The Strathcona Regional District board has set itself up for some pretty unpleasant accusations as a result of the way it has handled holding a hearing into a marina application by the Klahoose First Nation.
The bottom line is that the board is breaking with precedent by not holding the hearing on the applicant’s land. While the sensitivity to those who might want to speak in opposition to the rezoning is admirable, it has not often, if at all, been done before.
By giving into those opponents’ sensitivity, the board has alienated many Cortes Island residents, not just those living in Klahoose territory. Many non-Native residents of the island are disgusted by the board’s actions as well. The board has also upset Cortes Island’s representative to the board, Noba Anderson, who is urging island residents to speak out vociferously against the board.
The optics are bad on this one. The board’s decision has been accused of being racist and pandering to rich non-resident yacht owners. That can’t be a good way to conduct business, even if the charges are unfounded. It doesn’t look good.
Again, the precedent has been to hold the hearings on the property of the applicant and there’s no reason to not continue that precedent. To suggest that Klahoose Band members are going to be so hostile at a public hearing that opponents will be afraid to speak is insulting to the band. They may be passionate, they may have strong feelings but you have every right to expect to be treated fairly and civilly.
Meanwhile, to say it’s too difficult to travel to Klahoose territory for the hearing is a red herring as well. It’s just as difficult for Klahoose residents to travel to a hearing held in a non-band location as it is for others to travel to Klahoose.
Precedent says hold it in the Klahoose community. Stick with precedent.