Comox Valley lags the world without ban on plastic bags

Comox Valley lags the world without ban on plastic bags

The decades-old, worldwide movement to ban the use of thin plastic bags has finally reached Vancouver Island — but not the Comox Valley.

From Uganda to St. John’s Newfoundland. And from Denmark to California, cities, states and entire countries have banned the distribution of the thin single-use polyethylene plastic bags.

And the trend is moving north on Vancouver Island. A Victoria bag ban goes into effect on July 1. Nanaimo has voted to ban the bags, and Parksville and Qualicum Beach are in the process.

But the topic has barely crossed the radar of elected officials in the Comox Valley.

What’s the problem?

One trillion lightweight plastic shopping bags are used worldwide every year, according to the Earth Policy Institute. That’s two million every minute.

Americans use about one of these bags per person per day. Canadians use one to two bags per week. In Denmark, where the world’s first plastic bag ban was implemented in 1993, Danes use only about four bags per person per year.

Based on a rough estimate of our current regional population (67,000), and if Comox Valley residents are typical Canadian consumers, we’re using and discarding somewhere between 9,000 and 19,000 plastic bags per day.

That’s a big problem. Most of these bags contain polyethylene and therefore do not biodegrade. They will last virtually forever.

And, unfortunately, fewer than 3 percent of the bags get recycled. The rest end up in landfills or fly away to wallpaper fences and trees and often will ultimately wash down rivers and streams into the ocean.

Among the common trash items found on beaches, the bags rank second, contributing significantly to the massive patch of garbage swirling together in the Pacific Ocean. When the plastic eventually breaks down into tiny bits, it’s consumed by marine life and then works it way back up the food chain to humans.

To address this issue, governments across Canada and around the world are curtailing the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags .

Comox Valley elected officials

It’s surprising that the Comox Valley, a region with such a strong environmental reputation, has not yet banned non-biodegradable bags. Especially because there are plenty of documented benefits and practically no downside to a ban.

But from a quick email survey of Comox Valley elected officials, it appears that only the City of Courtenay has ever discussed the topic of banning single-use plastic bags.

Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula said, “Our council dealt with this issues several years ago and at that time choose to convince retail outlets to push for cloth shopping bags, which has been done.”

Councilor Bob Wells said he recalls that discussion and he subsequently supported the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce’s successful initiative to encourage retailers and consumers to use reusable shopping bags.

Still, Wells said he could support a city bag ban.

In Comox, Mayor Paul Ives doesn’t favor a municipal ban, although Councilor Maureen Swift said “It sounds like a great idea.”

“It would be best to come from the retail sector rather than top down,” Ives said.

That sentiment was echoed by Cumberland council members, who feel it’s a non-issue in their village.

“Many of Cumberland’s vendors are already doing it (not offering plastic bags),” said Council Roger Kishi. “We don’t want to be ‘big’ government, so we don’t want to intervene where we don’t need to.”

Councilor Gwen Sproule agreed.

“Not sure why it would be discussed, because I can’t think which business gives out single-use bags,” she said. “Certainly not Seeds Organics supermarket.”

But Sproule added that possibly the convenience stores are using them, and that might warrant some discussion.

A Chamber effort in 2009

It’s somewhat surprising that the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce has been the leader of a movement to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags. It’s generally — and wrongly — assumed that businesses oppose banning the bags.

But Chamber Chief Executive Officer Diane Hawkins said there was a “terrific response from the business community … to our well-run marketing plan.”

Promotion poster from the 2009 Chamber initiative to reduce use of plastic shopping bags

Starting on February 13, 2009, more than 60 local businesses and agencies participated in distributing 75,000 reusable shopping bags to customers through businesses and local schools in an effort to reduce plastic bag use. There was an accompanying education campaign to explain why the bags are harmful and how people could get involved.

“We had terrific community engagement,” Hawkins said. “People still ask us if they can buy the chamber Eco-Bags. It was a wonderful project that embraced the entire Comox Valley.”

The chamber also lobbied their B.C. chamber colleagues to adopt a “Bagless BC policy.” But the initiative for a provincial bag ban didn’t get much traction.

As good as it was, the chamber’s program relied on each individual business to voluntarily stop using plastic bags. Many, perhaps most, locally-owned businesses still do not offer plastic bags.

