Rattled Mayor and Town engineer crank up spin machine

On April 2, 2020, Mayor Brian Wiese and Town engineer Bob Weir were issued a federal Compliance Order to stop construction that had continued for weeks — despite many warnings — too close to a heron rookery. Second Opinion QB featured the story on Aug 24, 2020, Mayor Wiese and engineer Weir ordered to stop violating federal law.

In reading an article published by the PQB News on Sep 9, 2020, Compliance order lifted, we noted several statements made about this matter that need to be corrected for the public record.

Colby Brose’s mistaken impression that “this was a rookery that was previously unknown,” and “we found a new rookery…”

Brose’s statements are wrong. As reported in our previous story, a school teacher recounted that many people, even school children, knew that this has been the site of a heron colony for many years. We wonder who told Brose otherwise? Interestingly, Brose is heavily quoted in the PQB News story but, according to the documents obtained through an FOI request, Colby Brose, a regional director for Environment and Climate Change Canada, is not even mentioned in the evidence accompanying the federal Compliance Order. Why does Brose now suddenly appear as the primary spokesperson in the PQB News story, and seemingly in support of, even applauding, the Town’s actions?

Bob Weir’s requiring something to be sent in writing “telling them they needed to stop construction.”

Really? TerraWest biologist Derek Nickel’s report on January 31 wasn’t clear enough? Project manager Brad Remillard’s e-mail to Weir on February 24 wasn’t explicit enough? Weir didn’t understand the multiple e-mails sent to him by BC government biologist Jenna Cragg? We regret having to resort to sarcasm, but such a misleading statement by a senior Town employee should not be accepted at face value, much less promoted through the media. PQB News states that their story is based on a “compliance order presented to the NEWS.” Presented by whom? Was PQB News given a different version of the federal Compliance Order?

Bob Weir’s attempt to defend breaking the law because it was just for “a couple of hours a day” and then presenting this as “common sense”, so that his costs could be covered by a grant.

Real common sense suggests that the Town should have either got their act together four months sooner and completed construction in fall 2019, which would have been legal, or else negotiate with the grant agency a fall 2020 construction period so as to comply with federal law (most grant agencies like to fund things that are done legally), or else simply forgo access to the grant. In actuality, Weir knowingly, willfully and repeatedly disturbed the heron colony, in violation of federal law. Period. Otherwise, the Compliance Order would not have been necessary.

And the big whopper – Mayor Wiese claiming that “no one was breaking the law”.

Is the mayor lying, or simply ignorant of the facts and/or ignorant of the law? Most citizens know that ignorance of the law is no excuse under the law. We realize that Mayor Wiese has little experience in governance at any level, but to pretend no one was breaking the law in this matter is simply spin or, worse, an attempt to cover up the fact that the Town broke the law, harmed protected wildlife, and ignored multiple directives to stop — and that higher levels of government finally had to enact the Order to compel Mayor Wiese and Town engineer Weir to stop breaking federal law.

Photo: Deborah Freeman – Island Deborah