Drought, food, elections and death in 2014

As we look back upon 2014 in Cowichan, there was plenty to talk about on the editorial page last year. From Cowichan’s water crisis, where prolonged drought threatened to run our rivers dry – we have to take responsibility and control and do better – to the teachers’ strike that ran, low-key, through the summer and exploded into the wider public awareness when it caused a delay in the traditional start of the school year in September – we must talk about class composition, there’s no way around the truth that it is affecting everyone – the Valley has faced tough challenges.

Tammy Walker, in need of a double lung transplant, stunned us with the awareness that there’s a gaping chasm in our supposedly universal health care system that’s actually denying life-saving surgery to people who don’t have enough money. We urged people to get out and vote in November’s municipal elections. Sadly, voting statistics show that far too few took up the torch, in spite of a huge 87 candidates for public office.

Elections were also a sad time for the Cowichan Sportsplex, which was left facing a huge financial shortfall after referenda in nine electoral areas proved that shortsightedness on economic development and regional cooperation for the greater good still abounds.

This is one that we think will be returning to bite us over and over again in the future, especially as we look towards hosting the 2018 B.C. Summer Games. Drought and unpopular changes to the regulations governing the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve sounded the alarm on food security.

A water crisis in California, where far too much of our food comes from, had experts predicting big price increases at the grocery store for fruits and vegetables. They pointed out how B.C.’s own growing of crops, including such favourites as strawberries and broccoli, has eroded significantly over the years leaving us precariously dependent.

The B.C. government’s opening up the possibility that more land in the ALR could be used for industrial or urban development was just another fork in the potato.

Then there were the national and international issues that came to the fore this year. Our indifference to a recordsetting, fatal ebola outbreak in Africa until a handful of westerners started to get sick showed us a few things about ourselves we may not have wanted to see. In Canada, the debate on dying with dignity was reopened, as the pleas of a number of people who chose to take their own lives rather than suffer a painful and prolonged end were broadcast. The law preventing assisting someone in such a situation is one we hope changes soon. New hope in a new year.