But the biggest source of plastic bags in our environment have not complied. Many big box stores, convenience stores, grocery stores and others still offer them. And some of the worst bags come from specialty clothing store chains that give out large plastic bags with purchases.

Yet, Costco has proven that big volume retailers can thrive without offering any shopping bags whatsoever.

Meaghan Cursons, who was contracted to manage the chamber’s initiative, said the biggest problem is changing the behaviour of consumers.

“Until we change, in a significant way, how we as a culture consume, the bag issue won’t go away,” she said. “But removing the ones that don’t actually get recycled, float away in the wind, end up in the water and look like seaweed and sea life is a great start.”

Worldwide bag bans

Leaf Rapids, Man. was the first community in Canada to ban plastic bags in April 2007. Since then, hundreds of large and small Canadian municipalities have followed suit.

Toronto was the first major city in Canada to ban plastic bags effective on Jan. 1, 2013. A Montreal ban begins Jan. 1, 2018.

St. John’s Newfoundland voted in a ban on Nov. 15, despite council members pleading for a province-wide ban.

“Come on, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, get this done for all of us,” said Councilor Debbie Hanlon to CBC News.

A high school student in Fort McMurray, Alberta, created a widely supported petition in 2008 that persuaded the City Council to adopt a ban in 2009.

 

So in the epicenter of the Canadian oil sands, fossil fuel industry workers carry reusable bags into their grocery stores. If it can happen there, surely it could happen in the Comox Valley.

Denmark was the first country to enact a nationwide ban, but many others have followed: Ireland, Italy, Iceland, Brazil, Bangladesh, Belgium and the list goes on.

It will surprise many that Africa has been a global leaders in the bag ban movement. The flimsy bags were a blight on the African landscape, and many people resorted to burning them, which contributed to the 23 percent of all African deaths  linked to environmental factors.

Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia all have total bans in place.

Why not have a Valley-wide ban?

We used to package fast food in Styrofoam boxes, because it was cheap and easy, or so we thought. Once consumers and businesses realized the true costs of the environmental cleanup, it was a painless transition back to paper containers.

No one misses Styrofoam, certainly not our city sewers or the mid-ocean garbage gyres.

There is simply no good reason to continue using the plastic bags in the Comox Valley when there are constructive alternatives available: reusable bags or five-cent paper bags.

Several elected officials told Decafnation that a Valley-wide ban would be too difficult to coordinate between municipalities and the regional district. But it’s been done successfully in other communities that encompass multiple jurisdictions.

And those who use the harmful plastic bags for garbage or picking up dog poop would just have to buy biodegradable versions.

As Meaghan Cursons said, our “culture has to shift its thinking in general about consumption, and waste.”

Besides, when did shoppers become entitled to free plastic bags? It’s a convenience we’ve come to expect, but which our planet can no longer afford.

Further reading: Stop being a bag lady (or bag guy), St. John’s wants province to ban bags, Which countries have banned plastic bags?, What’s so bad about plastic bags?

 

 

Could Kus-kus-sum go coastal?

Could Kus-kus-sum go coastal?

Photo: A view of the Campbell River estuary as it was in 1989, before restoration. Courtesy of Tim Ennis

 

The importance of the planned restoration of the Fields Sawmill site may well go beyond repairing a blight on the Comox Valley’s image. It’s likely to influence the prospects of a coast-wide approach to replacing multiple forest industry eyesores with ecological assets.

The remnants of early-20th century logging practices can be found all up and down Vancouver Island’s coastlines in the persona of abandoned sawmills, which were almost always located in estuaries.

These shuttered mills that once buzzed around the clock, cutting logs into usable lumber, have fallen victim to government policies that allow the export of raw logs, and to changing industry practices.

In the early 1900s, timber companies moved their logs by rail to larger rivers where they were dumped into the river, boomed, then towed by tugboats to sawmills located in estuaries. While booming adored our beaches with interesting collections of driftwood, it was inefficient and slow.

That practice still goes on in the Fraser River and in the Nanaimo and Ladysmith areas. But most Island logging has now moved toward truck-based transportation. It’s flexible, less expensive more reliable.

The change means sawmills no longer need to be located in intertidal environments. And that, in turn, means there’s an opportunity to restore those shorelines and estuaries to their natural habitat, and create functioning ecosystems for fish and other wildlife.

A view of the Campbell River estuary in 2016, after restoration

If Project Watershed — the nonprofit leading Field Sawmill project, called Kus-kus-sum to honor an ancient First Nations village across the river — succeeds in raising the $6.5 million it needs to purchase the property and restore it, other communities will be inspired to seize their own opportunities.

