One of the most scenic places on the BC coast, this point has been on the front page of the national papers – for reasons other than it’s beauty.
Orlebar Point is at the end of Berry Point Road – now. Apparently the Berry Point road allowance used to run directly to the point – that is until a certain high-powered politician took a liking to the location and somehow managed to purchase it from the province and amalgamate it with another lot - when nobody from Gabriola was looking. What was intended as a fine beach access, became part of a residential waterfront lot where former BC Cabinet Minister Dave Stupich built himself a home. It was beautifully done, and even included a desalinization plant. Many local tradesmen worked there off and on for months and when the news broke a few years later that Stupich had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar (misappropriating funds from a charity bingo) the island was buzzing with stories about the place. The media decended on the island and choppers brought in RCMP investigators. It was a big scandal, and Gabriola Island made headlines, as Stupich – a former Provincial Cabinet Minister AND federal Member of Parliament faced some damning charges.
Mr. Stupich was eventually convicted for his actions, and sentenced to serve some time under ‘house arrest’. The court, however, recognizing that confining the disgraced politician to a luxury home on arguably one of the nicest locations on the coast, was hardly a tough sentence. The court required that the time be served at Stupich’s daughter’s house in Nanaimo. Now, to me…that makes Nanaimo a penal colony for Gabriola Island, and I take great delight in telling that particular part of the Stupich saga to folks from the Harbour City (much to their chagrin). Most Gabrioloids love it – unless perhaps they voted for the man.
It is worth noting that the fellow who originally blew the whistle on Stupich rented a modest place on Gabriola for a while as the case was coming to a close. Jacques Carpentier had worked for one of the charities involved and discovered the discrepancies in the books. Jacques kept good records and had collected lots of paperwork from the Nanaimo Commenwealth Holding Society (NCHS)- which was run by Stupich – a powerful man in the NDP at the time. When he started asking questions, his life was threatened and he soon went public. The RCMP then began a forensic investigation. When the case ended with a conviction, a large box of paperwork was returned to him by the RCMP, representing the evidence he had presented. He left Gabriola shortly thereafter.
The Stupich home has changed hands now, and – questionable ethics aside - Orlebar Point remains a beautiful place to visit, and the entire south coast is spread out before you. The tourists love to take pictures there – usually with their backs to Orlebar.