The University of Victoria Environmental Law Clinic will be providing legal assistance to the Chemainus Residents Association in its bid to stop the Municipality of North Cowichan from selling and developing “Echo Heights.” Echo Heights is a municipally-owned 52 acre forest that local residents have long used as informal parkland. A treasured community asset, Echo Heights is traversed by trails that allow residents to enjoy its Douglas-fir forest, camus meadows, wetlands, ferns, owls, deer and red-tailed hawks.
“We hope to help the CRA in its efforts to establish Echo Heights as a park that can be enjoyed by the people of Chemainus forever,” stated Airi Schroff, the ELC law student and Ladysmith resident, who will be providing the CRA with assistance. “We will provide the CRA with assistance in making submissions to Council and, if necessary, to other tribunals. By doing so, we will try to give a voice to the flora and fauna of the Heights – and a voice to the many community members that don’t want Chemainus to be transformed into Surrey.”
Calvin Sandborn, barrister and solicitor, will be supervising Airi’s work. He commented, “The Clinic will assist the CRA in delivering its message to council – and the message is really a simple one. It’s the same message that Harold Bartholomew delivered to Vancouver City Council when he delivered the Vancouver City Plan in 1928:
‘A city becomes a remembered city, a beloved city, not by its ability to manufacture or to sell, but by its ability to create and hold bits of sheer beauty and loveliness’
Echo Heights is one of those bits of sheer beauty that Chemainus should not bulldoze and pave.”
Mark Kiemele of the CRA welcomed the decision of the ELC to assist. “This help from dedicated young law students is a real shot in the arm for the movement to save Echo Heights. It was inspiring to hike Echo Heights with a group of 20 law students and associates of the ELC last weekend. With this ELC decision, we are more confident than ever that the citizens of North Cowichan will step forward and stop North Cowichan Council from bulldozing Echo Heights.”
- Click here (link currently unavailable) to read Airi Schroff’s feature opinion piece published June 7, 2006, in the Cowichan Valley Citizen.
- With help from Airi Schroff, the Chemainus Residents Association scored a win with their FOI request to the District of North Cowichan to release documents pertaining to council’s decision to develop Echo Heights Forest. Here is a link to the documents council released June 9, 2006. (link currently unavailable)
In July 2006, the ELC asked the Inspector of Municipalities to conduct a Public Inquiry into the Municipality of North Cowichan’s handling of the disposition of Echo Heights.Click here to read the July 24, 2006, letter to the Inspector of Municipalities. (link currently unavailable) The Inspector declined to take the matter to Cabinet for an Inquiry but suggested further options, including court and the Ombudsman, which the CRA are considering.