And there are plenty of them.

Closed sawmills

In Tahsis, there are concrete slabs where two former sawmills once operated on the estuary. They closed down in 2001 and 2003. The Gold River Bowater pulp mill, also located on a river, closed in 1999.

In Port Alberni, the Somass sawmill officially closed in August, but has been essentially shut down for a year. The APD mill there is down to just one shift of workers per day. Both are located on the Alberni inlet.

The Campbell River pulp mill sits empty on about a mile of prime shoreline.

While the loss of jobs devastated those small towns, they have reinvented themselves as destinations for tourism and sport fishing. Reclaiming the abandoned mill sites would help, not hinder, their economic prosperity.

Tim Ennis, senior project manager for the Kus-kus-sum project, believes there may be many opportunities on the B.C. coast to restore former sawmill sites located in estuaries, without negative impacts to the forest economy.

That’s because trucking has replaced marine-based transport as the preferred method of transporting logs and newer government regulations are more restrictive in estuarine environments. So the forest industry doesn’t rely on the use of estuaries as it did in the past.

Campbell River led the way

Project Watershed has viewed the restoration of three sawmill sites in the Campbell River estuary as a model for their Kus-kus-sum project.

Ennis managed the Campbell River project. At the time, he was the director of land stewardship for the B.C. region of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which purchased the former Raven Lumber sawmill property as well as two smaller operations in the estuary.

He is now the senior project manager for Kus-kus-sum, as well as the executive director of the Comox Valley Land Trust, and brings his experience from much larger restoration projects.

“Compared to the Campbell River situation,” Ennis said. “The Field Sawmill site does not appear to be nearly as complex to restore and offers a huge potential benefit for the community.”

The projects are similar, he said, in that both are being led by nonprofit organizations. One of the Campbell River mills, known locally as Ocean Blue, closely resembled the Field Sawmill site, including a solid wall fronting the river.

But there are also critical differences.

The Campbell River City Council was committed to de-industrializing the river estuary. The city created an estuary management commission, which developed an estuary management plan. That plan included a conscious effort to relocate industrial operations away from the estuary.

So there was considerable political support in Campbell River, which was matched by the city’s financial contribution of approximately 25 percent of the land acquisition costs.

The City of Courtenay, on the other hand, was not the source of inspiration for restoring the Fields Sawmill site. Kus-kus-sum has been primarily driven by NGO and First Nations leadership.

And the City Council has not yet committed itself to any degree of financial support toward acquisition costs.

They have waived property taxes for two years while Project Watershed raises acquisition funds. But the eventual title will name the city as part owners of the property.

Nor has the Town of Comox or the Comox Valley Regional District made commitments, both of which stand to benefit as much as Courtenay from eliminating this eyesore on a main transportation corridor.

Fortunately, the K’omoks First Nations are committed and strong partners on the Kus-kus-sum project.

Not only are the K’omoks chief, council, band administration and Guardian Watchman department onside, nearly every K’omoks band member has signed a petition supporting the cause.

The Campbell River Indian Band was not as active.

If Kus-kus-sum succeeds, it will build on the restoration momentum from Campbell River, and set the stage for a much grander opportunity: to inspire and support the restoration of other abandoned sawmill sites throughout the B.C. coast.

How you can help

Kus-kus-sum needs community financial support in order to leverage the millions of dollars needed from granting organizations and the federal and provincial governments. Their website makes it easy to donate.

 

The Ocean Blue site in Campbell River before restoration

The Ocean Blue site after restoration

 

Engineers battle coastal tankers

Engineers battle coastal tankers

Brian Gunn forms Concerned Professional Engineers

Photo: Aframax tanker negotiating the Second Narrows Bridge in the Burrard Inlet.

 

By Catherine Gilbert

From his office located on the second floor of the log home overlooking Upper Campbell Lake that he shares with partner Myrna Boulding, Brian Gunn has been working tirelessly for the past 15 years to make a better BC. 

He works without any expect of a reward; in fact often traveling and hiring help at his own expense. A retired engineer and former owner of a dude ranch in the Cariboo, Gunn is also past president of the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC, an organization that gives a voice to adventure tourism operators on issues such as land use and park permits. 

He is nearing his 80th birthday, yet still remains engaged in various advocacy issues and has garnered a reputation for getting things done.

