Shame on the CVRD board for voting for Cowichan Bay rezoning

Shame on the CVRD board for voting for Cowichan Bay rezoning

Municipal directors were not allowed to vote while the decision was put to area directors only.

Shame on the CVRD board for voting for Cowichan Bay rezoning

Dear CVRD board chairman and directors:

I am disgusted and ashamed at what passed for due process during today’s Oct. 23 board meeting where directors basically rubber stamped third reading and adoption of zoning amendment bylaw 4264.

Despite many folks who wanted to speak to this landmark motion, Chairman Ian Morrison simply told everyone no further public input would be allowed before the controversial vote that will now allow further marine manufacturing in our eco-sensitive bay.

The seaside site owned by Tidal Harmony Holdings and Western Stevedoring shifted today to Transportation-Industrial zoning from Water-Industrial use.

The CVRD rightly requested no divisive tactics, such as donning bright safety vests by bay workers and others favouring the rezoning to keep operations running at Pacific Industrial & Marine and elsewhere.

The CVRD also asked folks opposed to the amendment not to brandish signs during the packed meeting.

Still, the brusk, close-minded manner in which our board — with the exception of Glenora (Area E) Director Alison Nicholson, and Mill Bay/Malahat (Area A) Director Blaise Salmon — mishandled this controversial issue still divides our community after today’s shameful affront to democracy.

Municipal directors were not allowed to vote while the decision was put to area directors only.

Sadly, the amendment affects the north half of the bay sitting in the North Cowichan municipality. Coun. Rob Douglas wisely requested the CVRD do an environmental impact assessment concerning the sensitive estuary before today’s vote.

His timely request was sadly ignored by our board that is seemingly bent on moving ahead with economy over ecology in a threatened bay ecosystem where shellfish is expected to be harvested next year.

Indeed, our board could have had both economy and ecology in our bay: jobs, with caveats preventing noise, odour, light, and certainly air, water and land pollution.

But even given those conditions, there’s no clear picture about what continued marine manufacturing — and Western Forest Products’ nearby sawmill — will have on birds, wildlife, marine critters, eelgrass and the whole bay ecosystem.

Those impacts might have been revealed in Douglas’s requested environmental impact assessment.

In hindsight, those industries should never have been allowed in the bay circa-1950s.

Our board had a golden chance today to correct that eco-mistake, but foolishly failed to put ecology, tourism (in our globally acclaimed Cittaslow bay), and green jobs first.

I sure applaud Nicholson and Salmon for wisely voting against the bylaw amendment, while requesting more information about industrial impacts, and more, on our bay.

However, I can’t help but wonder what (Area D) bay director Lori Iannidinardo, in particular, was thinking when voting in favour of this information-poor amendment.

That vote came from a director who has done so much to bravely resurrect the bay’s ecology.

Shame on our board for a seemingly reckless, short-sighted decision that will impact Cowichan Bay and North Cowichan for generations.

Peter W. Rusland

North Cowichan