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Opposition drive fails to derail region's $1.8-million tote-and-truck trash plan

Bill Dumont is leading a push to halt the new CVRD plan to turn south Cowichan waste collection into a public utility. - Peter W. Rusland/file
Bill Dumont is leading a push to halt the new CVRD plan to turn south Cowichan waste collection into a public utility.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland/file

Cowichan region's proposed tote-and-truck garbage and recycling plan is poised to proceed after an opposition drive failed Monday, initial results show.

Kathleen Harrison, Cowichan Valley Regional District's deputy-corporate secretary, said staff received just more than half of the 10% of electoral-response forms required to scrap the $1.8-million garbage plan, or force a referendum.

While 5.137% of forms — about 1,275 — were received from regional voters by 4:30 p.m. Monday, Harrison declined to say how many forms that percentage represents as some may be spoiled, or ruled invalid during official auditing.

CVRD directors could adopt the public waste plan once they get the officials results Dec. 12 from Harrison.

But chairman Rob Hutchins said his board will now mull AAP results, and public feedback, before deciding about the trash plan.

Opponents, such as Bill Dumont, needed to collect and submit 2,550 official forms — 10% of the CVRD's eligible electors — by Monday's deadline.

"I'm disappointed we didn't get the numbers," he said. "We got out there too late."

But Dumont was upset by what he claimed is a process "stacked against" locals.

"We're not even allowed to be present when the ballots are being counted."

Hutchins said staff found no provincial provision for scrutineers.

"Forms have people's names and addresses. We suspect it has to do with privacy. I have no difficulty with the integrity of our staff."

Some people had trouble finding AAP forms at CVRD offices, and on the its website, Dumont added.

But the AAP notice started in August with advertising, mail outs and more, said Hutchins.

"The link for forms was on the front of the CVRD's homepage since the start of the 30-day AAP process."

Paper forms had to be delivered to Duncan's CVRD offices, and couldn't be completed on line though folks were told to download them there, Dumont said.

The CVRD also rejected forms faxed from residents travelling out of the area.

But Hutchins said AAP documents need original signatures. "There are also questions about receiving time. People were given plenty of notice. If there's a way to tweak it, we'll take that into consideration."

And Dumont claimed the CVRD lobbied the province to "raise the bar" to 10% of required forms, from a previous five percent — which opponents may have reached in this AAP.

"It stinks. It's so difficult to get the 2,550."

Hutchins said, "I don't recall any such resolution at our board table."

Official electoral results will appear in a CVRD agenda publicly available Dec. 6.

Staff's AAP report heads to the board Dec. 12.

It will detail count results, with form numbers received and counted valid or invalid, plus reasons for spoiled forms, Harrison explained.

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