CHRISTOPHER CAUSTON ON PAYING TO SAVE WFP LANDS: ‘It’s not my money’

Mayor of Oak Bay wants to take Denise Savoie’s seat away from NDP

 

Christopher Causton is the rumple-haired Mayor of Oak Bay who was acclaimed by the Federal Liberal’s Victoria Riding Association last year to stand as that party’s candidate in the next federal election.

Without once mentioning the name of the lady who currently holds the Victoria seat in the House of Commons which he covets, Mr. Causton addressed about two dozen writers in a small reception room last night in the noisy Fernwood Inn pub for what was billed as an ‘un-press conference’ by Mat Wright, who sent out the invitations by email. 

Mr. Wright introduced the Liberal candidate as the man who chaired the Capital Regional District’s parks committee which recently committed to buying a big chunk of prime real estate called the former Western Forest Products lands, to save it from inappropriate subdivision.

That was meant to be understood by the assembled scribes as a good thing, and it probably is the lesser of two evils at the moment, as the only other alternative would appear to be to let the BC Liberals have their unholy way with these controversial land deals, chopping them up to make suburban sprawl all along the coast.

In a mock show of humility, Mr. Causton hastened to interrupt Mr. Wright to inform those assembled that ‘it’s not my money… it’s your money, folks!’  The sophisticated crowd lapped it up, notwithstanding the bitter truth of the remark.

After introducing himself as a person who slept three nights in Cool Aid when he first arrived in Victoria, and then going on to buy and build up a number of Victoria restaurants with his family, including Camille’s in Bastion Square and Rattenbury’s in the old Crystal Gardens building, Mr. Causton then proceeded to answer some questions from the floor.

The first was from Robert Randall, former Victoria City Councillor candidate, who inquired about ‘social problems’ and nocturnal safety issues in downtown Victoria, including provision of needles and other drug paraphernalia to addicts.

Mr. Causton deplored the history at Cormorant Street where a ‘stand alone’ facility was run for a number of years, causing serious dismay and real problems to neighbours.

He acknowledged that there are serious ongoing problems on Pandora Avenue caused by this same cohort of addicts, and advocated for a ‘dispersed model’ of needle and other drug paraphernalia distribution by VIHA, which he maintained would be preferable to the old Cormorant Street ‘stand alone’ model.

I took that to mean that he favours needle and crack pipe distribution in every Victoria neighbourhood already served by neighbourhood clinics, whether there are addicts there now or not.

Mental note to self: another ‘harm reducer’ on the rampage.

Ross Crockford, an associate with Mr. Wright and Yule Heibel in the JohnsonStreetBridge.org advocacy group, asked a question about amalgamation, which strictly speaking is not a federal government matter, but Mr. Causton was quick to dismiss amalgamation by referring to a book which he said proved conclusively that no cost savings were ever forthcoming to Canadian cities that amalgamated.

Mr. Crockford said that he wasn’t so much concerned about saving money as co-ordinating regional planning.

Sitting next to Mr. Crockford, Yule Heibel countered that she had also read the book referenced by Mr. Causton, but that it was no longer relevant, as it was written in the 1960s.

Her voice was not audible to all in the room, as rowdy partiers in the adjacent pub kept drowning her out.

She bravely attempted to raise her voice a decibel or two, but clearly was not used to playing the professor in a pub.

A lady name Janis and another sitting next to her asked about what Mr. Causton later called ‘computer connectivity’ for rural areas and the poor in Canada, and without getting specific, Mr. Causton allowed that he would certainly favour more ‘connectivity.’

I sensed an odd kind of nerdish pride coming from these two ladies, anxious as they were to have everyone know that they were the self-annointed nodes or hubs of like-minded computer-connected communitarian circles.

They almost mocked Mr. Causton for his being out of touch because he didn’t Twitter, nor was he apparently inclined to send messages without verbs, and Mr. Causton, ever the crowd-pleaser, acknowledged the great post-modern sin of his ineptitude in terms of computer tricks.

The subtext of all this nerd talk seemed to be that if Mr. Causton didn’t get with it by Twittering and setting up a Facebook account and soon, he would surely lose the next election. 

