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www.comoxvalleyecho.com Tuesday April 22, 2014
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Volume 20, No. 32
Decision day for new Evangelical church and community facility By Philip Round Echo Staff For nearly 20 years, the congregation of the Central Evangelical Free Church of the Comox Valley has yearned to have a permanent place for worship.
And tonight (Tuesday) their hopes and prayers could take a big leap towards being fulfilled as Courtenay Council votes on granting a development permit for a new church on Inverclyde Way. If approved, the final push to raise the necessary funds will get under-
way with a view to starting construction in the spring of next year, lead Pastor Dave Koleba told the Echo. And he promised the new building, designed to accommodate more than 460 worshippers, would be a multi-purpose structure specifically intended to be an important commu-
nity facility, too. The main auditorium would have removable seats so that it could be rented for events such as dinners, wedding receptions or sports activities, and there would be a cafeteria and smaller side rooms that could double up as space for Sunday School
or discussion groups one day and be children’s activity centres or community meeting rooms on another. The chosen site for the church is nearly five acres of vacant land at 2700 Inverclyde Way, at the end of Carstairs Drive. (Continued on page 2)
‘Positive progress’ in K’ómoks treaty talks By Philip Round Echo Staff
Ski seaon ends with Crush Slush Cup About 30 participants signed up for the Crush Slush Cup April 20, in which contestants with a gnarly side took off down a mini-mountain constructed outside the chalet with a healthy crowd of onlookers cheering and jeering in jest as they took of and touched down in a giant pool of water with a splash. Children dressed up in costume
joined the fun, and “divers” were in the pool at the ready to ferry them to safety. You could spot a number of animals from giant frogs to sasquatches to Easter bunnies all getting in on the action. The event marks the penultimate day on Mount Washington’s alpine calendar, which started out with low snow challenges only to enjoy quality
powder for the second half of the season. Or as the Slush Cup announcer put it while addressing the crowd lining the ice-filled pond: “Three cheers for the season that almost didn’t happen! Hip hip horay! Hip hip horay! Hip hip horay!” Photo by Drew A. Penner/Echo Staff
Positive progress on treaty negotiations between the K’ómoks First Nation and both the federal and provincial governments is being reported by the Band’s chief negotiator, Mark Stevenson. It is now three years since an Agreement in Principle was endorsed in a vote of the K’ómoks people, and two years since that AIP was formally signed by all three governments to set the parameters for detailed negotiations. But getting to a final treaty, including an agreed settlement of all cash and land issues, is inevitably taking time and it is in everyone’s interests to get it right, Stevenson told the Echo. He recently reported to Band members at their annual treaty update meeting that the next 12 months should see many key issues coming to a head. And he is optimistic that things are heading in the right direction, with goodwill on all sides to reach a fair and final settlement that will be put to the 300+ Band members in another vote. The annual KFN meeting had been really successful, Stevenson noted. “There was a good turnout, a good spirit and good exchanges. That’s very important.” He assured Band members that negotiators were making progress on a number of issues and that “nothing negative is happening.” He added: “It all just takes time, and we understand that.” In particular, he told the Echo, there has been good progress on economic development issues and opportunities, and the role the Band sought to play in pursuing commercial and employment initiatives. (Continued on page 2)
19 Wing Commander heads up disaster training contingent in Peru By Drew A. Penner Echo Staff When Col Jim Benninger, was asked to head up the Canadian contingent as part of Pan-American disaster training mission he leapt at the chance. He was named Air Task Force Commander for the Royal Canadian Air Force as part of the third installment of Exercise COOPERACIÓN, an effort to build international cooperation between friendly military forces through dryrun scenarios April 19-May 2. Under his command are military goods such as a 426 Squadron CC-130J Hercules transport plane and a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from 413 Squadron, and a 429 Squadron CC-177 Globemaster III. He will also take charge of crews joining the foray from 8 Wing Trenton, 9 Wing Gander and 14 Wing Greenwood. Of course he will be a little more familiar with Cpt. Trevor Reid and Sgt. Yan Senechal, who hail right here from 19 Wing Comox - where he serves as base commander. In total about 60 members were tasked with taking part in the mission which focuses on providing
disaster relief, and represents an opportunity for the Canadian military to try out a few tricks that have never been tested before. This is the first time Canada will try to squeeze a Cormorant into a C-117 and would represent an improvement on disaster relief and other military functionality. It’s also the first time a Cormorant has headed outside of North America on official business. As Canadian Forces busied themselves at a military airbase in Peru attached to Jorge Chávez International Airport, a port which served more than 15 million passengers last year, Cpt. Trevor Reid paused for a moment to describe the excitement building among fellow soldiers. “It’s looking pretty good right now,” he said, explaining the complex process involved in removing rotor and tail blades from the helicopter. “We’ll have a test flight tomorrow morning.” Another first for the mission will be using the specially designed air transport kit, which is a crucial component of taking parts of the Cormorant apart and reassembling the yellow bird flawlessly. (Continued on page 2)
A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter is loaded into a CC-177 Globemaster III in preparation for deployment to Peru to take part in Exercise COOPERACIÓN III, a key Latin American multi-
national exercise with a focus on disaster relief, which will be conducted from April 19 to May 2. (Wing Imaging)
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A2 Comox Valley Echo Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Comox Valley Weather
Tuesday, 22 April A mix of sun and cloud. 60% chance of showers. High 12°C.
