Citizens' Working Group

The provincial Office of the Ombudsperson has ruled that meetings of a citizens’ forestry Working Group are not required to be held in public because the group was created by a consultant rather than by North Cowichan council.

Vancouver consultant Erik Lees this week emphasized the importance of a “balanced” public consultation into the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve. But given the lack of transparency surrounding the citizens’ Working Group one wonders if that’s the case.

It took a freedom-of-information request to North Cowichan, but sixmountains.ca has finally obtained the official minutes of the first meeting of the citizens’ Working Group that is helping to guide public consultation on the Municipal Forest Reserve.

I drove up to Stoney Hill today, a sunny winter’s afternoon. I was not alone. The parking lot was jammed, forcing motorists to pull over on the roadside up to two blocks away. Traffic came to a complete stop while frustrated drivers wondered what to do next.

Meetings of the newly appointed citizens’ Working Group on future management of the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve are not open to the public, but sixmountains.ca has at least obtained some basic background on the individuals selected.

Transparency: "We encourage a high level of disclosure regarding the process and results, as well as clear communication regarding how those results are used.” (Source: Lees and Associates winning contract bid.)