Say “NO” to Re-zoning Cowichan Estuary for Industry

Not surprising to hear that re-zoning would be in the best interest of the community.

Listening to presentations by industrial corporations, be it about proposed LNG terminals, contaminated soil issues, or allowing manufacturing industry in a hypersensitive estuary, it is the same story. Not much different at the last Cowichan Stewardship Round Table where Western Stevedoring/Tidal Harmony Holdings defended their re-zoning application to the CVRD favouring heavy industry.

Not surprising to hear that re-zoning would be in the best interest of the community.

If the proposed re-zoning of the Crown leases related to the Westcan Terminal were approved it could open the door for future industrial development in an estuary flagged by its Environmental Management Plan (CEEMP) and the corresponding OCP as prime tourist destination for its wildlife values and natural beauty. The first clearly stipulates that the ultimate goal is to re-zone all leases for conservation management.

Manufacturing operations on the Westcan Terminal by “Pacific Industrial Marine” have been going on for years in non-compliance with CVRD bylaws, which never have been enforced.

Tidal Harmony Holdings, the lessee of the six Crown leases applied for re-zoning to legalize these activities.

The change of bylaws in favour of industry (termed by Western Stevedoring: “modernizing”) would throw us back into the early ’70s when we knew much less about the ecological importance of estuaries.

Worth mentioning: the CEEMP (1987) came into effect because of grave concerns about the dramatic degradation of the estuary causing fish stocks and bird populations to decline, the closure of shellfish harvesting, and the alarming disappearance of eelgrass, all caused by a booming logging industry in the estuary, which for ages had provided livelihood to First Nations.

Now, almost 40 years later in the days of alarming climate change and exponentially growing biodiversity loss to step back and create a monster that will be even more difficult to control cannot be tolerated.

Meanwhile the relevant forest companies have all ceased to exist, no lumber has been stored or shipped for years, the dock is falling apart and contracts with longshoreman have long been cancelled.

All assumed, by Tidal Harmony Holdings (1989) for a 50-year period at $1 per lease/year. No surprise that they want to hold on to land as cheap as this, although alternative sites in properly designated areas within the CVRD are available. Moving the operations would stimulate economic growth, create jobs, industry could easily adhere to all rules and regulations, being good corporate citizens, concerned about the estuary, and in tune with nature and the environment.

The vision of both official plans for the Cowichan Estuary is clearly in favour of a management for conservation in tune with a sustainable economic development focused on tourism so essential for the life of the Cowichan Bay Village.

Therefore say “NO” to the proposed re-zoning!

Goetz Schuerholz

CERCA