Province refusing to exercise due diligence with Cowichan Estuary

Such industry is not sustainable, nor the economic driver in the Cowichan Valley

Province refusing to exercise due diligence with Cowichan Estuary

Province refusing to exercise due diligence with Cowichan Estuary

Re: R. Barron article: “Environmental review of estuary not mandatory…” (Citizen, July 10)

Too bad that the provincial government refuses to exercise due diligence when it comes to the Cowichan Estuary. Permitting industrial metal manufacturing to settle in the heart of one of the most sensitive and most threatened ecosystems globally, nationally and locally without any background checks on ecological, socio-cultural and economic impacts of such industry on the estuary and its neighbours is outright irresponsible. And this also in spite of estuaries being flagged by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as Canada’s most vulnerable ecosystem of special protection needs and research showing that the majority of the people living in the Cowichan Valley want to see industry gone from the estuary!

This however should not keep our nine CVRD Electoral Area directors from reaching their own decision in the best interest of an endangered ecosystem and the majority of the Cowichan Valley constituents. The responsible reaction to the application by our elected officials would have been to quash the application in the first place. Instead a decision is still pending after three years of deliberation while the proponent continues to expand operations on the terminal in non-compliance with CVRD bylaws and the Estuary Environmental Management Plan without CVRD interference!

Contrary to the beliefs of the diehards amongst the EASC directors and their supporters, such industry is not sustainable, nor the economic driver in the Cowichan Valley; and it simply does not belong in an estuary. What may have been acceptable 50 years ago due to lack of better knowledge is definitely not acceptable today! And for EASC directors to rely on recommendations made by a totally dysfunctional Cowichan Estuary Environmental Management Committee (CEEMC) with no expertise in estuary/marine ecology, is equally unacceptable.

In his article R. Barron points out that the CEEMC “includes staff from a multitude of agencies and jurisdictions” and that this committee voted in support of the re-zoning following a meeting with proponents and opponents on April 10, 2018 with CVRD staff abstaining from the voting. The fact is that the only two representatives from the “multitude of agencies and jurisdictions” taking the final vote at the meeting were the committee chair and one Cowichan Tribes referral coordinator (assuming that CVRD and North Cowichan representatives abstained). There was nobody from DFO as a key stakeholder of the estuary and nobody from any other agency. Mr. Barron’s quote from the response to his inquiry he received from the Minister: “Project proponents are responsible for making their own determination as to whether or not their project falls within the threshold set out in the regulation”, says it all: put industry in charge of environmental management!

Goetz Schuerholz

Chair, CERCA