B.C. writer Tim Murray describes two situations:
(1) The first is his Regional District's obsession with growth. Like municipalities in many areas of Canada, the Regional District of Comox Strathcona on Vancouver Island tells its taxpayers that growth will increase its tax base and result in more services at lower cost. The problem is that this never happens.
In addition, they say growth is unstoppable and inevitable, that is, natural. The problem with this statement is that recently, the Regional District artificially caused growth in the local real estate market by negotiating to obtain direct flights between Calgary and Comox, site of a Canadian Forces Air Base. One of the results has been that wealthy Albertans have become responsible for at least 25% of all real estate purchases in the area. This has increased commissions to real estate agents, but it has inflated real estate prices and made housing unaffordable for many locals.
(2) The second situation about which he writes is the concern on Quadra Island, where he lives, with satisfying the needs of the island's people, especially with bringing more humans to the island. The problem is that the wildlife, who were there long before, lose more and more habitat. In a separate note, he makes the crucial point that of all the endangered species in Canada, 70% live in areas that face serious pressure from urban growth.
Ironically, immigration is now responsible for 85% of Metro-Vancouver's population growth. Immigration is undoubtedly responsible for a similar % of population growth in Canada's two other major immigrant-receiving areas. If urbanites want to practice the environmental ideas they preach, why aren't they demanding that immigration policy consider the obvious human threat to endangered species?
DEAR REGIONAL DISTRICT: HIRE MY DOG
Having reviewed the carnage of Quadra Island's Official Community Plan (OCP) revisions and seen the juggernaut of subdivisions advance inexorably up and around the Comox Valley, I would propose a more cost-effective and less rancorous method of ramming growth down our throats.
I would respectfully suggest that you fire the planning department and then hire my Labrador Retriever.
This suggestion has several advantages.
By attaching a rubber stamp to each of my dog feet and scattering appropriate paperwork on the floor, and then letting him run loose, development approvals can occur four times more quickly.
I have already trained my dog to roll over and play dead when a developer approaches.
My dog will work for peanuts—er, kibble.
My dog has keen hearing, so that, unlike town councilors and district reps, if he falls asleep in chambers, he will still hear what is happening around him.
My dog has no interest in taking expensive junkets to other cities at taxpayers expense. In fact, he avoids any mode of transportation (especially air) where he can stick his head out the window. I would be happy to lend my old car to the Regional District for official purposes.
When an election approaches, my Lab won have to waste time kissing the butts of business people and developers. A simple sniff on the way by is usually enough for him, and then he gets on with his business.
Finally, when the regional district needs to expropriate property, it usually involves considerable work and expense. In contrast, when my dog marks his territory, no lawyers are involved and his territory can still revert easily to the original owners. This would give us a leg up on legal bills.
I ask that you paws and give this suggestion serious consideration. Out of concern for taxpayers, it surely is the leash you can do.
(2) THE WILDLIFE'S OFFICIAL COMMUNITY PLAN
I should like to make the following Public Service Announcement on behalf of the WOLVES, COUGARS AND BEARS OF QUADRA ISLAND regarding THEIR OFFICIAL COMMUNITY PLAN (OCP):
As residents of Quadra Island since the last ice age, their voice has never been heard in the formulation of human OCP's. These plans have always been about what people needed: how people had to sell off their acreages to newcomers to finance their retirement; or how they had to help out their offspring; or how they needed affordable housing for seniors or young families so the island's school could stay open. Never a thought was given to the pressure of thousands of more residents on the island's wildlife. Just keep growing has been the mantra.
The majestic predators of Quadra would not assert their right to claim all of the island, but merely to maintain their place on it. But even the best game management cannot protect them from human over-population, which seldom over-takes us in one fell swoop, but incrementally through innocuous steps.
In 2007, the island's population is 2700 people. Thirty years from now, it may be 10,000, the population of Saltspring Island today.
Question: How many cougars and wolves live on Saltspring now?
Clearly what is needed is not wildlife management, but human management. Not stewardship, but studentship of wildlife's needs.
Therefore the OCP for the Predators of Quadra Island calls for a limit on people. And in the same spirit of exclusivity that people have imposed on them, the wildlife of Quadra Island has closed its hearings to human input.