Cow Bay causeway zoning issue provincial jurisdiction
Jobs are important. The environment is important. The rezoning application for the causeway in Cowichan Bay presents the CVRD with a very difficult dilemma. A company is operating on the causeway in non-compliance with the land use zoning. That company also employs a number of Cowichan Valley residents. Further complicating the issue is the location of the company’s industrial operations. It is in a sensitive estuary and on a floodplain. A jobs versus the environment dilemma for the CVRD.
A little sleuthing reveals a big surprise. The CVRD should not be burdened with this problem. This situation is clearly the responsibility of the provincial government. The land in question is owned by the province; they are the landlords. The defining document for land use in the Cowichan estuary is the Cowichan Estuary Environmental Management Plan, established by and managed by the provincial government. Another provincial document, Guidelines for Management of Coastal Flood Hazard Land Use, sets the parameters for zoning in a floodplain.
The province owns the land. The province controls the leases. The province sets the land use standards. But the province remains mute on this important decision, preferring to abdicate it’s responsibility and pass the buck to the CVRD. It is time the provincial government took responsibility for the problem they created. The province is the landlord that turned a blind eye to a lessee operating a non-compliant industrial operation in the Cowichan estuary.
We cannot afford to lose jobs in the Cowichan Valley but we also cannot afford to put the Cowichan Bay estuary at risk. There are three water access industrial use zones within the CVRD. Bamberton, Crofton, and Chemainus all have zones that could accommodate the company now operating on the Cowichan Bay causeway. The CVRD does not have the tools or resources to facilitate a solution of this magnitude; the provincial government does.
We now have a government that purports to represent workers AND the environment. It is time to test that theory. The provincial government must find a way to save the jobs AND protect the environment. The CVRD must hand the problem back to the province with a simple statement; you created the problem, you fix it.