A challenge to our leaders
Is it impossible to save the estuary and jobs too? In the three years that we have been fighting to protect the environment on the Cowichan Bay Estuary, there has been no evidence that both jobs and the environment could not be protected.
I joined CERCA four years ago as a director, and not because of any fiduciary interest. I could see, as do many that our local environment is in danger. This is easily seen if one examines the indisputable evidence. I don’t mean evidence as in the 90 per cent of world climatologists, no, I mean local evidence. Evidence as shown by loss of natural resource jobs, loss of natural habitat and overwhelming evidence, already occurring acidification of our local waters and of loss of fish habitat. My concern is for my grandchildren and the terrible legacy that we will leave them if we do not act.
I love them dearly and want, to the best of my ability, to leave them an environment that they may thrive and prosper in. I feel this as a matter of conscience. Vested interests have played a major role in this argument. In my view, economic savings have battled environmental interests. Jobs, jobs, jobs has been the rallying cry, from company owners to the working people on the estuary and local governance, but is this in fact a reality or is it a mythology perpetrated by employers?
I believe that this mythology is incorrect and self serving.
I question if that needs to be so. Jobs on the estuary can be moved elsewhere to a place within close regional limits, where an unusually sensitive environment, the Cowichan Bay estuary, is not threatened by deleterious activity. Have our leaders abandoned us all? Is not their role to lead, to negotiate a solution that protects us all?
During the past three years I have not heard one cogent argument as to why the jobs could not be protected and moved at the same time. It is obvious that they can, as evidenced by some other existing companies that do exactly the same thing but in less ecologically sensitive areas.
Jobs are important, more so these days because of the many political, economic and environmental reasons that are so rapidly eliminating these very jobs. As a self employed person I understand intimately how frightening unemployment is. I can sympathize and empathize with those who work on the estuary. Let us, as a community, find ways that protect these workers.
We are at 10 minutes to midnight. All actions that help lessen the degradation of the home we all inhabit are vital. My desperate plea is that our leaders reconsider their action and work with the whole community to resolve an action that will have years of continued industrial activity — because that has now been legally implemented.
It is not too late to change course. What will it take to make a move from the estuary to a place more appropriate and that works for everyone? Leaders, this is my challenge to you. Can you represent the whole of the community? Can you help us find a way around the divisiveness that culminated in the rezoning? Will you find a way that will accommodate both important social needs? Could you establish a task force that looks to find ways and means of accomplishing a truly important need, for my grandchildren and yours?
Who will lead this truly important action that can have important outcomes for our future generations? Who are our leaders that can determine how all interests can be recognized and helped? Alistair MacGregor, our NDP federal representative, Sonia Furstineau, our Green provincial leader, Ian Morrison, the chair of the CVRD, Al Siebring, mayor North Duncan and especially Lori Iannidinardo.
Jurisdictional applications have been stated as reasons for some leaders not to get involved; I do believe that this is not just a jurisdictional issue, rather it is an issue for us all to contemplate and consider because the outcomes affect us all, leader, industries on the estuary, citizens, children, grandchildren and others in the future.
“In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see. You grown-ups say you love us but please, let your actions reflect your words.” Gerta Thunberg, child activist.
I again plead with you. Please show us true leadership here for all of us.