Letter: Re: Community Hall petition stalls

Tuesday, October 3 2017

RDN Director Howard Houle is thwarting the democratic process, seemingly for personal reasons. The Board of the Community Hall is only asking that a referendum vote be included on next year’s ballots. It is at that time that the community will receive full information for the tax funding request, debate the issues, and then democratically decide. However, Mr. Houle has convinced his fellow RDN director colleagues to deny us this democratic opportunity, acting as a gatekeeper, demanding a detailed business plan immediately. Were other organizations, such as GERTIE, asked to provide a detailed business plan before their referendum? He talks about needing to know in order to decide if the RDN can “fund” it. Is this not backwards? The petition signers are only asking for a referendum which, if passed, tells the RDN “we say to fund it.”

According to your article, Mr. Houle has already personally decided tax funding is not needed, and has again influenced the RDN Board. His personal animosity to the Hall Board in general and Mr. Strachan in particular is very clear and seemingly the main reasons for his negativity. He also influenced the RDN Board by discrediting the petition with hearsay about aggression, bullying and intimidation, but offering no proof.

Mr. Houle has not developed a politician’s thick skin, taking things very personally, and seems to consider his director’s position as a personal fiefdom. His comments which were publicly directed toward Mr. Strachan at the RDN meeting were not completely reported by the Sounder. Check the audio transcript. Yes, the attempt to reach him at his home was ill advised, but may have been avoided if Mr. Houle were to have responded to the acceptable lines of communication, which he continually refused to do. You quote him as saying all meetings should be held at RDN offices in Nanaimo where staff can be present. This does not serve Gabriolans well. Why cannot paid RDN staff occasionally meet here? Why can’t our elected representative meet with folks without staff present?

Mr. Houle’s record is one of negativity and unsupportiveness. In 2015 he was in favour of the Hall retaining the emergency reception status. The Sounder report says the Gabriola Emergency Social Services approached the church, and the church was surprised. 

I don’t see that this organization would have approached the church without prompting from Mr. Houle. 

What happened to change his mind? I feel it’s again personal, for some reason he feels personally slighted by the Hall Board. He voted for the church, accepting that this small space would be adequate as the RDN seemingly knows for certain that emergency visits would be short with small groups and then we would move on to Nanaimo. How can they be certain this would be possible?

Mr. Houle also scuttled the water taxi use of the emergency dock, again going against community wishes. Mr. Houle has been in office for too long and next October it’s time he be replaced.

~ Dennis Keis