The Second Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1979 when a ship collided with it

His latest project has been to form an organization known as Concerned Professional Engineers, or CPE that is composed of other retired engineers as well as a professor of engineering at UBC, Dr. Ricardo Fosci. The CPE have joined forces to challenge the methods in which oil products are being shipped from and along the coast of British Columbia. 

It all began with a trip up the northern coast of BC in the summer of 2012, starting in Bella Coola and ending in Kitimat, when Gunn and Norm Allyn interviewed residents and local politicians about their attitudes towards the proposed Northern Gateway Project. This developed into applying with the National Energy Board for Intervenor status, being accepted and attending the hearings at Prince Rupert. 

The CPE expressed the concern that NG intended to ship dilbit (diluted bitumen) by tanker out of Kitimat.  Kitimat is located 300 km from the open Pacific, and to reach the ocean, tankers would have to navigate narrow, foggy, stormy passages in an area of some of BC’s most pristine ocean environment. 

Instead of Kitimat, the CPE felt that Enbridge should have been considering alternative ports such as Port Simpson or Prince Rupert. One of their other major concerns is that not enough testing has been done to know how dilbit behaves in a marine environment and that the consequences of a major spill are unknown.

The map shows the position of both the First and Second Narrows Bridges in Burrard Inlet

Most recently, the CPE has been challenging Kinder Morgan’s proposal to increase their transport of oil through the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver from one day per week to seven days (the TransMountain Expansion). Already, alarm bells were going off when the CPE considered the danger in having any large tankers at all progress through the inlet, passing the First and Second Narrows bridges before arriving at the open ocean. 

They have proposed that Kinder Morgan should change its shipping terminal to Roberts Bank, just outside Tsawwassen, which would place the oil tankers away from the city.

As spokesperson for the CPE, Gunn likes to make it clear that the CPE are not against the oil industry and understand its relationship to Canadian economic growth.

They are however, concerned about protecting the British Columbia coast and its environment. They wish to provide an informed view of how projects such as Northern Gateway and the Transmountain Expansion can be made as safe as humanly possible. As Gunn says, “there is no such thing as 100 percent safe, but we know that there are safer alternatives than what are being currently proposed.”

Visit their website for details on what action the CPE has been taking, and what they propose still needs to be done.

Catherine Gilbert is a Citizen Journalist currently in Victoria writing a graduate thesis about Strathcona Park and continues to assist Brian Gunn with CPE correspondence. She can be reached through her website http://catherinegilbert.ca

 

Waste to energy discussion missed the GHG point

Waste to energy discussion missed the GHG point

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed Canada to aggressive reductions in our annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It will take a coordinated national effort to get there, and that means small communities across the country, like the Comox Valley, must be constantly thinking of new ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

And yet, that doesn’t appear to be the dominant mindset among Comox Valley municipal staff and elected officials. They’re fixated on keeping taxes as low as possible.

A meeting this week of the Comox Strathcona Waste Management board’s special committee to explore the benefits of converting municipal waste to energy (WTE) provided a case in point.

According to a consultant’s report, which compared three different WTE technologies, if the north Island continues to bury its garbage in the Pigeon Lake landfill, we will produce 821,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) over the next 40-year period.

The worst (highest) CO2e emissions from any of the three reviewed WTE technologies was only 179,000 tonnes.

And one of the technologies would achieve a net reduction of CO2e by -777,000 tonnes.

In other words, by implementing WTE technology, the entire north Island could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste by at least 80 percent, and possibly by roughly 200 percent.

So it should boggle the mind of anyone concerned about climate change that those facts weren’t the main topic of discussion.

Instead, the committee members and staff spent two hours debating the confusing cost comparisons in the consultant’s report. And the report was confusing, if not seriously flawed.

It’s important to have an accurate comparison between the cost of the existing landfill operation and any new WTE technology. Elected officials need that data to make informed decisions, and seek federal and provincial funding.

And the public wants cost information, too. Of course.

But, holy cow, the environmental benefits of any WTE solution for disposing of household and commercial garbage are overwhelming and undeniable.

It should have been the main topic of discussion, had the consultant’s report not obfuscated the monetary issues.

Landfills account for 20 percent of Canada’s methane emissions, which are 25 times more potent in accelerating global warming than other greenhouse gases. It may be the single largest impact that regional districts can have on the national GHG reduction target.