Wednesday, 23 April Cloudy. Low 6°C. High 13°C.
Thursday, 24 April Showers. Low 8°C. High 12°C.
Friday, 25 April Cloudy. Low 7°C. High 13°C.
Saturday, 26 April A mix of sun and cloud. Low 6°C. High 13°C.
For the latest Comox Valley Weather visit: www.comoxvalleyecho.com
Sprinkler system construction causes hedge fire By Drew A. Penner Echo Staff
Firefighters easily had their way with this Cousins Avenue blaze. Photo by Drew A. Penner/Echo Staff
‘Positive progress’ in K’omoks treaty talks (Continued from page 1)
Stevenson stressed the Band is eager to be seen as business-oriented, seeking joint ventures with the private sector rather than the KFN itself ending up as a government employer. On other issues, he was reasonably optimistic that important outstanding matters involving fisheries, migratory birds, long-term forestry licenses, and fiscal issues - particularly around health and social services - could be settled by later this year. “For sure, there is goodwill to get these resolved,” he commented. “That’s clear at the table.” The big make-or-break decision could come in the spring of 2015, Stevenson believes, when the province and federal governments might be ready to make their final cash and land offer. The AIP blueprint already includes a proposed $17.5 million cash settlement and offers a transfer of more than 5,000 acres of Crown land to the K’ómoks people if a final treaty is agreed. There has already been movement on the land issue, with the offer of an additional 2,000 acres that was to have been the site of
the thwarted Sage Hills development south of Courtenay. And Stevenson also noted there had been good progress with the federal government on the tricky issue of easy road access to additional lands at the end of Goose Spit, beyond HMCS Quadra. Land areas already known to be on the table are Williams Beach Forest (665 acres); Williams Beach woodlot eastern portion (593 acres); Williams Beach woodlot western portion (96 acres); Browns River (91 acres); Hornby Island gravel pit (27 acres); Hornby Island ‘2’ (6 acres); Salmon River (184 acres); Royston Forest (1,637 acres); Mount Washington gravel pit (146 acres); District Lot 7 Union Bay A (45 acres); District Lot 7 Union Bay B (46 acres); Wood Mountain (251 acres); Sandy Island (81 acres); and H’kusam near Sayward (395 acres), and the tip of Goose Spit. Existing Indian Reserve lands that will be totally transferred to the ownership of the Band are: Comox Road IR #1 (152 acres); Puntledge IR #2 (206 acres); Goose Spit IR #3 (13 acres); and Salmon River #1 at Kelsey Bay, near Sayward (395 acres). Other elements in the AIP being
Decision day for new church (Continued from page 1) The proposed stucco-faced building would be at the back of the site, approached by a tree-lined boulevard through a landscaped parking lot for 129 vehicles. Essentially, the building will be a two-storey structure, but with a higher partially pitched roof feature and high-level windows in the centre. Most of the main auditorium at the heart of the church will be the full height of the building, bathed in light from the side and roof windows, with the other ancillary rooms on both the first and mezzanine floors around it. City planners are recommending councillors approve the necessary permit, commenting: “The project provides a high level of quality and design, carefully integrated with the access and landscaping.” The site was zoned for a potential future church nine years ago, but at the time it was agreed a development permit would be required in time to ensure the scale and look of the building and the amount of landscaping were appropriate in what is a residential neighbourhood. The planners say those tests have been passed.
