Union Bay residents meet to protect their watershed
BY ALICE de WOLFF
Forty-five residents of Union Bay met on Monday evening, March 19, to discuss their concerns about proposed logging on the lake that provides them with drinking water, and to begin to work together on how to address these concerns.
Langley Lake is a small, shallow lake that currently provides drinking water and fire services for over 600 Union Bay residences. Island Timberlands owns the land around the lake and has announced plans to log within 20 meters of the shoreline in 2019.
The evening was the first public meeting of the newly formed Union Bay Watershed Protection Society. The group’s intention is to first, stop logging around Langley Lake, and then to promote provincial legislation that enables all BC communities to protect their watershed. Current provincial legislation does not make this possible.
Residents at the meeting all expressed concern about the likelihood of increased turbidity in their water after the logging. The Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) has just approved plans and financing for a new water treatment facility, but it is not designed to handle the turbidity that could be the result of the logging.
“Surely we can learn from the experience with Comox Lake and the very expensive system that they have to install now. Let’s be pro-active and not let this happen here,” said Yolanda Corrigall.
The meeting learned that UBID’s water quality monitoring shows that after a section of the lakeshore was logged in 2008, turbidity increased and did not settle to pre-logging levels until 2017. Longer-term residents described how their tap water used to be “brown” and that they needed to use in-house filters.
The meeting also heard about the efforts of the residents of Stillwater near Powell River, who went through a long but ultimately successful process of protecting their watershed from logging. This lead to a discussion of what actions Union Bay residents could take, and plans for further actions.
The agenda included 20 minutes for people to take the immediate action of writing letters to elected officials. Hand written letters are still one of the most effective ways to reach our elected representatives.
The meeting started with an acknowledgement that Union Bay has a fractious history and that there are many tensions in the community. Towards the end of the meeting several residents expressed a cautious new hope that working together to protect our water might help heal some of the divisions in the community.
Facilitator David Mills asked the group to work respectfully and to focus on our common concern – safe, clean drinking water.
FURTHER READING: Logging at Langley Lake; Contact the Union Bay Watershed Protection Society at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alice de Wolff is a Citizen Journalist for The Civic Journalism Project. She may be contacted at email@example.com