Future of Cowichan Bay estuary a no-brainer
When our family learned that the business that we had been operating on Waldy Road near Cowichan Bay since 1965 was deemed to be legal, non-conforming, we realized that it would be foolish to try and expand our operations at that location and that any future attempt to sell the business would necessitate moving the business to a suitably zoned site. Since we did have intentions of growing the business and could not rule out the possibility of a future sale, we took the proactive route and purchased land in an industrial park near Duncan in the mid 1980s.
We were good corporate citizens, had no quarrels with our neighbours and provided jobs and tax revenue for local government. In those ways, our situation was not unlike the current debate around industrial activities within the Cowichan estuary. Of course, we were not located on a vital sensitive eco-system, and we did not seek changes in local zoning to “legalize” our industrial activities.
Like any industrial business, we had equipment, some old and some new, powered by gas and diesel engines with hydraulic pumps and motors. We had leaks and spills and blown hoses at our facility, some small and some not so small, in spite of our best efforts to control and contain.
It was a different time then and I would like to believe that we as a society are getting smarter, but when we are discussing changes in zoning that would permanently enshrine ANY industrial activity in some of the most valuable and vulnerable ecosystems in the entire Cowichan region, I have to wonder.
We should be pursuing a path that gently encourages industry to move to other locations. Bamberton or Duke Point for example, where they can thrive and grow and continue to provide jobs to locals, some of whom would likely have less of a commute than what they currently endure.
Does anyone remember the CVRD’s “12 Big Ideas” for a sustainable Cowichan? Bravely embraced by the regional district back in 2015, at least five of the 12 big ideas point in the direction of gradually clearing the estuary of all industrial activity if and when opportunity presents itself.
Let’s not forget that the decisions we make today will have long term impacts that can either move us towards a sustainable future, or guarantee that our amazing Cowichan Watershed will continue to die the death of a thousand cuts that has been steadily degrading it for more than 60 years.
The legacy of heavy industry is usually tragic, ugly and expensive, while the legacy of healthy, functional ecosystems is among the most beautiful and valuable legacies we can leave for our children and grandchildren.