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Still no movement on advisory planning body for Cortes Island

Area director says Cortes is missing opportunities to comment on land proposals
Area B Director Noba Anderson asked the SRD board to consider alternate names for her area’s advisory planning commission. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

While a couple of other Cortes Island issues are back on the regional district’s agenda, the status of the Area B advisory planning commission (APC) is still uncertain.

At the March 13 meeting, the board brought a back bylaw to establish taxes to support first responder service. As well, it also discussed the proposed community hall tax for Cortes, though it wants more information before moving on the bylaw. However, there is still no action from the Strathcona Regional District board to approve filling the vacant APC for the island.

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Earlier this year, a majority of the board chose to put these matters on hold following the launch of a legal petition against Area B Director Noba Anderson by 14 people over conflict of interest allegations in connection with a GoFundMe campaign.

At the meeting in mid-March, Anderson hoped the board could proceed with an alternate list of names for the APC on Cortes.

“I’ve presented to you here a list of five names … people who are not in any way directly linked, as far as I’m aware, to the petition,” she said. “This is my attempt to get a functioning group back.”

She said hoped the board could see its way to support the list.

“At least, the APC can be back up and functional,” she said.

Anderson said that in light of the fact the APC has been inactive, the electoral area had missed being able to provide input on a couple of important developments earlier this year. The area also is in the middle of an update to its zoning bylaw.

“The APC is actually a really critical body on Cortes,” she said. “We’ve already missed the opportunity to comment on two large land referrals.”

Anderson admitted she had to be careful in discussing the matter in light of the legal situation.

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After the APC report with proposed members was removed from the January agenda, along with the two referendum issues, so the board could get legal advice, any board discussions have been held in camera. Anderson has had to recuse herself from discussions for these topics.

“Of course, I’m not privy to those discussions,” Anderson said. “I have literally only my assumption about what might be happening.”

At the March 13 meeting, other board members were wary of discussing the matter. Area C Director Jim Abram expressed concern because the item had not officially been brought been back and was worried the board was veering into matters that were part of the in camera discussion.

Chair Michele Babchuk reiterated his point about the currently confidential nature of the issue.

“This is a very tenuous situation,” she said.

The board received the report and voted to bring the item back at its subsequent in camera meeting. Staff clarified the legal opinion on the matter is the specific issue that was still in camera.

RELATED STORY: Strathcona Regional District members question planning commission process

The issue of the APC is on the agenda for this week’s SRD board meeting, though only as a piece of correspondence from Cortes Island resident Christine Robinson. (Note: this story went to press before the March 28 meeting.)