Illegal to take driftwood from Goose Spit Park

Illegal to take driftwood from Goose Spit Park

By George Le Masurier —

During the years following WWII, the logging industry boomed on the B.C. coast. Tug boats pulled massive log booms down the Strait of Georgia every day, hauling millions of board feet of prime timber from northern Vancouver Island to lumber mills up the Fraser River..

Because of rapidly changing weather and stormy seas, it was a common occurrence for logs to bust loose from their booms and wash up on the shoreline. Those tangled logs, piled on top of each other, some with their root balls intact, have given a unique beauty to our beaches.

But it’s a fragile beauty. Today, tugboats rarely pull log booms down the coast, so there’s a small  supply of new wayward logs. Beachcombers and private citizens have already stripped some beaches of the most spectacular driftwood.

Fortunately, it’s illegal to remove driftwood from Crown foreshore land within or adjacent to ecological reserves or federal, provincial, regional or municipal parks. It’s also illegal to take driftwood from private land or First Nations reserves. This law preserves a piece of B.C. coast history, and creates a natural museum of the important role that coastal waters played during the heyday of raincoast logging.

Goose Spit sign

While on a walk through Goose Spit Park on B.C. Family Day, I was shocked to see some local residents stealing driftwood from this protected area. In the middle of the day, they brazenly loaded — and had perhaps cut — large pieces of driftwood with the dramatic pedestal of roots intact into their trucks parked near the public restrooms. One of them was a well-known local person.

At every access point to the beach from Goose Spit road, there’s a prominent signage pole that states, among other things, not to burn, cut or remove driftwood.

I reported these people to the Comox Valley Regional District’s community services branch, and shared photographs that identified them. The CVRD’s bylaw department sent each individual a warning letter. I would have preferred some harsher disciplinary action.

It’s disheartening that among all the people enjoying Goose Spit Park that day, I was the only person to report this crime. Many people may not know that it’s illegal to take driftwood. But, for kids and adults alike, It’s partly the large accumulation of driftwood that makes a visit to Goose Spit Park so much fun and attractive.

If we allow people to steal the remaining driftwood from one of the last protected areas, this little piece of B.C. coast lore and beauty will disappear forever.

Please don’t allow this to happen. Politely remind people attempting to take driftwood that it’s illegal to do so. Point to the sign posts. Take photographs of those that steal it anyway and report them to the regional district.

Victoria isn’t the only battleground on sewage

Victoria isn’t the only battleground on sewage

By George Le Masurier —

While the Capital Regional District slowly moves toward consensus on where to locate one or more sewage treatment plants, another wastewater infrastructure battle is just beginning further up Vancouver Island.

In the Comox Valley, strong disagreements have arisen over how to replace a deteriorating 35-year-old sewer pipeline that was unfortunately constructed through the foreshore of the Courtenay River estuary, under a regional park and along the foot of the iconic Willemar Bluffs.

Neither controversy should surprise anyone: siting a public facility within a developed urban area presents unique technical and political difficulties that can only be overcome by extraordinarily skillful political leaders solely focused on the greater good.

But in the Valley, a questionable siting process has led to a short-sighted plan that harms both taxpayers and the environment.

It’s remarkable that provincial agencies allowed the City of Courtenay and the Town of Comox to build a pipeline that carries raw sewage along the foreshore of several environmentally sensitive areas enroute to a treatment plant. Concerns about climate change and sea level rise were only beginning then, but someone should have seen the potential for an environmental disaster.

A 2005 engineering report recommended abandoning the section of the pipeline that runs along the base of the Willemar Bluffs, where it is vulnerable to winter storms. But the rest of the pipeline also needs to be replaced. In a few years, the main pump station in Courtenay will be inadequate to handle the volume created by one of the province’s fastest growing regions.

Instead of creating a new sewerage master plan for the entire Comox Valley, the CVRD is poised to apply a band-aid for Courtenay and Comox. It proposes to replace only the last half of the sewer pipeline with an overland route. But instead of upgrading the existing secondary pump station in Comox, the CVRD proposed a new pump station on Beech Street, a dense neighborhood outside the Town of Comox boundaries. This may violate the CVRD’s own bylaws.

After protests from the Beech neighborhood, the CVRD abandoned the site. But it foolishly choose another site on an intact K’omoks midden within one of the few remaining salt marshes in an Environmentally Sensitive Area Development Permit Zone, which would have also blocked a popular beach access.

It’s astonishing that the CVRD didn’t step back from these blunders and re-examine its process. They did eventually form an Advisory Committee, but it ignored the committee’s recommendations and has returned to its original Beech Street location, which the committee ranked as the worst option.

