Re: the big maple
At this time of crisis and uncertainty on the planet from the effects of climate change, wars including acts of terror, gun violence and high housing costs, to name a few challenges, we cannot allow our local politicians to continue with an outdated mindset.
Progress has a new face and it is not gentrification that cost a lot of money! I am speaking of the new plans for University Village, the parking lot at the library (currently in process) and the proposed plans for a costly traffic circle and upgrade for James Street that will take place next year. The upgrades are being done in the name of safety. We are talking almost $2 million. As someone who lives in this neighbourhood, my husband and I cross James Street at least five times a week and see traffic out of our window many times a day. Where are the statistics that justify this claim?
So in the name of safety, $2 million is being spent by North Cowichan and the Island Savings commission. In addition, a much beloved tree, the huge maple in front of the library, is going to be cut down. Again, safety has been the word used to justify plans made by men and women with their own agendas.
There was no consultation until the word got out and people flocked to the tree to protect it (2,000 signed the petition). Then there was consultation to appease us and people listened at the Island Savings centre and nodded and said warm words, taking notes, and then proceeded to make decisions, without due respect to community members. People, who put a lot of time and effort into suggesting alternative plans, worked together with the community specialists to get other opinions and the tree was said to be very much alive. There would be upkeep but nothing like that suggested by the commission members.
So the new face looks like this (and it was presented at the meeting by a community leader): You work together with your community, with us, the people you represent, to create plans and you realize you are on the same side. We all work to make things happen and then we sustain them. Was I consulted about gentrification and upmarket prices coming to my neighbourhood? No.
If the commission members at the meeting July 26 pick up the olive branch that was generously presented to cut off tree branches that create fear in the council members, and then make a garden around the rest of the tree, there may be a chance to begin a new way forward together with trust and confidence.
What if we developed more of a reputation in the Cowichan Valley for peace through low-cost kindness, community involvement and concern for the planet? Fear is very costly, to our health, to our wallets and to our planet, learn from the trees.