Klahoose Chief boycotts meeting

Leader of the Cortes Island-based First Nation is angry with the Strathcona Regional District

  • Jul. 25, 2013 8:00 p.m.

The Klahoose Chief boycotted Wednesday’s public hearing for the First Nation’s land re-zoning application after he called out the regional district for making “a mockery of the application.”

Klahoose Chief James Delorme said the Klahoose Resort Limited Partnership (KRLP) was voluntarily working with the regional district on a project to build a new marina in Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island.

Delorme said things were going well while working with regional district staff, but then took an abrupt turn once the application, and decision of where to hold the public hearing, reached the four electoral area directors.

“KRLP was voluntarily participating in the rezoning process out of respect for the SRD (Strathcona Regional District) and because Klahoose wishes to work with its neighbours,” Delorme wrote in Tidelines – an online Cortes news publication. “We did, in the expectation our application would receive fair treatment. This expectation has been proven false by the actions of the SRD.

“Chief and council and our board of directors and KRLP staff will not be attending the public hearing,” Delorme continued. “The recent actions of the SRD board and the Electoral Services Committee leave me no other alternative.

“I am forced to take this step because the SRD board and its committee have sullied the process by inferring Klahoose First Nation would use intimidation and coercion to sway public opinion should the meetings be held at the multi-purpose centre.

“Consequently, the actions of the SRD have made a mockery of this application. If the board so chooses to make itself look ridiculous, we cannot stop you. However, we will not stand by you or validate this process any longer.”

Delorme was referring to the board’s decision to decline the Klahoose’s offer to hold the public hearing at the Klahoose multi-purpose centre and instead chose the Gorge Hall, a site directors deemed neutral, not in the applicant’s territory.

Area D director Brenda Leigh and Area A director Gerald Whalley referenced letters the board received from people intending to speak at the public hearing, but felt they may be inhibited while in the Klahoose community.

Leigh also wanted a neutral site to prevent bias and avoid any unnecessary pressure on directors.

The board went even further to avoid the perception of bias when it removed Cortes Director Noba Anderson as chair of the public hearing.

That disappointed Delorme even further.

“The removal of chair from the process simply because she expressed an understanding of the nation’s frustration with the actions of the SRD leads us to believe that there is a faction within the SRD that is pushing this process toward a pre-determined decision that is not favourable to the interests of the Klahoose First Nation or Klahoose Resort Limited Partnership,” Delorme wrote.

“Additionally, this highly unusual step leaves one with the impression that Klahoose were peddling influence or engaging the chair in an unprofessional manner. I am extremely angry about this.”

Cortes resident Lovena Harvey attended Wednesday’s public hearing, but left as soon as she had her chance to speak, in a show of support for Klahoose.

“My faith in the SRD board has been severely damaged due to this rezoning application,” Harvey wrote.

“How can you call a meeting fair and unbiased when the applicant is not present, when no one representing the Klahoose First Nation spoke directly?”

The next step for the board will be to consider third reading of the re-zoning at a future board meeting, likely on Aug. 7.