The east side of Quadra Island is in danger of becoming our new industrial zone. The We Wai Kai Nation (Cape Mudge Band), has applied to the Integrated Land Management Bureau for a disposition over crown land for the purpose of long-line scallop farming. (More about the ILMB at the end of this article).
An application to rezone foreshore waters to permit the scallop farm adjacent to Rebecca Spit is currently before the Regional District. It is expected that the application will pass 1st and 2nd reading in September and will go to a public hearing on Quadra in early October.
If you’ve been to the Spit, walked down to Paddy’s Lagoon, or been out in a boat in that area you’ve probably seen the four yellow navigation markers and the handful of white floats that are evidence of the current investigative farm. A two-year Temporary Industrial Use Permit was granted to the We Wai Kai Nation in July 2008 so they could investigate the possibility of raising scallops. Believing that they can grow scallops, the Band has decided to apply for permanent occupation and is seeking provincial and regional district approval. The water would be rezoned to aquaculture – 2, which allows the growing of scallops, geoducks and other molluscs. The current zoning is for various recreational uses.
The investigative farm appears small and benign. It occupies only a small portion of the area of the TIUP and a smaller area yet of the expansion for which they have applied. The expanded farm would be more than a kilometer long and almost a kilometer wide with as many as 180 surface floats. The current farm and area of the TIUP are located directly in front of Paddy’s Lagoon, and directly in front of Indian Reserve #9. If the application is approved, the scallop farm will expand south, directly in front of two residential properties, and north into our OCP Marine Reserve Zone.
A few years ago a company applied for the right to grow geoducks in Open Bay and along the east side of the Island. Many Islanders wrote letters in opposition and the plan was defeated. In an attempt to prevent that type of industry and to bolster other similar language, the following was added to our 2007 OCP.
2.2k (iv) “ To discourage commercial resource based marine use adjacent to settlement areas”
Approval of this application, especially allowing for expansion, will establish a dangerous precedent. As acknowledged by Regional District planners, we can expect similar applications. One of the arguments for allowing the temporary farm was that it would not be in front of or adjacent to a settlement area. Due to their importance to Islanders and our Island’s economy, Rebecca Spit and Paddy’s Lagoon, which are adjacent to settlement areas, must be protected. If this application is allowed to proceed, it is very likely that the next area of application, also adjacent to settlement areas will be in the bay in front of Haskin’s Farm Trail. If a precedent is established to allow marine based industrial activity adjacent to residential neighbourhoods, our entire foreshore is at risk.
It is important to remember that the property owners who will be immediately affected by this application are long-time, well respected members of our community. They have invested twenty years of their lives to develop their properties and realize their dreams. It is fundamentally unfair that, for the price of an application and a public hearing, a company or group can wreak havoc on their lives.
Whenever a disposition over crown land (or water) is granted, that area becomes private and can be, as the scallop farm will be, off limits to everyone else. The best uses for the waters described in the application are; for the enjoyment of Quadra Islanders and our visitors, to be able to walk along a peaceful beach free of industrial activity and noise, for recreational boating, kayaking, canoeing, and for recreational fishing.The Integrated Land Management Bureau is accepting comments about this application only until September 4th.
Please ask them to deny this application for disposition over crown land. State your personal reasons. Feel free to use anything in this letter. Write your letters now. They can be sent by email. We cannot afford apathy.
Land Act: Notice of intention to apply for a disposition of crown land. File number:1411207
Direct comments to: Section Head, Integrated Land Management Bureau, 142-2080 Labieux Rd., Nanaimo, BC, V9T6J9 or Email to : AuthorizingAgency.Nanaimogov.bc.ca
The application can be viewed at: http://www.ilmb.gov.bc.ca
under the link Applications and Reasons for Decision.
Deadline for submissions: September 4, 2009Sample letters and information for submissions are provided as attachments to this article.