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Shark fins, oil and pot: oh my

What does this shark’s fin have to do with oil and marijuana? They’re all issues Central Saanich Council has had to take a stance on this year. So far, two down. -
What does this shark’s fin have to do with oil and marijuana? They’re all issues Central Saanich Council has had to take a stance on this year. So far, two down.
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The Week News Briefs: April 5-11

Central Saanich City Council is garnering a bit of a name for itself — as the local naysayer of all things progressive. However, a recent decision by Victoria City Council will give it one more opportunity to turn it around.

Early last month, in a 3-4 vote, Central Saanich Council killed a motion to join with the City of Victoria in urging the prohibition of the importation of shark fins. Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson was criticized for his stance by stating that, since he had not heard a resident advocate for taking action, he therefore would not vote in favour. Only weeks later, Central Saanich defeated another motion to join with Victoria and surrounding municipalities in a united stand against Enbridge oil tankers on B.C.’s coastline — this time in a 2-5 vote with no counterargument, that again saw Mayor Bryson vote in opposition. Now, after the City of Victoria passed a motion to support a regulatory approach to cannabis control and is sending out letters requesting surrounding municipalities to join in support, it remains to be seen how Central Saanich will respond — but it might not be hard to guess.

“It’s certainly fair for people to take different stands on heated issues, but what I would like to see is at least people debating on these issues," says Central Saanich councillor Zeb King. “Our reputation should be important to council members. We’re elected to show leadership and that is what I think council failed to do.”

King, who pushed forward the symbolic motion to ban shark fins in the region, as well as the motion against Enbridge, says that “it’s important to not wait for a huge public outcry before showing leadership: you lead by making change.” King says he will look forward to the letter from Victoria regarding cannabis regulation, and hopes Central Saanich will take the opportunity to set new standards and not be tagged as the most regressive council in the Capital Regional District.

“I’m not aware of any other municipality that has rejected a motion like [banning shark fins]. Who knew there might be a shark fin harvesting constituency in Central Saanich?” King says, adding that he feels as devastated about the failed motion against Enbridge. “We have shorelines in Central Saanich, and there are people here who rely on a healthy industry. This is our issue, too.”

Despite repeat attempts, Mayor Bryson could not be reached for comment by press time.

UVic awarded dunce cap

Interesting news this week as B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham announced her take on UVic’s little mishap with all that employee information going missing — now the university is bending over to get the strap.

“What is very unfortunate is that this privacy breach was both foreseeable and preventable,” says Denham in a statement to media. “Instead of a simple theft of a mobile device, the incident resulted in enormous costs and stress for those affected and for the university.”

Denham launched her investigation when the USB flash drive containing the names, SIN numbers and banking information of nearly 12,000 current and former university employees was stolen in January. The device has still not been recovered.

Instead of sentencing the school to write “I will remember to encrypt my devices” 1,000 times on the chalkboard, Denham makes 10 recommendations for the university to abide to, including a formal review of their privacy policies every three years, a re-assessment of the physical security of the Financial Services area, and improved password and encryption maintenance.

“We appreciate the commissioner’s thorough and thoughtful report and recognize that it identifies areas in which the university can improve the protection of personal information,” says UVic President David Turpin. “We will be implementing the commissioner’s recommendations and, in fact, in a number of areas we are already taking significant steps.”

Not all meters made equally

Interesting updates for those still following BC Hydro’s Smart Meter debacle: turns out our province scored the most expensive “smart” devices around.

The Coalition to Stop Smart Meters has published a report that details the costs of new meters between provinces and the U.S. Turns out, B.C.’s meters are 2.5 times more than the rest of North America’s.

In the U.S., the cheapest meter clocks in at $123, with the national average cost at $221. Meanwhile, the cheapest Canadian meter can be found in Ontario at $233 per meter, with the average closer to $270 per meter. B.C.’s meters (drum roll please) tick in at a hefty $555 — each.

“B.C.’s smart meter program ... is costing us more than twice as much as many other programs,” says Sharon Noble, director of the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters. “The public has the right to know why our money is being wasted.” M

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