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Waste-to-energy controversy impacted the mayoral race – candidates

Director Jim Abram’s “false statements” greatly affected Campbell River’s mayoral race, says outgoing councillor Ziggy Stewart.

Stewart, who ran for mayor along with fellow outgoing councillor Roy Grant, says Strathcona Regional District Director Abram’s newsletter regarding a mass burn site tainted the election.

“His comments caused irreversible damage to mine and councillor Grant’s mayoralty campaign,” Stewart said. “I expect him to acknowledge he was wrong and apologize publicly to myself, councillor Grant and really the citizens of Campbell River.”

Abram wrote in his twice monthly director’s report, distributed to his constituents on Quadra Island, that “Campbell River has high hopes for a facility at the Elk Falls mill site for a ‘mass burn site’ site...that means no sorting, just dumping raw garbage into an incinerator and lighting it up.”

The Waste-to-Energy facility was one of seven options a consulting firm laid out in a report to the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management Board for dealing with the region’s solid waste. But Stewart said that option did not make the short list for consideration and said Abram’s report contained “false statements.”

“He flat out lied,” Stewart said. “He could’ve corrected his statements at any time, but he chose not to. This was politics at its worst, which overshadowed common sense with fear and misinformation.”

Stewart said during the election campaign, rumours of a mass burn site spread like wildfire and both he and Grant received several angry phone calls and e-mails. One e-mail, from a community-formed advisory committee, lead by Duncan Bay road residents, singled out Grant and Stewart for supporting burning garbage at the Elk Falls mill site and told other members of the group who they should and should not vote for. “It was all based on Abram’s comments – they were false,” Stewart said. “So all of this was crap.”

Abram said his newsletter had nothing to do with the election.

“I cannot be held responsible for what happened in the Campbell River mayoral race,” Abram said. “I’m not going to rise to the bait. The fact is I was reporting what came out of the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management meeting (Nov. 3).

“I apologized profusely to both candidates who feel they have been wronged at the meeting, apparently for something I had no intention of doing.”

Grant said Abram’s words have caused irrepairable damage.

“This article was very unfair to the Campbell River directors around this table (Regional District) and to the two incumbent city councillors not on the SRD (Strathcona Regional District) Board,” Grant said. “Then, without bothering to first gather any facts, and with the purpose of fear-mongering to the Campbell River public, this article was used by one of the Campbell River mayoral candidates by advertising ‘no burning garbage’ in both local newspapers, the day before the municipal election.

“It doesn’t matter how the Quadra director (Abram) tries to stickhandle his way around this  issue, it did significant irrepairable damage to our community. What a way to destroy the trust, the collaboration and teamwork we (most of us) had built up over the years.”

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