Our Valley needs activists
Democracy only thrives when there is civic engagement: public members who care enough to learn, gather, question, and speak up. Business interests, so beloved by some CVRD directors, already have influence on policy, with power and money. Although they are important in the community, their interests are often financial, instead of holistic. Community interests are longer and broader, including protecting our precious lands and waters that sustain life.
We activists are not power-hungry politicos, or from one party or philosophy, we are advocates for better policies, guided by humane and natural principles. We are volunteers who act on our beliefs — helping to clean up, plant, feed, study and preserve our Valley. Community and planning boards are paid public servants who should listen to us all; we speak for the many, the voiceless, and the future generations. The words economy and ecology have the same root: the household of the Earth.
As the region grows rapidly, many thoughtful people want land use and development steered towards community and liveable values. Most of us came here for the region’s beauty and friendliness. Some are alarmed at the many giant apartment complexes near the malls — just like Langford — that we never voted for. (The need for affordable housing doesn’t rest on mega developments by outsiders who take profits and leave taxpayers to pay for increased water, sewer, road, and police infrastructure.) Some question if developing and carving up farmland is in our long term interest, or if excessive pavement adds to flooding, or if logging clearings full of broom add to fire risks. These are land use questions that business can’t answer, but planners would be wise to consider them now. All regulations were made by governments, for good reasons: to control greedy development and resource extraction. That’s why slowing down approvals, not stopping projects, makes sense to many people and directors. Bigger is not always better.
We belong to the Earth, Not the other way around. We must respect the plant, animal, and microbial realms that support all life. In my 50 years here, I’ve seen small fishing and logging become big business and ruined the resources forever. We now foolishly rely on other countries for food and allow our rich rivers and bays to become drained and polluted. Meanwhile, human caused climate change wreaks havoc on our lands, air, fires and water. No wonder many of us, and our children, are alarmed and angry at the big picture: poor “business as usual” choices resulting directly in a damaged future.
Perhaps the pandemic will teach us that people’s and planet’s health matters most for survival. We now see that everyday workers keep our systems running, and both rich and poor countries have to work on poverty and health issues. I think it’s a turning point: time to reconsider and restructure our ways, on a global scale, or head towards more disasters.
The best answers are not in our politicians or our devices, they are in our hearts. We need everyone to be more active in shaping our Valley and our world. I hope that as our rights are restored, we will meet again and advocate that our wisdom lead us forward, as one community.