That’s why the recommendation by Comox Valley Regional District staff was so shocking, and out of step with the mission of the WTE committee.

Staff recommended the committee discontinue looking at WTE solutions until 2022, primarily because landfilling was portrayed as the least expensive option.

But until CVRD staff prepare more accurate cost comparisons, that’s not a proven fact.

In either case, the recommendation sends the message that although landfilling may pollute more and accelerate global warming, it will keep our taxes lower.

And that, unfortunately, appears to be a common mindset among too many within Comox Valley municipal governments.

We expect our elected officials to spend our tax dollars wisely, and make prudent decisions. But there’s a new paradigm that injects environmental factors into the definition of prudence.

And that’s the kind of thinking that will save this planet from the disastrous effects of climate change.

CVRD internal tension builds over waste to energy report

CVRD internal tension builds over waste to energy report

Related topic: Did the waste-to-energy committee discussion miss the point? 

The tension between staff and elected officials of the Comox Strathcona Waste Management board (CSWM) ramped up another notch this week.

The friction has increased since directors openly criticized Comox Valley Regional District staff at a full CSWM board meeting two weeks ago. They accused staff of manipulating the wording of an engineering contract to disregard the will of publicly elected officials.

At that same meeting, CSWM directors also accused staff of giving more weight in their recommendations to the views of a staff advisory board than to the elected board.

This breakdown of trust and struggle for power erupted again this week when directors rejected a staff recommendation to set aside the committee’s interest in technologies that convert solid waste into energy.

A select committee of the CSWM board has been exploring the latest technologies that transform undiverted municipal solid waste into energy or recyclable materials, rather than burying it in a landfill.

The committee’s chair, Area B Director Rod Nichol, said the committee’s goal is to extend the useful life of the Pigeon Lake landfill and to not squander the inherent energy contained in undiverted waste.

And to dispose of solid waste in a manner more friendly to the environment.

But when consulting firm Morrisson Herschfield tabled its evaluation of three companies that offer varying WTE technologies, it quickly became obvious that staff and elected officials were at odds again.

Directors privately wondered if they had received the full consultant’s report, or whether they got a version amended by the staff advisory committee.

Marc Rutten, the CVRD’s General Manager of Engineering Services, recommended that the CSWM board stop its consideration of WTE technologies, and take it up again in 2022 as part of the 10-year update of its 2012 Solid Waste Management Plan.

That didn’t sit well with directors who instead ordered staff to use the consultant’s data to provide a more accurate cost comparison between the status quo of burying undiverted waste in a landfill and two of the different WTE technologies.

Rutten based his recommendation on the consultant’s conclusion that continuing to bury undiverted waste was less expensive and less risky than any of the three WTE technologies.

But directors questioned the validity of the consultant’s report, saying it didn’t give a true “apples to apples” comparison of costs.

The report only compared the cost of the CSWM landfilling operations to the costs of the three WTE technologies. It didn’t take into account the CSWM’s cost of source-separating recyclables and organic composting, which is already included in most processes that convert waste to energy.

Campbell River Director Charlie Cornfield was adamant that the cost comparison was flawed, and other directors agreed they didn’t have enough information to make a decision about whether to pursue one of the WTE solutions.

Directors asked staff to prepare a more detailed analysis of what would change for the CSWM operation with the implementation of each technology, what wouldn’t change, and what that would cost.

They also want a breakdown of the cost of each of the CSWM current operations, such as source-separating materials, composting organics, education programs, dealing with hazardous refuse, etc.

Director Roger Kishi of Cumberland urged the committee to eliminate incineration technology as a third WTE option.

Incineration involves direct burning of undiverted waste. It’s a technology commonly used in Europe and at B.C.’s only WTE facility in Burnaby.

And while the emissions from incinerating waste are minimal, according to the consultant, Kishi said the public could never support the optics of a tall smokestack.

After more than two hours of debate, one thing became obvious: The consultant’s terms of reference conflicted with the elected officials goals and weren’t adequate for them to assess cost comparisons between the status quo of landfilling and new technologies that convert that waste into energy.

It’s important for the CSWM committee to fully understand the cost of undertaking any new technology. And to do that the committee must have accurate comparisons if it hopes to convince the CSWM board, the public and the provincial government that moving to a WTE solution makes sense for taxpayers and the environment.

