is who we are” presentation from UpLands consulting. After that waste of an hour, we were still waiting to hear the ACTUAL plan, but were asked if we wanted to go into ‘breakout groups’, a well known ploy to reduce crowd feedback. The crowd filled with farmers who had had their water cut off, or had issues with bringing soil on their lands and other complaints refused the ‘break-out’ group idea. Instead everyone gave true feedback as to their frustrations with the CVRD, ALC, and The Ministry of Agriculture.
On Dec. 6th the CVRD once again held a meeting during work hours (1:30) at their offices. Though farmers were invited, they were not allowed to speak. The Chair of the meeting was asked by an audience member to allow the elders and farmers the ability to speak but were told that the policies and procedures took precedence, and called a five minute recess (instead of letting the farmers speak). When the meeting began again the audience were told they could write in their concerns, or attend a public Town Hall (which they already had).The presentation by UpLands was a farce and did not address the anger and frustration of land owners they had witnessed in their previous Town Hall.
The CVRD seems more interested in staff presentations around climate change, and false reports from highly paid contractors than they do hearing from the backbone of their community. I feel this will not end well in the end when our voices are silenced continually.
I watched the COAP Town Hall on Youtube that actually covered the Agricultural Plan for our area. Broken down into bite size pieces.
R. Rogers CVRD constituent