At this point, seeming to lose patience ever so slightly, Mr. Causton emphasized that he was not the sort of candidate who had a wish list of a dozen or so issues that he would champion, but that he would apply the same philosophy to his federal duties (should he be elected to perform them) as he had done all through his political career, which was simply to serve the people as best he could, to bring improved service to them (or something vague and non-commital like that).

Sitting in front of me was a young man who I believe was addressed as ‘Chris,’ and who identified himself as one of a number of Victorians who had started the Vibrant Victoria website about four years ago.

He admitted that one of the main reasons why that site had been established was to provide a forum for those who favoured higher buildings in Victoria, built by what he called unnamed ‘good developers.’

While building height restrictions have been relaxed considerably in the last fifteen years under the Cross and Lowe Liberal regimes, the matter is not a federal one.

However, this young man was under the misapprehension that Victoria City Council was not progressive enough in this regard, and still needed to get behind more ‘good’ skyscrpapers, supposedly to make Victoria more ‘vibrant.

Mr. Causton then gave him a short history of the issue, going back to the days when highrise development threatened to turn James Bay into our very own West End.

Christopher Causton credited Mayor Peter Pollen with bringing in the ten storey limit which prevailed until recently, and suggested that while he was not opposed to highrises generally, he found that some of them, promoted as being of high quality, were actually deficient in many respects.

As an example of these, he cited the still-unfinished The Falls on Douglas Street, which he says is having difficulty selling its units, due to poor workmanship and shoddy finishing materials used.

He preferred the new shorter curved Aria, running from Cridge Park northwest to the corner of Douglas and Humboldt, behind the Crystal.

As for why many Victorians don’t embrace the dense downtown vision of Victoria promoted by Vibrant Victoria, he simply said, ‘they don’t like change.’

I asked Mr. Causton two questions, one pertaining to the Afghan war and Canada’s involvement in it, and the other to the Capital Regional District’s ludicrous sewage treatment issue.

On the war, I wanted to know if Mr. Causton supported the current Liberal Party of Canada position on the war, whatever it is, and how that policy was different from that of the ‘Conservative’ government of Stephen Harper. 

I was also curious to know whether Mr. Causton dissented from that policy in any way, and if so, what were his revervations.

I found his answer to be ambiguous, although he did admit that the question will be foremost on the minds of politicians in Canada next year, when the Canadian Forces are expected to withdraw.

He emphasized the need for a careful and gradual withdrawl, so as not to leave those friendly to the occupiers subject to reprisal from the Taliban.

This sounded like a veiled admission that those people had already won the war, which he suggested was ‘two thirds done.’

On the sewage issue, he said he favours a referendum on the issue, but acknowledged that the BC Liberals had just passed legislation which would make a referendum on the sewage issue impossible.

He would support maintaining the federal government funding a 1/3 share of the project.

On leaving, I bumped into Mr. Wright and Mr. Crockford in the patio outside, and asked them why they didn’t ask him about the Johnson Street Bridge.

Mr. Wright answered that ‘he will support whatever the community supports.’

I thanked them both for their input, but made a mental note not to vote for Mr. Causton, mainly because of his positions on the war and the needle issues.

 

– Gregory Hartnell, Editor

Concerned Citizens’ Coalition

CCC

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2 Responses to CHRISTOPHER CAUSTON ON PAYING TO SAVE WFP LANDS: ‘It’s not my money’

  1. John says:

    Causton says that the Liberals have made a referendum impossible? Test that in court, please!

    There has already been a referendum on funding sewage treatment in the CRD (1992) – and
    the funding failed! How can politicians – Liberal or otherwise – treat a democratic referendum with such a cavalier attitude?

    Same Liberals also say that there won’t be an environmental impact assessment on the sewage project under the BC Environmental Assessment Act – just a skimpy inadequate assessment under
    the Municipal Sewage Regulations.

    Fail!

    This CRD project is a mega-sewage project that is going to kill Haro Woods community forest and impair the neighbourhoods of Vic West and Burnside Gorge, not to mention where all the sewage sludge will be spread.

    Wake up Victoria! This project is going to have major NEGATIVE social, economic and environmental consequences for our community.

  2. goyodelarosa says:

    Thanks, John.

    Are you aware of an organized group that is doing a petition on this issue, to go to referendum?

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