 

A lament for Strathcona Park

A lament for Strathcona Park

Time to hold mines and loggers accountable

By Susanne Lawson

Strathcona Park is a good example of what can go wrong when resources and money are the primary consideration.  

Almost a century ago, people saw the beauty of the area as an equivalent to Banff.  Elk Valley was bounded by Buttle Lake and Campbell Lake with Myra Falls at the end of it. The valley was full of giant forest, elk, wildlife and the lakes teemed with trout.

The trout fishing was the reason Strathcona Park Lodge (est. 1911) exists today. Jim Boulding and his wife Myrna established a beautiful lodge on the lake and lived a good life, just outside the park boundaries. They raised a big family and fought for the preservation of the beauty and intrinsic values of the park.

It is unfortunate that the B.C. government didn’t see that value.  

When I visited recently, Myrna explained to me that the original lodge used to be 140 feet below where we now stood. It is hard to comprehend the vast degradation the park underwent in those past years and the heart-breaking processes that the Bouldings watched take place.  

Aerial view of the John Hart Dam

In 1948, the B.C. Power Commission decided to dam the north end of Upper Campbell Lake to generate power for a growing Campbell River region. This caused the Elk Valley to flood. Upper Campbell Lake and the Elk Valley became one huge dammed Buttle Lake, where water levels rose 18 feet. That left a shoreline of dead trees and stumps, and 10 to 20 feet of gravel in the dead zone between high and low waters.

A pulp mill was built near Campbell River in 1952 to take advantage of the new, inexpensive source of power.

The power station at the John Hart dam is being upgraded for seismic purposes.

The flushing of the water to adjust the power flows also flushed out spawning salmon from the Campbell River. No fish ladders were Installed, so trout ceased going out and salmon ceased coming in.

The logging of the valley was part of the damming process, and so, then why not just take what old growth was valuable in the process? Along with that, fires from the ever present slash burning got out of control and the area burned.  

Well, as if that wasn’t enough, the government decided in 1965 to issue mining permits within the park, not just small ones but mile-deep monstrosities with huge factories to break up the ore with noisy rolling balls and chemicals like cyanide to break it down. The tailings were dumped into ponds that were always overflowing into the lakes until the trout became poisonous, at least their livers were officially announced dangerous to consume.

Hikers into the park could hear the giant fans deep within the earth going 24/7 to ensure those miners down there survived, despite the ore dust they inhaled. Then, more mines were given the go ahead and places like Cream Lake on top of the mountains there and other areas were being drilled for ore.  

That is when the protests started in the 1980s. Swans that inhabited the upper end of the now dammed Buttle Lake were found dead with oil on their feathers, something that perhaps helped, along with public outcry, to stop the incursion of more mines.  

Two status of parks ensued, Class A and Class B. Heaven help you if you want to enjoy a class B park. Watch out for mine shafts and ore trucks.  

Logging continues all around the park and you would be hard pressed to find any old growth forest left within eyesight, although there is lots of fresh logging.

Many years ago, the B.C. government awarded CP Rail the E&N Rail Grant for the northeast side of Strathcona Park, and at one time, the border between the park and the grant  ran through the northeast corner of Buttle Lake. This was a time when it looked as if the rail line would continue up island and possibly into Strathcona Park, which was envisioned as another Banff.

Eventually a select number of logging companies in the early 1950s we4re allowed to purchase parts of the grant and these companies logged around the borders of the park and on the shores of Buttle Lake with in the grat area. Today, this entire region is owned by Timberwest who purchased the land from the smaller companies.

The people of BC. gave up park land in order to have a perpetual railroad in operation on Vancouver Island only the logging companies conveniently forgot about that part of the bargain.

How come the people get nothing out of these deals?  

Westmin Mines, commonly known as the Myra Falls Mine, has changed hands numerous times wince Westmin first developed it in 1965. It was recently sold to Nyrstar, and then closed for several years. Nystar is now getting the mine up and running.

The giant pulp mill will never operate again due to the lack of demand for newsprint and other paper products. There was an attempt to turn the old mill into an LNG facility, but with a glut of liquid natural gas all over the world, that idea went the way of the dodo.  

Isn’t it about time to hold these corporations accountable? And time for a new paradigm … for the sake of our children and the future?

Susanne Lawson has lived in Clayoquot Sound for 50 years. She is a resident of Tofino, B.C. 

University of Victoria graduate student Catherine Gilbert contributed factual information for this commentary.

 

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