CERCA campaign to drive away jobs

CERCA recently launched a campaign to drive more than 50 jobs away from the former Westcan Terminal and out of the Cowichan Bay area.

Mr. Goetz Schuerholz, spokesperson for CERCA, recently launched a campaign to drive more than 50 jobs away from the former Westcan Terminal and out of the Cowichan Bay area. This campaign is based on inaccurate information.

In a recent letter to the editor (“say no to re-zoning”, March 3) Mr. Schuerholz incorrectly suggests we are seeking updated CVRD zoning to permit “heavy industry” in the estuary.

This is not true. We are actually seeking removal of petroleum terminal and storage facilities as a permitted use, and the conversion of water areas on the south side of the terminal currently zoned for log storage (W-7) to conservation purposes only (W-1).

Residents will recall that in 2015 we worked with the community to “breach” the terminal causeway (and construction of a new bridge) in the name of fisheries and environmental enhancement. We have also worked with CERCA on a trail that includes a new pedestrian bridge and interpretive signage. Along with Pacific Industrial Marine, which operates on the terminal, we have contributed in excess of $55,000 to date including materials and labour to these community efforts.

As for the CVRD’s Marine Industrial Zone for the terminal area, we believe it should be clarified to clearly include assembly (manufacturing) of metal components brought from elsewhere by PIM, whose employees transform them into things like ramps for docks, supports for BC Ferries and foot bridges for pedestrians and bridges for working vehicles.

This value-added work has been ongoing for years without controversy while providing family-supporting wages to 50 local residents.‎ By being on the terminal, the assembled works can be directly transferred to barges and shipped to their ultimate destination without large trucks making our local roads busier.

This assembly work does not preclude the terminal from shipping processed lumber products and supporting the 100-plus people working at the local sawmill. While the sawmill hasn’t made as much use of the terminal in recent years, variations in international markets could change that.

The dominant legal instrument which governs activities in Cowichan Bay is the Cowichan Estuary Environmental Management Plan, enacted by the B.C. government with an Order-in-Council in 1986. It isn’t designed to drive jobs and industry out of Cowichan Bay. Rather, its goal is to provide for enhanced environmental protection while also providing certainty that economic activity can continue to support jobs and the community.

The plan specifically designates the terminal for industrial and commercial use and even contemplates the possible expansion of port facilities. ‎The plan (on page 7) goes on to say that “areas designated Industrial/Commercial should be recognized as being dedicated primarily to such use” and “allow reasonable fulfillment” of its potential.

To be clear, we are not proposing to expand the port facilities, but the terminal represents an asset to the community that may see greater use in the future. If Mr. Schuerholz had his way, the terminal’s potential to support our economy and reach markets without crowding local roads would be lost.

We believe a sustainable community is one which includes both a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

Robbie James

Terminal Manager, Cowichan Bay

Western Stevedoring