Between being instrumental in starting the new Lantzville Farmers’ Market and being President of the Bowen Road Farmers’ Market, a lot of people are asking where things are at with our 23 month long legal battle with DOL (The District of Lantzville).
In the last edition (here is the link: www.synergymag.ca/compassion-farm-update-may-2012), we shared that the latest harassment from DOL pushed by the old guard was yet another ‘inspection’.
In addition, a couple of Lantzville residents brought us two wheel barrow loads of pine needles which resulted in the CAO (Chief Administrative Officer) Twyla Graff ordering RDN’s (Regional District of Nanaimo) “Zero Waste” bylaw enforcement officer, Maude Mackey, to courier a letter to the said residents telling them that their actions of sharing such materials with us was “illegal” and subject to fines of up to $200,000.00.
Here is the link to the story written up in the Nanaimo Bulletin: www.nanaimobulletin.com/news/157573295.html
On April 24th we were informed by mail that another bylaw enforcement officer would be “Inspecting our rain barrels”.
Like being told “Wait till your father gets home!” or “The boss wants you in his office”. Most of us find waiting for outcomes (especially negative ones) stressful. We have already had more than 20 such letters and visits from bylaw enforcement, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and so on.
In short, after several emails asking when the bylaw officer would would visit, it was finally arranged. The bylaw enforcement officer finally came June 8th (which was 46 days after being told that an officer would “inspect our rain barrels”).
Our emails to the CAO were met with her telling us she was busy, repeating past words and giving no (further) information; therefore, not answering our questions, thus, in effect, again stonewalling us.
The CAO is paid $126,000.00 per year. Our community only has 1,592 dwellings and 3,600 residents.
Nicole and I have found it disturbing that on a number of occasions, it has taken a week or more for the CAO to return an email to answer a simple straight forward question concerning basic policy and procedure.
Whereas a Lantzville resident gives us a few pine needles and within two to three days receives a couriered letter containing threats of legal action against them for “illegal dumping” on our 2.5 acre farm?
Earlier in this 23 month boondoggle debacle, the same well paid authorities went through the phone book and sent letters to every landscaper, tree service, trucking company (even excavation companies!) telling them that they were not “permitted” to “dispose of any materials” in Lantzville. Their net was cast to at least Ladysmith as we had a company send us the said letter which stated, “While Lantzville… offers its citizens a number of essential services, we do not have any licensed facilities or approved sites that are able to receive yard waste materials (eg, grass clippings, leaves/branches, wood chips, etc.). Therefore discarding these types of materials within the boundaries of Lantzville is not permitted.”
Recently some residents did an ROI (Request for Freedom of Information) regarding the tens of thousands of dollars spent persecuting us over the last 23 months. They were stonewalled. Two other residents recently put in a ROI in order to view ‘evidence’ that was used against them in a bylaw infraction and the CAO told them,
“By law, I have 30 days to respond to your request and I am busy”.
It has become more and more evident that the power structures around us have grown into increasingly untouchable ‘ivory towers’ that are quick to tax and enforce but slow to serve.
As one resident whose family has been a part of Lantzville for three generations put it:
“Functionally, the district seems to have drifted from an attitude where the administration existed to serve residents to one where residents feel they exist to support an expensive administration.”
To most, this ‘attitude’ would not be obvious unless they find themselves coming up against it. As more residents find out about our issue, the more we receive phone calls, emails, letters and people showing up at our door sharing their own story, offering support and/or asking us for support with their issue.
What is the purpose of ‘city hall’? Who pays their salary and who are they there to serve?
Currently we have a new mayor who is reasonable, two new councilors who are progressive, one new councilor who has consistently supported the old guard and one swing voter.
In the last election, Lantzville went from a 22% voter turnout to a record breaking 44%! Clearly some are choosing to have their egos and dogged obsession with rules and bylaws to dictate their decisions.
Lantzville council has an obscene track record of in-camera (secret) meetings which allows the old guard to obfuscate both the decision making process and how they vote.
Wherever you live, if you care about the community you live in, it behooves (no pun intended) you to become involved on an ongoing basis from policy making to who you work to elect to and/or remove from office.
If we do nothing, we get what we deserve. If we fully participate in the so called ‘democratic’ process, then at least we have consciously done something to steer the titanic, that is our culture, in a better direction.
Remember, you can “Fight City Hall” and you can win. It starts by shifting the current paradigm of who is there to serve whom?
Dirk Becker is a do-er, some of which includes supporting people on their path, being a socio-economic-political-environmental activist, an organic farmer, agricultural advocate and assists in the creation of this publication.