Take a stand against Motorsport expansion on environmental grounds

it is a battle between the citizens of North Cowichan and VIMC

Take a stand against Motorsport expansion on environmental grounds

Re: “Legal Case: VIMC says North Cowichan backed out of “assurances” zoning was not a problem”, (Citizen, Nov. 8)

I am so upset by the actions of those who purportedly represent the Cowichan Valley citizens and bend to the will of a few blind bullies with a few bucks. Have they forgotten the work that has gone on before them? Do they truly believe that they can direct the community by silencing adversaries and supporting their ignorant agenda by demeaning opposing voices?

At a council meeting on July 17, 2019, “North Cowichan’s council (has) officially acknowledged the municipality is facing a climate emergency”, Robert Barron, Cowichan Valley Citizen. North Cowichan should have, by now, a climate action strategy, in addition to the countless initiatives to curb waste, environmental degradation, improve lives and the health and welfare of its citizens.

The current mayor, Al Siebring, was quoted as stating that he doesn’t “want to leave the impression that I want to walk away from some notion of environmental responsibility. Of course we need to do what we can to be good environmental stewards.” He went on to state that, “We live in a region that is one of the most proactive in B.C. on environmental issues,” and yet he and only one other councillor voted against the declaration.

Cowichan has had an “Airshed Strategy” since 2015. In this strategic report, the question begs: “Why are we concerned about air quality? There is solid scientific evidence at a national level of a strong link between air pollution levels and impacts on human health. Locally, data from Island Health indicates that in the Cowichan Local Health Area, admissions rates for children with respiratory diseases averaged 70% higher than provincial rates for the period 1998 to 2012. In 2012 the proportion of persons aged 5-54 diagnosed with asthma was 14% higher and the prevalence of chronic respiratory illness for all persons aged 45 and over was 50% higher in Cowichan Valley Regional District than the province. In our region, air emissions originate from a wide range of sources including mobile vehicle emissions, stationary industrial point sources, residential or commercial area sources and natural sources. There is also a wide range of types of contaminants being emitted. For common air contaminants such as particulate matter (PM) and ground-level ozone, health impacts have been found even at low concentrations, indicating that there may be no safe level. The elderly, the young, those with lowered immunity, and/or existing heart and lung ailments are especially vulnerable. Air pollution also affects the integrity of natural ecosystems and agricultural crops, increases greenhouse gas emissions and degrades the visibility of scenic vistas. Together with the health costs, these impacts and their consequences for tourism and other industries have implications for economic activity throughout the region.”

The contributing partners in the report were: Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Tribes, Ministry of Environment, Island Health, Our Cowichan Communities Health Network, School District 79, Catalyst Paper, University of Victoria, City of Duncan, Town of Ladysmith, Town of Lake Cowichan, Municipality of North Cowichan and Cowichan Fresh Air Team.

It is without question that the contributors have a vested interest in British Columbians’ and Cowichan Valley residents’ health and welfare in addition to the overall economy and economic drivers within our community. To ignore this report is tantamount to turning a blind eye to our citizens’ health and welfare. This is being perpetrated by those who choose to ignore the facts, those like our current North Cowichan mayor and the elitist invading developers who would prefer to party it up while our environment burns around them. It is without a doubt that Mayor Al Siebring and his cronies along with these elitists have little or no interest in the health and welfare of our community and its citizens.

Currently the North Cowichan’s Official Community Plan Bylaw, Bylaw 3450, first adopted July 20, 2011, last amended June 6, 2018 clearly states that the Official Community Plan is structured around five core guiding principles: sustainability, economic opportunity, smart growth, healthy and safe community and community engagement. One principle of note is healthy and safe community, principle 1.3.4.: “A healthy and safe community is one where access to community services, housing, parks and open space, clean air and water, and other such benefits promotes positive interaction and healthy outcomes among all residents.”

As for Dave Devana having granted a building permit to Vancouver Island Motor Circuit, there should be a judicial enquiry. Any fool would be able to reason that racing cars, burning endless amounts of CO2 emitting fossil fuels just so that certain elite individuals can fine tune a racing engine contributes nothing to be of benefit that promotes positive interactions and healthy outcomes for any resident, let alone all residents.

This is no longer a battle between VIMC and the Municipality of North Cowichan; it is a battle between the citizens of North Cowichan and VIMC including the mayor, Al Siebring and all those who side with him to undermine the very fabric of our survival.

Take a stand now or lie down and let life slip from you painfully, lest we all suffer the ravages of killing our planet.

Gilles Villeneuve

Cowichan

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