Second Article written for the Shawnigan Focus on Governance
The permit by South Island Aggregates has been approved to dump hazardous material in our watershed. The cries of anguish from our fellow residents are being heard; people are lashing out at our politicians, the environment ministry and SIA.
Who is the right target here? Who is to blame?
It must be the politicians, right? No – our provincial politicians are prevented from politicizing this issue. To prevent politicians from using environmental issues as election incentives, these kinds of decisions have been given over to the Environment Ministry as they have been with BC Ferries and ICBC. These decisions are free from political interference and are made with only scientific data and a set of criteria.
Then it must be the environment ministry. No – they have nothing to gain here. They’re a bunch of bureaucrats that are paid to follow protocol.
The owners at SIA must be out to destroy our watershed then? No – the owners of SIA are just business people doing what business people do. They believe that their containment system will work and that we are all wrong about the risks. They are our neighbours and large employers here in South Cowichan. They don’t want to hurt the lake.
So, who do we blame? Last month I discussed the fact that we make all the decisions in our democratic society. We had the power to stop this from ever becoming an issue. The last time that incorporation was introduced the residents here rejected that plan. Had we become an incorporated municipality, we would be controlling our own land use right now instead of relying on the provincial government to decide these things for us.
We are the largest area that is not incorporated in BC. It is about time that we stood up for ourselves and stopped the whining and finger pointing about issues that we could be controlling. The Shawnigan Residents Association has completed a phase 1 study of incorporation. We need phase 2 before we can appeal to the province to allow us to incorporate. This phase is about what we want to take on as a municipality and what we want to leave in the hands of the CVRD. This is a complex study that takes all the costs and operations into account so that we can make an informed decision that will meet the provincial government guidelines.
We all need to get behind this, because if we don’t, we will continue to face land use issues that threaten our way of life. How long should we allow the province to make all the decisions and then complain about the results instead of looking after ourselves. We need to grow up.