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North Cowichan releases list of recommended appointees to new Environmental Advisory Committee

North Cowichan has publicly released a list of individuals recommended for appointment to a new Environmental Advisory Committee — but won’t divulge any information about them.

On the list are Sandy McPherson, David Coulson, Neil Anderson, Shannon Waters, Ashley Muckle, Cameron Campbell, Bruce Coates, Per Dahlstrom, Jana Kotaska, Jesse Patterson and Geoffrey Strong.

The individuals were selected from among 35 applicants. Zoe Dalton has withdrawn from the committee due to other commitments.

Tricia Mayea, the municipality’s deputy corporate officer, told that individuals applied for membership on the condition their “personal information (which includes occupational or educational history) would be protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

I question that council policy. On principle, the public has a right to know basic information about these people — and that should be a requirement of their application.

“You are always welcome to submit a Freedom of Information request to access records,” said Mayea. chose instead to do its own research, and found the following:

— McPherson received a BC Achievement Community Award in 2019 for her community work, and previously sat on the Environmental Advisory Committee.

— Coulson is in the design and construction business and has an interest in green building practices.

— Waters is medical health officer for Cowichan Valley and a member of Stz’uminus First Nation (Ladysmith).

— Anderson sits on the board of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society.

— Campbell’s expertise is visual landscapes; he's adjunct professor and lecturer in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of BC.

— Coates is a retired geologist who co-chairs Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society.

— Dahlstrom has been a realtor in the Cowichan Valley since 2004.

— Kotaska is associated with Green Fire Farm in the Cowichan Valley, and completed a PhD on reconciliation and relationships between First Nations and the BC government.

— Strong is a retired atmospheric scientist and climate lecturer.

At the committee’s first meeting on Feb. 16, Muckle described herself as a fourth-year biology and environmental studies student at the University of Victoria.

The committee, chaired by Councillor Kate Marsh, will provide council with regular advice on issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, natural areas, watershed protection, air quality, and climate adaptation.

Mayea says committee meetings will be live-streamed to the public during the pandemic. Unfortunately, they won’t be archived. Individuals who cannot watch the meetings live will have to rely on the minutes, which can often be subjective. Citizens also have the option of attending meetings in person post-pandemic.

The committee was shut down after the last election to provide council time to determine its priorities.

(Dr. Shannon Waters photo courtesy of Island Health)

— Larry Pynn. (Jan. 19, 2021, updated Feb. 16, 2021)


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