Merville water bottling issue returns to the CVRD, highlights provincial water policies

Merville water bottling issue returns to the CVRD, highlights provincial water policies

The Merville issue is about land use but draws attention to outdated provincial water policies

Merville water bottling issue returns to the CVRD, highlights provincial water policies


The long-awaited rain finally began to fall on Vancouver Island this week, but it’s the drought that extended from summer through fall that has geologists, water system managers and homeowners who depend on wells worried about our groundwater supplies.

The driest fall in decades shut down the BC Hydro power generator on the Puntledge River for the first time in more than a half-century. Mt. Washington aquifers were so depleted, the resort asked skiers not to bathe and bring their own drinking water.

All around the world, and particularly in the American southwest, water shortages have reached dire levels. And that will ultimately concern Comox Valley residents when California and Mexico can no longer supply us with abundant fruits and vegetables.

If this trend continues – and an irreversible climate change insures that it will – we will need Island farmers to fill that gap, which in turn means a higher demand for groundwater supplies by local agriculture.

What this all adds up to is that water for drinking and growing food are destined to become the center of controversial public policy. Who has access? How will water supplies be rationed equitably?

That debate will take center stage at Monday’s meeting (Jan. 9, 2023) of the Electoral Services Commission when regional directors consider an amended application for a water bottling and distribution operation in Merville.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) – now known as Land Water and Resource Stewardship (LWS) – issued a conditional water license nearly five years ago to Christopher Scott MacKenzie and Reugla Heynck. The license permitted the couple to extract up to 10,000 litres of groundwater per day on their Sackville Road property.

The license required the couple to “make beneficial use of the license” by Dec. 31, 2020. But when the Comox Valley Regional District denied a rezoning application to vary existing land use regulations, it stopped the couple’s original business plan.

Bruce Gibbons, the founder of the Merville Water Guardians that opposes this groundwater extraction, learned last April that LWS had received an application to amend the couple’s water license. The ministry referred the application for an amendment to the Comox Valley Regional District to determine if the amended purpose of the license would now meet existing bylaw and zoning requirements.

Neither the LWS nor the CVRD has disclosed the details of the application for amendment. But sources within the regional district say the issue will be on the agenda for the Jan. 9 Electoral Areas Service Commission (EASC), which would normally be released on Friday, Jan. 6 before the meeting.

Our sources also say that the regional district staff has passed the application to amend the water license on to the K’omoks First Nation and other affected groups, and also that the Merville Water Guardians will make a presentation at the same meeting.

The extent of the regional district’s authority in this issue is limited to its land use regulations. Does the proposed amended use meet current zoning laws? It cannot rule based on the larger issue of protecting groundwater supplies or other universal water issues.

MacKenzie is perfectly within his rights to pursue the use of the water license he was given by the provincial government.

That said, some serious questions should be asked of the LWS ministry why an application to amend his license was accepted and why his license remains valid nearly two years after not complying with the major condition of his original license.

And given the acceleration of climate change causing water crises all over the world, doesn’t it seem prudent, even urgent for our provincial government to put a moratorium on issuing any new groundwater extraction licenses and to suspend the licenses that haven’t been activated?

Knowing the difficult political and ethical discussions looming over provincial water policies, the government must initiate a full-scale review of our approach to water that reflects our new reality. To do otherwise will open a deluge of trouble.


There are numerous citizen action groups focused on water, including the Canadian Freshwater Alliance, which has supported the work of the Merville Water Guardians. There is also the Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition. Here’s a link to some others.










Compared to today, five times as much land is likely to be under “extreme drought” by 2050.

Unless measures are taken, California will demand three times more groundwater than can be supplied over the next 100 years.

By 2035, the world’s energy consumption will increase by 35 percent, which in turn will increase water use by 15 percent according to the International Energy Agency.

In 2050 increased population will result in a 19% increase in agricultural water consumption.

Water demand is projected to grow by 55 percent by 2050 (including a 400-percent rise in manufacturing water demand).

According to satellite images, the Colorado River Basin has lost about 65 cubic kilometers (15.6 cubic miles) of water from 2004 to 2013. This is twice the amount stored in Lake Mead.

For decades the Ogallala Aquifer in the United States, one of the world’s largest aquifers, has tapped at rates thousands of times greater than it is being restored.

Over the past 40 years the world’s population has doubled and use of water has quadrupled.

According to the U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment of Global Water Security, by 2030 humanity’s “annual global water requirements” will exceed “current sustainable water supplies” by 40%.

By the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today.



Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.


