‘Legally bound’ words disputed

As the first incorporation referendum advance poll opens today (Wednesday) and the formal debate runs tonight, public disputes about specific topics remain heated.

In a press release issued Monday, the Positively No group called on trustees George Grams and Peter Grove, and CRD director Wayne McIntyre “to correct misleading statements made by the pro-incorporation Yes campaign about a municipality’s legal obligation to the Islands Trust.”

The no-side refutes the yes-side’s claim that a municipal council “will be legally bound to support Trust aims.”

Instead, Positively No campaigners are emphasizing wording in Section 39.1 of the Islands Trust Act, which states that a municipality in the Trust Area “must have regard to the object of the trust in adopting a bylaw or issuing a permit or licence.” They feel “have regard to the object” does not constitute being “legally bound.”

“Our three elected officials have already intervened to accuse a private citizen of circulating material within the community they believed to contain ‘false assumptions and material inaccuracies,’” the Positively No group states, referring to the elected officials’ chastisement of islander Brenda Guiled after she critiqued road maintenance costs and methods used by consultant Urban Systems in its final incorporation study report.

“We call on our elected officials to follow their own precedent, to publicly correct these misleading claims and to prevent further misrepresentation of this important issue.”

Grams told the Driftwood he does not agree with the Positively No group’s interpretation of the legislation.

“It is quite clear that municipalities within the Islands Trust are legally bound by the Islands Trust Act,” he said. “Clause 38 of the act demands that a municipal council must have its OCP bylaws or revisions, and any rural land use bylaws, approved by the Trust’s executive committee. The bylaws have no effect in law unless so approved. This is a legally binding requirement.

“Clause 39.1 states that a municipal council must have regard to the object of the trust in adopting a bylaw or issuing a permit or licence. This is also a legally binding requirement.”

For more on this story, see the Aug. 23, 2017 Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper or subscribe online.

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