Koleba praised the designers of the project - Richard Jasper and Harry Whitfield of Courtenay-based Studio 2009 Architecture Ltd. - for the way they had interpreted what had been a quite complex brief. “I have to doff my hat to them they have captured the essence of everything we wanted for the church and the community,” he said. “They have created an attractive, multi-purpose building that has the atmosphere of a church when needed for worship, but which can quickly become a banqueting hall, public meeting space or gymnasium and look equally appropriate for those functions. It has been thought through really well.” Koleba said the present congregation, which currently meets for worship in the theatre at North Island College, was not large but was pretty determined. All involved with the church were convinced God had spoken and urged them to keep focused. “So for more than a decade, nearly two in fact, they have been very fixed in their goal and have been fundraising for this moment. “Now is the time. We feel that unless we go ahead and jump in right up to our necks we will lose the opportunity.” email@example.com
progressed steadily through the negotiations include constitutional and self-governance issues; the retention of hunting, fishing and gathering rights; the ownership and maintenance of roads; access to water supplies for future development; and various cultural mat-
ters. Stephenson reported that for some of these issues, negotiations had now reached the stage where they were “dotting the Is and crossing the Ts” in some chapters of the drafty treaty. firstname.lastname@example.org
As flames soared over a metre, licking up past a birdhouse, firefighters raced to the scene of a Cousins Avenue blaze that was threatening a two-story house. Dennis Henderson, assistant fire chief of the Courtenay Fire Department, said the fire started when radiant heat from a machine installing a sprinkler system in the backyard lit the hedge on fire. “If it happened just a couple of weeks later he could have just turned it on,” he noted. “It didn’t take long to knock it down.” The irrigation company had been at work on site when exhaust from the pipe puller heated duff in the several meter high hedge on the property line to the point of ignition. Henderson said it was lucky the property backs onto a park, as this prevented the dangerous situation from turning disastrous.
Resident wants a water park built in Comox By Michael Briones Echo Staff During the summer months, when the temperature heats up and become unbearable for everyone, especially the kids, the water park is one place where you can cool down. The City of Courtenay and the Village of Cumberland have this type of parks but not in the Town of Comox. One parent has written to council requesting that it seriously look at the possibility of building a water park for the community. Lauren Clark said the town has wonderful parks like the Marina Park, Anderton Park, Lancaster Park which she and her two young children enjoy during summer. A water park she said would be a great addition and enhancement to the community. “As a thriving population of 12,000, the town of Comox would benefit from offering an outdoor water play-
ground for all ages to enjoy,” said Clark. Clark feels there is a shared desire in the community for this type of park and considers it an ideal recreational activity for both young and older children. “It is a free and safe environment, supervised by parents, does not require a lifeguard, and is accessible to all abilities,” said Clark. An ideal location, Clark suggested, could be off a major artery but built it within a park that has a playground like those in the Victoria area. Clark said whenever she visits her family in Victoria, they head to one of the many water parks and join other families soaking up the sun and splashing with fun. Clark commended the town for investing in the Comox Recreation Centre’s gym and the recent upgrades to Anderton park that included a fitness circuit and renovation of the tennis courts. However, she noted that they cater mostly to the adult
population. “Perhaps it’s time to consider our youngest Comox community members whose parents and grandparents are also constituents and contribute their hard earned tax dollars to the Town of Comox,” she said. Town council indicated that it doesn’t have extra funds for such a plan but agreed to refer the request for staff to review for consideration.
Steak dinner, dancing at Legion’s Tacky Tourist Friday Night It’s Tacky Tourist Time at the Courtenay Legion on Friday, April 25! Haul out your craziest Caribbean shirts, Mexican sombreros and Hawaiian grass leis and join us for an evening of great food and dancing. Steaks, baked potatoes with all the trimmings and tropical salads served at 6 for just $10. Meat draw starting at 6:30. Crosstown Express will play from 7 on. Members and bona fide guests.
19 Wing Commander leads mission in Peru (Continued from page 1) “This adds a new capablility to the air force,” he said. “It’s gone smoothly so far.” Reid described the significance of the RCAF’s role in Sistema de Cooperación entre las Fuerzas Aéreas Americanas (SICOFAA) - or as the Canadians like to call it: the System of Cooperation among the Air Forces of the Americas. “This is the second time that Canada’s taken part in an exercise like this,” he said, pointing to the difficulties that lie ahead, such as ensuring the aircraft navigate geographically challenging terrain near Pisco. “I think this exercise is very important for the RCAF.” SICOFAA, headquartered out of Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, in the US, is a concrete way to develop support networks between nations of the Western
318 A Duncan Ave., Courtenay (Corner of Duncan & 3rd St.)
Hemisphere, allowing countries to act more fluidly when called on to do so. The organization focuses on air operations, human resources, education and training, search and rescue, disasters relief, telecommunications, aerospace medicine, weather, prevention of plane crashes, and scientific research. Benninger indicated particular enthusiasm with the exercise he was chosen to lead. “Cormorant crews have demonstrated time and again that they can help those in need at home,” he said, “and through this exercise Canadians can be proud to know that we are demonstrating our ability to help those in need abroad.”