Comox Valley local government elections ramping up for Oct. 15 vote

Comox Valley voters will elect new councilors, mayors, regional district representatives, school board members and Island Trust reps on Oct. 15. Find out who’s running for what … and why. Decafnation returns to shine more light on local government issues and candidates

The Meaning of Life: Five notable Vancouver Islanders reflect on their life’s journey

The Meaning of Life: Five notable Vancouver Islanders reflect on their life’s journey

The Meaning of Life: Five notable Vancouver Islanders reflect on their life’s journey


THE LAST WEEK before the start of a new year. It’s a time when people often reflect on their lives and make resolutions for the 12 months ahead. But as we look around at how differently other people have used and are using their lives – for an extreme example, Vladimir Putin versus Terry Fox – we sometimes wonder how best to use our own lives and what lessons we’ve learned as we travel this mysterious journey.

Decafnation starts a new tradition this year by asking selected Vancouver Island people to share their acquired knowledge that didn’t come from book-learning or academic studies. We begin today with the collective wisdom of five notable Vancouver Islanders rooted in the Comox Valley.

Read their interesting and varied stories here.


Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

The tooth fairy is only human

My daughter lost her first tooth playing outside on a late summer evening. Minutes later, I lost my parental halo after throwing the tooth fairy under the bus.

Lawn mowing, part 1: don’t run over the kids hiding in your lawn

While doing some seriously complicated scientific research on the most ergonomic entry and exit of the common household hammock, I came upon a startling statistic: more men are injured while mowing lawns each year than those who sit around and drink beer. In fact,...

Was Mother Earth Goddess drunk?

Today we celebrate the spring equinox, the beginning of a new astrological year, a time when hope and creativity soar and our hearts beat to the rhythm of the Earth’s renewal. And we just pray to the Mother Earth Goddess that it doesn’t fucking snow again. Because...

I’m really sick

I’m writing today’s column from The Office of Medical Terror, otherwise known as my bedroom. I’m doing this because a monster truck of influenza ran over me, then backed up and ran over me again, and afterwards dumped a load of pneumonia on me. The truck also hit my...

Is the genuine apology a forgotten or endangered species?

When civility in modern public discourse declines, it attempts to drag other forms of decent human interaction into the murky abyss of lost social conventions. The genuine apology, for example, teeters dangerously close to collateral damage. In the Trump world, you...

If we Vote-By-Google this spring, the Green Party would win

When people start suggesting that highly paid writers such as myself – rumored to be in the high single digits! – start writing about British Columbia’s spring provincial election campaign, we do what any other sane person would do: hide under our desks until those...

The Christmas fudge arrived with a resounding thud

It landed on our doorstep with a resounding thud. It measured about the size of a thick hardcover novel. It weighed more than 100 copies of “War and Peace” bound together. But all there was to read was a simple card, which said, predictably, “To my brother. Love, your...

The Week: Give us full transparency when paid ‘volunteers’ work with CV students

The Week: Give us full transparency when paid ‘volunteers’ work with CV students

The Week: Give us full transparency when paid ‘volunteers’ work with CV students


No doubt Comox Valley school administrators are bustling during this last week of classes before the Christmas-New Years’ holiday break to determine if Youth For Christ volunteers have been praying with students in district schools and how widespread it might have become.

Since we broke the story last week that a Youth For Christ (YFC) volunteer has been concluding his open gym time for Cumberland Grade 8 and 9 students with a prayer session, according to parents of children in that school, questions have arisen about how long this might have been going on and why so many school district administrators looked the other way?

Youth For Christ paid employees have “worked” as volunteers in Comox Valley schools since the 1990s, according to SD71 Board of Education Chair Michele Waite. And former Board Chair Sheila McDonnell also told us that she had been aware of the program occurring with the principal’s agreement and “on the basis of them (YFC) working in a team with groups of children, not one-on-one, no reference to religions, no prayers, etc.”

It seems likely now, given that parents have blown the whistle on YFC leading prayers in Cumberland, that other YFC employees could have done the same in other schools over the past nearly 30 years. It’s also possible this one YFC worker was a renegade. And maybe the district review will conclude that no prayer sessions ever took place and parents raised a stink based on bad intel, though that seems unlikely.

But the problem with using paid volunteers – surely an oxymoron – at all is that they have an employer to whom they are more indebted than to the schools where they volunteer. In this case, that means their underlying mission is the ministry of seeing “these students come to know and love Christ, to experience the resurrection life that He has for His children.” To quote one YFC worker.

