Westward Independent

Land Keepers – Cowichan Bay Estuary

by Westward Independent
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Hear ye, hear ye good people of the Cowichan Valley


And any and all with ears to hear and eyes to see. In these unique times we’re living, it is of paramount importance that we come to each other’s aid and raise our voices in unison. Being sparks of the Divine, universal intelligence, our cooperative, collective intention cannot help but be potentiated when we pool our diverse abilities.

There is an initiative by the Nature Trust and six partners(governmental bodies mostly), to restore 70 hectares of marshland at the head of the Cowichan estuary, through the removal of historically-placed dykes and then flooding of lands. Unfortunately, homeowners, Top Shelf, the Farm Store and some of those living on the reserve, in addition to large tracts of farmland that serve many in the community, will be negatively impacted. Is it possible to return the estuary to its former pristine grandeur? What are the factors that pollute the estuary?

Research leads one to the fact that the Lagoons that aerate the sewer waste for the Cowichan Valley, were meant to be only a temporary measure. Also, one finds that the waterways flowing into the estuary were dredged regularly in years gone by, so that fry would be able to successfully navigate the waters. Why did that stop?
Many pertinent details about these issues were discussed by Kate Ayers in her excellent article in the July 2023 publication of Country Life in BC if you wish to read a more fleshed-out narrative.

In one way or another, this affects all of us. Why were those directly affected not included in consultations and information sessions? That could have been me or you!
Have we not learned personally how very important farms and farmers are here on Vancouver Island? The grocery shelves went eerily bare only a few years ago, when we were cut off from the world for just a short time. Logically, we should be conserving every possible square inch of farmland and encouraging and supporting anyone devoted to that noble, though sometimes thankless pursuit. The birds and insects also feast from the farmers’ fields and many do not care for saltmarsh.

We will all be affected by the proposed changes to the estuary, directly or indirectly. Since the budget for this project is provided by both provincial and federal entities(read taxpayers)should it not be discussed with all of us before it can receive “authorization”?
Would it not be prudent to reassess the temporary lagoon solution to see if that measure alone would do rights by the estuary and its natural populations?
These and many other questions that this situation begs could perhaps be better solved by a wider, more inclusive dialogue.

One proposal that grew out of this scenario, was to set up an incorporated “Land Keepers Society”. This newly-formed society could hire lawyers and engage the services of a hydrologist to better determine how the dykes will protect and just how high the flooding could be.

To learn more, join us August 14th, 7-9 pm at the Cowichan Station Hub.

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