Having lived in Dunster for the better part of 32 years I feel for the first time in a long while a letter to the editor coming on. Being one of the “bastards” who sold out to the land grabbing Americans entitles me to do so. By the way, I no longer have any affiliation with Fraser River.

Some facts about land value in general: our property was granted in the mid 50’s for roughly $500 and after 27 years was sold to us in an abandoned run down state for 300 times that amount. By coincidence 27 years later we sold it on. And believe me we did not get $45 million which would have been the same ratio, although we put a lot of effort and money into our venture there.

But we are not complaining and instead would like to take this opportunity to thank Mark and Bobby for being the first people to notice and pay for the real value of the property we called home for such a long time. Also for letting us stay and work on our old haunts.

To my knowledge Fraser River properties have no farm status although they should have. Therefore they pay the highest tax rate possible. Some people should be happy. For now there is more money for all the grants and tax relief which enables them a way of life they feel entitled to. Everybody else of course has to subsidize this.

And why should a landowner organize tours on their properties only to satisfy the curiosities of others?

Their plans are nobody’s business. I would strongly advise them not to go to these meetings, remembering a few years back when some unsuspecting family wanted to open 3 tourist cabins on Read Road. These poor schmucks did not know what hit them. No argument was too stupid to bring forth. “Oh, there is too much traffic. Uh, no one can walk the dogs any more or ride the ponies. The world is coming to an end.”

I know, why don’t we bring back the Spanish Inquisition for people who are about to settle or buy land in this valley?

Fraser River does nothing illegal. They do not have to justify themselves to anyone.

If they want to plaster their fences with No Hunting and other signs, what’s the problem? We did the same after some nitwits poached on our land repeatedly and fired shots towards the house to kill a deer.

Talking to a lot of residents lately about this matter I am glad and encouraged that not many seem to share the hysteric notions implied in the articles.

Do not get me wrong. Foreign landownership and absentee landowners can (but not necessarily has to) be a troublesome problem. I share some of the concerns to a certain extent. But we do not further our arguments by underpinning them with unfair innuendo and obvious falsehoods.

On a more personal note:

Pete: you are actually the only person who in my opinion is honest in this farce. We’ve known you since the mid 80’s. You were a dreamer and idealist then and an environmentalist when it was not yet fashionable. You haven’t changed. Only one thing – your suggestion that only a certified farmer should be allowed to actually buy farmland, great idea. This way the valley will be depopulated over night.

Mr. Haus: I am at a loss. You move yourself and your family to Dunster and now complain about high property prices after the fact? You live in a bus and are waiting exactly for what? Hey that gives me a great idea. I’d really like to own a house in Vancouver, preferably downtown. Maybe I could park my old van on Robson Street and curse all the Asian property-owners who drive prices sky high. Well at least I do not have to worry about my outdoors shower. There will still be water coming out of mine long after yours will run ice cubes from October on.

Lelani: What were you thinking? Why did you sell to “these people” if you really feel “so intimately attached” to the property? The money was good enough but the new owners aren’t? And contrary to your statements in the paper, the shed you tried to move after you sold, it was not torn down. Instead it was moved to another property and fixed up. As far as the “old schoolhouse” – It was an empty shell, open to the elements and falling apart. I know because I helped taking it down. I removed the tin roof for reuse (broke through the rotten substructure 3 times), and I salvaged the windows.

Maybe you should ask the remaining managers of the store if they would rather have 4 cents per litre of a lot of gasoline sales or 4 cents of nothing.

The Dunster store is not the only business Fraser River supports. They buy the majority of what is needed (which is a lot) locally and they employed four to six people at least while we were working there.

Chuck: You should know better than that! You must be aware that none of the properties in question are abandoned. As a matter of fact: Barbara and I worked for Fraser River for four summers on all their properties. All of them are farmed or at least maintained to a higher standard than their former owners were able or willing to. And believe me they cleaned up a lot of rubbish.

Mr Rohner: Great fiction, sadly one of the most biased stories I had the dubious privilege to read. You call yourself investigative contributor. My foot. A real investigative journalist would have gotten to the bottom of this story. A real investigative journalist would have checked the statements and verified the stories he was told. A real investigative journalist would have talked to the opposing side. And even if no statement or comments was forthcoming (I bet with a different approach you would have gotten an interview) would have found a way. By talking to people like us who worked for Fraser River. Or others who sold them property. Why not ask the Hardware Store owners? A real investigative journalist would have gone to some of the properties in question. Most of them are visible from the roads. That would have put the “being abandoned theory” right to bed. A real investigative journalist would have captioned the photo of the so called abandoned field in the articles with an address, instead of implying it was one of Fraser River’s.

But I assume that was never your intention. Pushing somebody’s agenda, maybe? So, what did you actually investigate before you fired off that first article?

Oh right, the sob stories about “fish odours, a magic school bus, calloused, scarred hands and knobby joints, short tousled hair and soiled hands of German immigrants.”

Are you serious? Thanks for that, we all nearly p….. our pants.

I lived long enough in this valley to have witnessed several of these witchhunts. In the 1980’s it was “The Germans” who built Terracana. Some decade later “The Dutch” bought all this property. Maybe they wanted to roll the valley up and ship it to Holland. Enter “The Amercan Landgrabbers.” Pretty soon you will run out of nationalities. If you do may I suggest “The Martians.” You can blame just about anything on the Martians.

Paul Brenneisen

Editor’s note: Thomas Rohner, a freelance investigative journalist has accepted a fulltime job in Iqaluit. He did contact representatives of Fraser River Landholdings Ltd. before publishing his first story on Dunster land issues in July, but the company would only respond to his questions via email through a representative. Paul Brenneisen says he no longer owns any property in Dunster.