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“Lucky if we don’t go bankrupt” and other liability concerns

“Lucky if we don’t go bankrupt” and other liability concerns
I’ve been following the blog as I’m a concerned citizen of Comox Valley. I do not think the stewardship or future of over 260 hectares of Baynes Sound belongs in the hands of 4 or 5 applicants. This is a haven for wildlife and is relied upon for food, shelter and nesting. The herring of Baynes Sound are an essential and vital part of the greater food web. Baynes Sound is a key rearing and spawning areas for Coho and several other species of salmon. Baynes Sound supports the existence of over 170 species of birds, some migratory, some wintering over and others are residents. The Pacific Great Blue Heron, a year round resident, is listed as a species at risk. The stewardship of Baynes Sound belongs to the people of the Comox Valley. It’s not for private use.
Here are two concerns:

In a July 28 comment re: Cumberlander article, Dan Bowen writes that “We will be lucky if we don’t go bankrupt in this process.” I think that’s a very interesting admission of financial vulnerability. Is bankruptcy the most likely long-term scenario? What’s the contingency plan for Baynes Sound if the entity financing this project goes bankrupt or pulls out? As we’ve seen in other operations around the province, when a company shuts down, the community can be left footing the cleanup bill to restore the habitat. So, Dan Bowen raises a very significant point. What happens if the sea cucumber operation is NOT economically viable? If it’s the environmental considerations that are so costly, then how do we know that the model will remain ecologically sound over time? For example, what happens if it turns out that comprehensive research, monitoring and management plans render the project economically non-viable? We cannot sacrifice our stewardship responsibilities for an unproven, “lucky if we don’t go bankrupt” business model. What insurance would cover this project if it has such liabilities?

Especially considering the following…
Bon Thorburn, Project Engineer, was subject to an inquiry and served with a consent order from APEGBC (Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC) in 2009/2010, in which he admitted to unprofessional conduct, received reprimand, and was penalized with the requirement that an independent professional peer reviewer(s) check his work. After contacting APEGBC, they explained that this unprofessional conduct applied to sewerage systems only. Baynes Sound isn’t a sewer system, but it is a sensitive ecosystem and this project stretches over kilometres of coastline.

After searching Mr. Thorburn in the APEGBC Membership Directory, I was surprised to see that despite his unprofessional conduct in the field of sewerage systems, “water/sanitary” is listed as his primary field of expertise. The list of engineering oversights for Mr. Thorburn’s unprofessional sewerage system is very long (11 counts), including the statement that:

“if operated at full design flow and/or residential occupancy would result in the surfacing of effluent on and around the perimeter of the in-ground container…” (p.1 — see attached JosephBonaventureThorburnP.Eng.BowserBC)

This does not give me confidence in the engineering team. Aquaculture development is not included under Mr. Thorburn’s secondary or tertiary fields of expertise ( Does his liability insurance cover aquaculture development? If not, is Mr. Thorburn subcontracting with qualified individuals? These seem like critical questions to be answered and brought to the attention of anyone reviewing the project application.

Kirby Russell


One response to ““Lucky if we don’t go bankrupt” and other liability concerns

  1. woodstover August 9, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Thank you very much for hunting down this information on Mr. Thorburn. His past indiscretions do not bolster much confidence in his ability to “manage a project” of this caliber, nor is he qualified. I wonder if Dan Bowen and Eric Gant knowingly hired this guy or is this information news to them also?

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