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Comox Valley Echo Tuesday, April 22, 2014 A3
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Watchdog: BC needs to rethink its privacy settings Local lawyers cite problems with info in police checks By Drew A. Penner Echo Staff Defence lawyers are cheering a stern report from BCâ€™s privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham, where she urges the province to stop releasing unproven allegations, mental health records and other â€œnon-convictionâ€? information as part of background checks. Courtenay defence attorney Dennis Evans, who participated in the consultation process, said the sensitivity of law and daily practice has not kept pace with our new digital reality. â€œThis is unacceptable,â€? Evans said. â€œEverything gets disclosed including suicide attempts.â€? Denham calls her report April 15 report possibly â€œthe most important
one I have issued since I became the Information and Privacy Commissioner in 2010,â€? because it highlighted many of what she describes as highly questionable practices surrounding police information checks in the hiring process. Evans knows this first hand. â€œI had a client that was charged with theft,â€? he said, describing a 2010 ordeal. â€œIt turned out she actually owned the property.â€? While he was able to sort out the situation by sending a copy of ownership papers of the item to the Crown, a year later the incident came back to haunt her when she applied for a job at 7-Eleven in Courtenay. â€œYou canâ€™t get a records check with just convictions on it,â€? he said. â€œIt raises red flags for any employer.â€? On top of convictions (â€œwhich is what most people think is being disclosed,â€? commented Evans), pending charges, discharges and local police files are also released. What then is returned is a â€œMay or may not contain a recordâ€? status, he explained.
This largely defeats the purpose of the legal system, which is supposedly founded on principals of innocence until guilt is proven, he added. â€œI donâ€™t think local police files ought to be disclosed to anybody period,â€? he said. â€œThe whole point of a conditional discharge or a stay of proceedings is it isnâ€™t a record.â€? Lawyer Robert Miller was in agreement that the status quo is not working. â€œItâ€™s about time,â€? he said in response to the privacy watchdogâ€™s report. â€œIâ€™ve had several clients that have been refused employment.â€? The damage is often done to people who struggle with mental illness or fighting systemic injustice, he added. â€œThey disclose absolutely everything,â€? he said. â€œThey have enough problems as it is.â€? Eric Chesterley recalls defending a client who left the Comox Valley for a trip to Las Vegas. She did not have a criminal record but was turned back at the border because of unproven police charges.
â€œThat surprised me,â€? he said. â€œItâ€™s kind of mortifying.â€? In a world where reams of data are being scooped up by police, immigration and other officials, now is as good a time as any to reconsider what kind of safeguards we put on peopleâ€™s personal information, he said. â€œI think itâ€™s quite positive,â€? he said in response to the privacy commissionerâ€™s report. â€œI think this is something we should be discussing. What information should be available and who should we be sharing it with? Should it be shared with Homeland Security as a matter of course?â€? Chesterley noted heâ€™s had at least two other Comox Valley clients who were refused entry at the US border not because they were convicted of a crime but because officials had access to local police files. â€œYou get to the border and you say, â€˜I was acquitted,â€? he said. â€œThey donâ€™t have the court records and transcripts. They just have the police reports. â€œItâ€™s all stuff thatâ€™s available to be
accessed off the cloud.â€? This brave new world is an eye-opener to Evans, who in a previous life actually worked as a customs official at the border himself. Back then, he remembered, there was no access to the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database, which provides details related to wanted people, those who are on parole and contains an in-depth look at criminal records. And they certainly didnâ€™t have access to the Police Records Information Management Environment (PRIME-BC). BC was the first to adopt this online police records management system in February 2003. The irony is that because a there is an official process to have convictions removed from your record, whereas none exists for wrongful accusations, in some cases a client would be better off pleading guilty to a crime they didnâ€™t commit. â€œThereâ€™s no procedure for removing them,â€? he said. â€œA wrongful accusation is going to remain on her record for eight years.â€?
