General · 15th November 2013
An Open Letter to Director Noba Anderson
Dear Ms. Anderson,
After reading your last “Happy Fall Cortes” Newsletter, I must add that I, too, think that the residential school system was one of the most odious policies ever enacted by the Canadian Government, and that strong reconciliation measures are long overdue. On this point, we are in complete agreement; and I think that the suggestion to help reconcile this past through Regional District funded positions is a very good idea. However, I am bothered by the blatant political posturing that accompanied your report. You said that Cortes overwhelmingly supported reconciliation as well as the Klahoose application for a Marina at Squirrel Cove. While this may be true (but see George Creek’s 4 November letter in Tidelines), the followup statement that you only work to represent the views and interests of Cortes Islanders, is contravened by a number of your past actions and policies. To wit, it is highly doubtful that Cortes residents favored the Klahoose expansion of their shellfish operations into farming geoducks around Squirrel Cove (in fact, there was strong opposition to that).
In addition, as you yourself candidly admitted in your previous reports, there was not one single upland owner in Gorge Harbour who was in favor of the Regional District approving of the huge new shellfish lease applied for by the Klahoose Band for Gorge Harbour. This was established by fiat in an already overstocked bay with a closed basin severely suffering from an organic overload that is far too high (arguably created mostly by literally hundreds of tons of shellfish feces from the shellfish industry together with log dump detritus). Mussel rafts are especially renowned in the scientific literature for producing “dead zones” beneath the rafts. What happened to resident or environmental interests in this case? If the Klahoose Band had been promised a lease in the area, other arrangements could have been made, such as arranging the purchase of already established leases that have come up for sale—several of which have since gone derelict leaving huge amounts of debris on the shores.
Similarly, your executive decision (announced at the public meeting for shellfish applications in the Gorge) to the effect that machinery was allowed to be used for shellfish farming in Gorge Harbour (and at all AQ-2 zoned leases) lacked any consultation with stakeholders. Moreover, on careful reading of the bylaws, your decision seems to contradict the intention and the letter of the bylaws. In terms of policy, your position has the dire potential of serving as a warrant to turn Gorge Harbour into an industrial nightmare. Past Regional District boards recognized this and launched a legal suit against companies using machinery in the Gorge. However, at the public meeting, you dismissed these as undertaken for “political” reasons. Are the Regional Directors, previous bylaw officers, and the lawyers serving the Regional District all really that naïve? You stopped the RD’s legal suit on the grounds that it was politically motivated and unsupported by the bylaws, but this claim lacks any credulity.
In fact, if you look at the bylaws (as well as the spirit and intent of the original OCP for Cortes), you would see that:
1) “Any use not expressly permitted in this bylaw is prohibited in every zone and where a particular use is expressly permitted in one zone, such use is prohibited in every zone where it is not also expressly permitted.” (Bylaw 2455, Section 102).
2) According to Schedule A, Section 621:1-3 (Bylaw 2455), AQ-2 zoning has:
PERMITTED PRINCIPAL USE : Passive aquaculture;
PERMITTED ACCESSORY USES : Sorting, grading and storage facilities for passive aquaculture but no processing is permitted.
CONDITIONS OF USE: No structures excluding wharves shall extend more than 1.0 metres (3.28 feet) in height above the tidemark at any point in time except that one floating enclosed structure not exceeding 12.0 square metres (129.17 square feet) in floor area and not exceeding 3.5 metres (11.48 feet) in height is permitted as a structure for storage, sorting or grading.
In contrast to the “passive” aquaculture permitted in both AQ-1 and AQ-2 zones, “active” aquaculture is clearly mentioned as permissible in AQ-3 zones which one might reasonably expect to involve machinery. Since all AQ-1 (“passive aquaculture”) leases are beach leases where it is impractical to use machinery, one would expect AQ-2 (also “passive aquaculture”) leases to lack machinery as well. This was clearly spelled out in George Sirk’s proposed clarification of Aquaculture zones in 2002, where he made the intended non-motorized status of AQ-1 and AQ-2 zones explicit, whereas AQ-3 (“active aquaculture”) leases were explicitly recognized as permitting motorized operations. Even in common usage, “passive” aquaculture hardly conjures up images of machine driven operations. I would argue that the use of motor driven machines is inconsistent with any interpretation of “passive.” Rather, it seems that the intent of the “passive” term was to limit the scale of shellfish farming in areas with multiple stakeholders (such as boaters, fishers, recreationists, residents, marinas, restaurants, or others) like Gorge Harbour.
Ms. Anderson, with your policy of permitting machinery to be used on shellfish leases in the Gorge, you have contravened the letter and the intent of these bylaws, not to mention the interests of many Cortes residents, and virtually all the upland residents of the Gorge. You have opened up a Pandora’s box of industrialization that flies in the face of your self-pronounced care for the environment and the OCP. It is time to drop the sham that you are devoted to representing the wishes of your constituents, and admit that, you, too, make extremely poor decisions for your own ideological and political reasons, especially those favoring industrial-scale shellfish growers. It is you who have politically motivated policies. It seems okay for you to spare no effort to protect the forests, yet endorse the raping of the sea.