It’s unfair to site this facility in the Beech neighborhood because it has no representation on the sewage commission. Courtenay cast its three votes to oppose the Beech Street site, but a CFB Comox vote helped the three Comox representatives win a 4-3 decision.

This is unfortunate. It’s undemocratic, and dismisses public sentiment. It sets up a political and legal battle. And it creates unnecessary conflict despite having a ready solution that would receive wide public support — and which could potentially qualify the project for federal infrastructure funding.

The CVRD’s Advisory Committee gave its top recommendation to rebuilding the existing pump station in Courtenay. An independent analysis shows the CVRD could save between $7 million and $12 million in the long term if it upgraded the pumps at Courtenay and replaced the entire pipeline now. This would eliminate the need for a second pump station and eliminate the exposed section under the Willemar Bluffs.

But the remaining old pipe has to be replaced eventually, so it would be even better to reroute all of the pipeline overland. This would prevent an environmental catastrophe because a burst pipe today could pour raw sewage into the estuary.

A more ambitious plan would also prevent other battles. It’s unlikely that Environment Canada, Fisheries and the K’omoks First Nation will ever allow the CVRD to replace the pipe that runs through the estuary. The CVRD has no such agreement with agencies or the K’omoks First Nation, who recently won an award for the protection and restoration of the estuary.

It’s curious why the CVRD has not considered this win-win option. It saves long-term money. It avoids serious conflict now. It heads off future lawsuits. And it would surely score political points for the regional directors who finally correct a 35-year-old mistake.

This article was originally published in the Victoria Times-Colonist.

Welcome to the decafnation Here’s what we’re about

Welcome to the decafnation Here’s what we’re about

Welcome to decafnation, a community of thoughtful, calm people.

In a world already overpopulated with incivility, think of decafnation as a refuge from high anxiety. Instead of a triple-shot, pulse boosting caffeine assault on your nervous system, our writing aims to give you the milder buzz of a decaffeinated beverage.

But don’t let the coffee metaphor mislead you. You’ll find passionate writing and strong opinions here. We’ll take on controversial topics. We’ll explore the edges of unconventional ideas. We’ll welcome a wide range of guest contributors.

We won’t accept content that bullies, or opinions not honestly held. We’ll delete comments that attack people rather than ideas. We’ll push the trolls back under the bridges.

The vision is to create a gracious space. A place where people can share well-considered commentary in a respectful atmosphere. Where authors know that readers are open to diverse ideas. Where people invite the stranger into their midst, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political sensibility. We are people who want to understand how the world looks from behind the other person’s eyes.

But, wait, there’s more. Decafnation will also publish photography that tells a story, and we’ll expect photographers to include that story with their images. There will be reviews of books, music, art, film and pop culture. And we’ll include links to other interesting articles and websites.

So, if you want to calm down and chill out while thinking seriously about things, this is the place to be.


When Donald stops By The Woods On A Snowy Evening

When Donald stops By The Woods On A Snowy Evening

By Donald J Drumpf — 

I have a pretty good idea whose woods these are, believe me.
And let me tell you something, my people say he’s a complete nobody.
This guy lives in the village.  So what if he sees me stopping here?
I dare him to sue me!  I dare him!

And by the way, this snow is pathetic.
These are by far, the least downy flakes ever!
I hear they had to import them from Canada.
I don’t know. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. We’re looking into it.

My horse – he’s the most incredible horse, seriously,
I have the greatest, the classiest horses –
My horse doesn’t even know what the hell we’re doing here.
The horses love me though. They do.
They’re always shaking their bells at me, it’s very loving.
It’s a beautiful thing.

Let me tell you something, these woods are an embarrassment.
They’re not dark. They’re not deep. They’re nothing. They’re for losers.
And I cannot wait to sue this guy.
I cannot wait to sue this guy.

Please check out other fun pieces at the Here are direct links to a couple of them:

Dancing and 1970s fashion at the Renaissance Faire

Dancing and 1970s fashion at the Renaissance Faire

Dancing and 1970s fashion the Renaissance Faire

The Comox Valley’s counter-culture came together during the 1970s for the annual Renaissance Faire. There was music, dancing, arts and crafts and, to the horror of The Establishment, smoking of marijuana — done secretly in those days, of course. Fashion trends seem to favor long skirts and dresses for women, while the men went topless over old jeans.

Do you recognize anyone in this photograph? if you do, please leave a comment below. Or just share your memories of the Renaissance Faire. You can also join the conversation by “liking” the Decafnation Facebook page.

Keep on truckin’

George Le Masurier

Decafnation | Feb. 10, 2017

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