A faith-based group could certainly play an important role in supporting our schools, the educators and the students. But the parameters of any faith-based volunteer have to be clear and closely monitored because religious teaching of any kind is prohibited by law in public schools, and the opportunity for proselytizing is tempting.

As former SD71 School trustee Cliff Boldt wrote in a comment to last week’s story, school principals must be held to account for what occurs on their watch. Who else is going to monitor these activities in each school? Well, of course, parents should and, in Cumberland, they did.

Perhaps at the top of the list of mistakes in this matter has been the lack of transparency by school administrators and the Youth For Christ organization.

The YFC workers are not volunteers. They are paid employees of a Christian ministry and their job is to interact with young people. They should be clearly identified as such so students and parents can decide whether it’s appropriate to interact with them.

There should be written agreements for any faith-based group that clearly prohibits religious stories, discussions or practices in conversations or activities inside the schools without written permission from the parents, who have been fully notified.

BC Law requires all schools and provincial schools to be “conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles.” And that “the highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or provincial school.”

Somehow now, Comox Valley school administrators must assure parents that their children will not be exposed to religious proselytizing and that the district can be trusted to monitor volunteers who might be tempted to circumvent this law.


It’s a bitch, isn’t it, when climate change comes right up and slaps you in the face? “Hey, buddy, I’m real and I’m here. My name is Drought.”

The driest fall in more than half a century has shut down the BC Hydro power generating plant on the Puntledge River and it’s also turned off the taps up at Mt Washington. The ski area’s tough water restrictions reflect the severity of our drought and also warn us about the future.

It has long been forecasted that Vancouver Island’s glaciers will disappear within the next two decades and that the declining snowpack will intensify and stretch our summer droughts, which are now extending into winter.

So it’s up to every Comox Valley resident, not just the skiers on the hill, to conserve water. Install low-volume toilets. Flush when necessary. Don’t leave taps open. Plant drought-tolerate species. Is it too late to add recycling wastewater for agriculture, golf courses and parks to the regional sewerage system?

One thing we know for sure about our water resources is that, in the long run, they’re not going to get any better than they are today.

YAY – A breakthrough in nuclear fusion is coming. According to the New York Times, Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced yesterday that they have “successfully used lasers to achieve nuclear fusion whose output exceeded the input from the lasers.” This verifies the potential of nuclear fusion as a future energy source, which will be a game-changer in our fight against climate change. But its practical use is still a long way from being harnessed for broad consumption.

BOO – To those who go about things in the wrong way. SIMBA Investments’ Shawn Vincent and Russell Tibbles basically berated Town of Comox staff at last week’s council meeting for not giving them what they wanted, when they wanted it. And then, doubling down on his Not-The-Nice-Guy Act, Vincent referred to Mayor Nicole Minions by her first name instead of showing the respect for her title that she deserves during a formal council meeting. But then, Vincent was there to tell the council that he is suing the town, so it really couldn’t have gone much better.

YAY — For another two years without auto insurance rate hikes. The NDP government plans to freeze ICBC rates for another 24 months. That will make five years in a row. Switching to the “no-fault” insurance model last year, which eliminated lawyers from the system, has helped keep costs down. And that’s good news for all of us shaking our heads over $7 for a head of lettuce. 





Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

What’s dire: the lack of Comox subdivisions or climate change and gradual deforestation?

What’s dire: the lack of Comox subdivisions or climate change and gradual deforestation?

“This land is an ecosystem, with worth just because it exists.”

What’s dire: the lack of Comox subdivisions or climate change and gradual deforestation?



Look, I’m not into otherizing and demonizing people. Call me naïve, but I think most people are trying to do the right thing in life, based on their own particular way of looking at the world.

It’s human nature to assume, “The way I see things is the way things really are.” But it’s all a question of perspective.

Take a simplistic example: 18 acres of forest. One set of people will see it as “undeveloped.” To them, it’s an opportunity waiting to be grabbed: some empty, unused land that they can turn into a nice neighbourhood with nice homes where a bunch of nice people will live. In the process, they’ll provide income for themselves, their employees, and many different tradespeople, retailers, and other people in the business of real estate.

Seen through the lens of a developer, we should waste no time developing this valuable asset.

Another set of people sees these 18 acres as a critical part of the fight against climate change. Intact forests and mature trees improve air quality, reduce energy costs, sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water cleanliness, and increase property values. This land is an ecosystem, with worth just because it exists. It’s home to many species of animals, plants and other organisms. It belongs to the community.

