Story by James Wood, MyComoxValleyNow.com

COURTENAY, B.C- The Dogwood Initiative won’t be taking sides in the municipal elections this year.

The group is a non-profit based in British Columbia, which advocates for support for environmental causes, and has done work in past Valley elections at various levels.

According to Dave Mills, a staff organizer of the group for northern Vancouver Island, that work consisted of registering voters and increasing turnout.

This included work in the 2014 municipal election, which has since drawn criticism from the Comox Valley Taxpayer’s Alliance, who have bought ads locally against the group, as well as a host of other topics.

Mills has now told the MyComoxValleyNow.com newsroom that there are no plans to register for similar work in the next municipal elections.

“To do that in a law abiding and legal fashion, you need to register with Elections BC,” said Mills.

“We are not registering with Elections BC for any work in the municipal elections, Dogwood is not involved in the municipal elections.”

Mills said that the decision would be effective across the province, and indicated that the group is focused on the upcoming referendum on proportional representation.

He also responded to the criticisms from the Taxpayer’s Alliance, which has only one member that has publicly stated his membership, a Courtenay man named Dick Clancy.

“Look, the electoral process in British Columbia is highly regulated,” said Mills.

“It seems to me that if this so-called alliance wants to get involved in the municipal elections, they should have the courage to step out in the open, and register.”

Dick Clancy, who said he was a spokesperson for the Alliance, defended his group when discussing Mills’ announcement of non-registering.

“We are not a faceless, anonymous group. We’ve had people demanding we release our membership list, well, we can not do that. There are privacy laws in this province.”

Clancy also believed the group was transparent.

“I’m well known in this community, and I’m available, I’m here,” said Clancy.
“There are a number of people who have joined who have openly declared that they are members of our group, and if they wish to do that, that’s fine, but I’m not going to go releasing a list of people without their knowledge and consent, that’s just not proper.”

As for whether or not the Alliance would register as a third party in the upcoming municipal election, Clancy said there were “a lot of things that come into play”.

“We will most certainly comply with all legislation, I say that without hesitation,” said Clancy.

“The decision that we have to make is that during the campaign period, we would only be allowed to spend a little over $1,000, and as you know with the current cost of advertising that doesn’t take you very far. We will be making that decision sometime in the next ten days.”

As for his thoughts on Dogwood not getting involved, Clancy said he didn’t know what they were doing to do.

“Frankly, I don’t care if they register or not, as long as, as we do, they comply with the legislation,” said Clancy.