Esquimalt councillors demand CRD's Denise Blackwell step down over comments

Esquimalt council is demanding that Capital Regional District vice-chairwoman Denise Blackwell resign from all her positions with the CRD because of comments she made in a story published in the Times Colonist last week.

Blackwell, who is also a Langford councillor, told a reporter that she was disappointed by the Esquimalt advisory planning committee’s position that Esquimalt council should not change its land use rules so that a wastewater treatment plant can be built at McLoughlin Point.

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“I knew Esquimalt was going to try to put up roadblocks,” said Blackwell.

Blackwell also indicated that if the municipality does not rezone the land it would not get an estimated $950,000 for bicycle and walking path upgrades.

Esquimalt councillors unanimously passed a motion asking Mayor Barb Desjardins to send their request to the CRD board as soon as possible.

Several councillors said Blackwell’s remarks were bullying, disrespectful, threatening and insulting.

Councillor Tim Morrison, who introduced the motion to censure Blackwell, said her comments were dismissive, and disrespectful of good governance and public process.

The process to rezone McLoughlin Point is at great risk of being seriously tainted, said Morrison.

Meanwhile, Esquimalt council has voted to proceed to a public hearing on rezoning the land at McLoughlin Point to allow a Capital Regional District sewage facility. Council voted 4 to 2 in favour of the hearing, which will be held July 8 -10.

Coun. Lynda Hundleby voted in favour of holding a hearing. “I want to be really clear here that I support moving the process to a public hearing. I can’t say I support the proposed no-win plan or support the proposed bylaws, but I do fully support Esquimalt residents having an opportunity to publicly voice their opinions,” she said.

Coun. Dave Hodgins opposed the motion. “I am concerned about the process and the lack of community involvement .… As an elected official I’m embarrassed by the CRD’s approach and absence of responsible government.

“It’s just wrong. The wrong approach, the wrong plan and the wrong way to treat people.”

Moving to the public hearing does not commit Esquimalt council to anything and gives Esquimalt citizens a golden opportunity to have their full say, said Coun. Dave Schinbein.

Desjardins also supported the motion. Morrison voted against the hearing, saying he could not support the process unless Blackwell resigned or apologized.

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