Seen through the lens of the climate crisis, we should make every effort to safeguard this valuable asset



On December 7, Comox Council heard from developer Shawn Vincent of Simba Investments and his associate Russ Tibbles. They’re wondering what the holdup is with Simba’s most recent PLR subdivision application for an 18-acre parcel of land on Pritchard Road near Cambridge Road in Comox.

Tibbles said, “The situation is dire.” He said Simba has put in three applications so far and has been waiting for a reply since February 2022 on the third one. The developer is now taking the town to court.

Vincent explained that he was “not here to create friction; we’re trying to follow all the rules, and it’s not happening.” He mentioned several others who have also waited a very long time to replace portions of the woods in Northeast Comox with roads and buildings: Rob Leighton, Bill Toews, Chris Gage and Brian McLean. Vincent said, “We just want to do business.”

It was presented as a simple enough request. But development in 2022 should not be business as usual. When Tibbles said, “The situation is dire,” he was talking about the lack of response to Simba’s application. He seems unaware that the truly dire situation is climate change. We can’t avoid it: we’re in a climate emergency. And it literally gets worse with every new subdivision that goes in where a forest or other natural area used to be.

A particular concern of Russ Tibbles’ was the access trail through the development. Apparently, the town has asked for a 20-metre right-of-way for the trail, and this is a major sticking point. This, said Tibbles, would make the right-of-way the same width as Noel Avenue.

I’ve got to be honest here: that seems a pitifully small green space, compared to the amount of forest that Simba is planning to knock down. Again, perspective. Another way to look at it: 18 acres is 72,843.4 square metres, so a 20-metre strip of greenery doesn’t seem like a terribly huge amount to ask for.

But from Tibbles’ perspective: “It serves no purpose! It wastes valuable residential land…increases the cost of housing, decreases affordability…” and, by forcing Simba to drop another two lots, it adds another $700,000 to the cost of the remaining lots.

Wait, what? Just how much are these properties going to cost, when the lots are that expensive?! We’re clearly not talking about housing that’s affordable in any sense of the word.

So now we’re taking down a forest to build single-family homes that only a tiny percentage of people will be able to afford? And how many homes are we talking about? Forty-eight homes, at last count (the first PLR was for 64 homes). But I digress.



At the end of the council meeting, Joanne McKechnie of Save Our Forests Team Comox Valley presented Council with almost 400 signatures from citizens asking for stronger protections for Comox’s trees.

Her comment: “The 2011 OCP was approved at a time when the global climate crisis was not quite as dire as it is today. The zoning for development of forested parcels of land in the 2011 OCP no longer reflects what is best to preserve the environment in our community, nor does it reflect the best interests of the community.”

Shawn Vincent wrapped up his pitch by saying, “The conversation tonight is about 20 metres, but it’s not just about that… It’s about how we do business together and right now, it’s not great.”

Interestingly, I agree with him on this point. Just for completely different reasons.

Jen Groundwater is a professional editor and writer and a Comox resident.






Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

Questions raised about prayer in schools, SD71 puts hold on faith-based volunteers

Questions raised about prayer in schools, SD71 puts hold on faith-based volunteers

Questions raised about prayer in schools, SD71 puts hold on faith-based volunteers


Comox Valley schools, like most schools across Canada, rely on community volunteers for non-educational activities, which allows educators to devote more time to teaching.

But the question of who monitors the activities of these volunteers to ensure they are not reaching beyond the limits of the district’s policies and procedures surfaced this week in School District 71.

Parents of children in the Cumberland Community School wrote to the school board and district administrators this week raising concerns about the activities of representatives of the Comox Valley chapter of Youth For Christ. The parents say the Youth For Christ (YFC) representatives are holding prayer sessions for Grade 8 and Grade 9 students.

In response to the Dec. 6 letter, the board and the district administration have put a hold on any further public volunteers in schools connected to faith-based groups, such as YFC, until the district can do a review to determine the next steps with the issue.

Provincial legislation prohibits religious teaching in schools.

Comox Valley School Board Chair Michelle Waite told Decafnation that the district already has several administrative procedures in place relating to this issue and that the existing procedures will also be reviewed as a result of the letter.

It is the Board of Education that sets policy while the Superintendent creates administrative procedures about how schools are to implement or follow specific board policies.

But it is the school principal that decides who from the community is allowed to interact with students and who monitors their activities to ensure they are compliant with all policies and procedures, including the BC Human Rights Code and the BC School Act.

