More than one side to Upper Clearwater dispute

When the voting took place for the grant-in-aid, 49 per cent of the valley did not support the tax

Editor, The Times:

I wish to respond to Andrew Nelson’s letter to the editor (“Let’s set the record straight for Upper Clearwater,” March 3 issue).

Yes, the residents of the Upper Clearwater have been subjected to misinformation and emotive untruths.

It actually started in 2003, not 2004 as was stated in the letter to the editor. A letter was sent to Bert Walker, then the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Area A representative, stating that the Upper Clearwater Farmers’ Institute represented all of the landowners in the Upper Clearwater valley.

This was signed by the president of the UCFI (not Andrew Nelson at the time). This statement was inaccurate, as they did not only not represent the landowners but I very much doubt if anyone was a legitimate signed-up member of the UCFI at that time.

When the voting took place for the grant-in-aid, 49 per cent of the valley did not support the tax.

Not only was the voting process conducted unfairly (arbitrarily extending the deadline, plus giving duplicate copies of unsigned ballots to the UCFI, which provided a clear opportunity for people to be bullied into signing them) but the UCFI hall (which does not pay land taxes) was allowed a vote.

Mr. Nelson states that disgruntled neighbours have “left” the UCFI. This is not true. As he is well aware, we were told that we were never members in the first place, thus making it impossible to “leave.”

The reason I did not join is that, quite frankly, I do not like the UCFI version of democracy.

The farmers institute’s voting procedures leave much to be desired. The example in the letter to the editor of the TNRD board voting by show of hands to justify the UCFI doing the same is quite misleading.

I am confident that every one of the TNRD directors was voted into office by a secret ballot vote, not by a show of hands.

Mr. Nelson is quite right, the old school in the Upper Clearwater is not a community hall. TRU has allowed us the use of the building for gatherings and educational functions.

I believe that we have a right to freedom of association. I also believe that we should not be forced to pay taxes to support a private organization. Perhaps you need to raise your membership dues? Or do fundraisers?

Kelly Ferguson

Upper Clearwater resident and taxpayer