Volunteer firefighter recalls 25 years of triumphs and tragedies By Philip Round Echo Staff In life, many of us wear different hats. For John Ward, at least one of those hats is very real - in fact, itâ€™s a firefighterâ€™s helmet. When the alarm goes off at home, he wakes, dresses and heads off to City Hall where he is Courtenayâ€™s Director of Legislative Services. But when the alarm goes off at the fire hall, he frequently becomes Senior Captain John Ward, one of a dedicated group of volunteer firefighters always on call to protect life and property. And his dedication to the cause in the Valley over the past 25 years has now been recognized by the award of a long service medal by the province. There are currently just three such medal holders at the fire hall - the others are Fire Chief Don Bardonnex and Assistant Chief Dennis Henderson. And while two more of the 42-strong team will hopefully join them over the next couple of years, there will likely then be a very long gap indeed. Thatâ€™s because times have changed from the days when volunteer firefighters were able to give decades of service to the community, says Bardonnex. Modern pressures of work and family, and greater mobility with people moving around the country or taking on careers with unusual shift patterns, sometimes in different locations, mean far fewer people can commit to the cause for more than a limited time. Thatâ€™s a big headache for fire departments across Canada, especially in small to medium-sized communities that rely on volunteers to make up the
Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex (right) holds the 25-year service medals presented to Senior Captain John Ward (left) - who, wearing another hat, is Director of Legislative Services with the City of Courtenay. vast majority of their teams. More than half the members of the Courtenay department have served for less than five years, said Bardonnex, and there is, on average, an 18 per cent turnover each year. â€œWeâ€™re always taking applications, and next month weâ€™ll be starting up a new class so weâ€™re looking for about a dozen good candidates,â€? he added. Applicants must not have a criminal record, but should have a reasonably clean driving history, be 19 years of age or older, and have a medical note from their doctor to say they are fit enough for the task. Those who throw their own
hats in to the ring will be interviewed and put through a physical test before the final trainees - both men and women - are chosen. Although, like Ward, all will be volunteers, they wonâ€™t serve for free. Those who successfully complete the training will be paid an hourly rate whenever they respond to a call-out. And there are about 500 emergency callouts a year in Courtenay an average of almost ten a week. Volunteers are expected to be able to respond to at least 30 per cent of them over a year, potentially risking life and limb whenever the sirens sound.
Ward first joined the Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department in 1982. â€œI was following in my fatherâ€™s footsteps, as he served in the volunteer fire service for 34 years in Cumberland and ten in Union Bay,â€? he explains. But 21 months after signing up, John left the community in 1984 for work, but he and his wife returned to the Comox Valley five years later in 1989. â€œI was approached by the Deputy Fire Chief, Grant Lupton, to join the Courtenay Volunteer Fire Department,â€? he recalls. â€œI had no idea they were looking for members, and I thought I would give it a try. â€œLawrence Burns was the Fire Chief at the time - he continues to be an important part of our department and a tremendous source of support for me personally.â€? â€œGiving it a tryâ€? has so far spanned 24 years with the City team to add to his earlier Cumberland service, and over that time he says he and his colleagues have witnessed many tragic events as well as triumphant successes. â€œOur members perform their duties out of a strong sense of community and a desire to serve,â€? he says. â€œThey donâ€™t do it for the money or for recognition. â€œThey selflessly leave their jobs, their homes and their families at all hours of the day and night to drive to the fire hall, get on a fire truck and help others. â€œThey do this consistently, month after month, year after year. And if we are lucky, we keep them for decades.â€? He also notes the volunteers never stop training, and all the Courtenay members have NFPA 1001 - Fire Fighter Professional
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Qualifications - Level 2. Encouraging others to apply, he adds: â€œThere are many benefits to joining a volunteer fire department, including learning new skills, helping your community, and meeting new people. In fact, I have met all of my best friends through the fire service. â€œI believe all our communities in the Comox Valley area are extremely fortunate to have committed, highly trained and dedicated volunteers serving our citizens. But we always need more.â€? He concludes: â€œI am proud of my service, but there are many firefighters who have served far longer than I have. We owe them a great debt.â€? Bardonnex agrees, but is keen to highlight Wardâ€™s personal contribution to the fire-rescue service. â€œJohnâ€™s put his heart and soul into it. His dedication to the community and his commitment to the department has been outstanding,â€? he says. â€œFor any volunteer firefighter to achieve a 25 year service medal in todayâ€™s world is amazing. Itâ€™s the kind of experience you definitely donâ€™t want to see walking out the door.â€? firstname.lastname@example.org