Watershed just needs government to do its job
Our MLA Sonia Furstenau has a strong commitment to the well being of our Cowichan Valley. Her past track record as the CVRD area director for Shawnigan Lake proves that.
Sonia held a speech at the B.C. Legislature praising the achievements of the Cowichan Watershed Board. I am a member of this board, and I agree with Sonia to a point.
However, comparing the Victoria or Vancouver Watersheds to the Cowichan Watershed is like comparing apples to oranges.
Victoria’s Sooke Reservoir is totally owned by the city; it is fenced, no logging is allowed. There are no boats or people allowed. It is totally controlled.
The Vancouver water system is supplied by the Capilano Reservoir, the Seymour Reservoir and the Coquitlam Reservoir. They each contribute about one-third of the water to the city. All of them are either owned by the city or on a 999 year lease from the Crown. They do not allow the public to trespass, they do not allow boats, they do not allow logging. All three watersheds are fenced, totally controlled.
Compare that to our Cowichan Watershed. There is car traffic, boat traffic, people swim, relieving their bladders. There are houses, some of them with outdated septic systems.
The Cowichan Watershed is surrounded by private forest lands, which are being logged. There is no way that this watershed will ever be totally controlled. There are too many different jurisdictions. There are too many ministries involved. By being open to the public, there are too many things that can happen, over which we have no control.
Therefore, local control of our watershed, while desirable, will never be totally achieved.
It is for that reason that the provincial government has the primary responsibility when it comes to our watershed. The provincial government has the legislative power to protect and enforce. It should use that power rather than delegating it to other entities. The current responsibilities are very clear. The B.C. government is responsible for the river and the fish, the federal government is responsible for the salmon, Catalyst Mill is responsible for the weir.
By changing these responsibilities, the B.C. government is about to create another level of bureaucracy to be supported by our local taxpayers.
I agree that the current system is far from ideal. But most of the fault lies with the B.C. government for not having had the will to use its legislative powers to bring order to this ragged system. It is hoped that the newly elected B.C. government, with its emphasis on the environment, will remember its roots again. We do not need more bureaucracy, we just need the government to do the job it was elected to do.
Director Area I, CVRD