Waite said the review will determine what has been taking place, including if there have been any prayer-type activities,

“We have heard the parents and this review will ascertain the facts. We have put a hold on YFC and other similar groups out of caution and good practice. Once we have all the information, we can decide how to move forward,” Waite said.

In addition to the two parents who wrote the letter, the school’s Parent Advisory Council has been concerned about YFC activities and raised the issue in October with the school’s principal, Erica Black, who dismissed their concerns, according to our sources.



In their letter, parents Elisabeth Lee and Troy Therrien (a newly elected Cumberland Village council member) say that Youth For Christ representatives are working with students at the Cumberland Community School. And that work includes a drop-in sports time for Grade 8 and Grade 9 students on Fridays during recess that concludes with a prayer session.

The parents say this is inappropriate because it violates the School Act, infringes on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and “contravenes SD71 board policies 17 and 24, among others.”

Lee and Therrien also say “the lack of transparency around this issue has been problematic.”

Students, their parents and families, have not been made aware that the YFC volunteer is associated with Youth For Christ or that there will be a prayer session, they say. And that school announcements about the open gym time only use the acronym YFC and do not define what YFC stands for.

There is also a concern that the YFC representative gained access to the school as a “volunteer” but who is actually a community youth worker employed by Youth Unlimited YFC Comox Valley.



Board Chair Waite says that volunteers from YFC have been active in Comox Valley schools since the early 1990s. But “up until now, no one has complained about their activities to the board.”

According to its website, YFC is “a Christian faith-based, not-for-profit organization that primarily engages with youth ages 10-20. Our experienced staff is deeply committed and caring. We support youth through contextualized youth programs and intentional relationships. We passionately believe in the potential of each young person with whom we interact, and are dedicated to providing opportunities for them to lead what Jesus calls “lives to the full.”

Youth For Christ/Youth Unlimited is an international, non-denominational Christian youth organization. There are 36 Chartered and five Affiliate Chapters in Canada, with 300 ministry sites and 900 different programs, according to their website.

They publish a “Weekly Ministry Schedule” that lists activities at Glacier View Alternative School, Highland Secondary, Lake Trail Middle School and Cumberland Community School.

In its recent newsletter, YFC Youth Work Elena Harper wrote, “I’m so encouraged that as a team here at YFC we get to play a large role in the introduction of the gospel to these students and we get to steward and foster those relationships. The Holy Spirit is filling hearts, places, homes and schools this season.”



According to sources close to Comox Valley parent groups, people became aware of Youth For Christ activities when Anita DeVries ran unsuccessfully for a school trustee position in the October elections. DeVries campaigned by handing out anti-SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identification) propaganda leaflets in front of Lake Trail and Courtenay Elementary schools.

Voters and parents started looking at DeVries and discovered her relationship with YFC. From there, parents realized that a family farm used for school district field trips was donating part of its admission fees to YFC and now most school groups have switched to a different farm.

Our sources say that YFC alleged online that they were feeding kids lunches in local schools, which was news to Parent Advisory Councils.

Tensions began to rise at the Cumberland PAC, according to our sources, because when they brought up concerns about YFC on multiple occasions to Principal Black, she dismissed them as not a problem. It appeared to some, our sources say, that the youth workers’ affiliation with YFC was being hidden.

“It is even more troubling when students (and families) have not had the opportunity for informed consent around participation in these activities,” Lee and Therrien wrote in their Dec. 6 letter.



With only a week left before schools break for the December holiday season, not much is likely to happen until the new year.

Board Chair Waite told Decafnation that there is no timeline set to conclude the review, but she says the issue “is on the top of mind for the district, a priority, now that it has been raised.”

In the meantime, the ban on faith-based “volunteers” in district schools will remain in place.










According to BC’s School Act, 76 (1) All schools and Provincial schools must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles. (2) The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school.

All of B.C.’s schools’ Codes of Conduct are required to reference BC Human Rights Code as it supersedes everything.

SD 71 Administrative Procedure 207 Conduct Related to Secular and Non-Sectarian Principles

SD 71 Administrative Procedure 153 External Organization Access to Students

SD 71 Administrative Procedure 550 Use of School Facilities

SD 71 Administrative Procedure 490 Volunteers in School Districts

All SD71 policies can be found here


Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.


How one former educator views new technology in schools

By Brent Reid While teaching journalism and information technology for several years in a networked computer environment with Internet and email access at every workstation, I learned a lot about how to use powerful, but potentially distracting, electronic devices to...

Smartphones in schools: a distraction or an enhancement?

Parents and educators face a new challenge in today’s schools: the pervasiveness of smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. Are they disruptive to student learning or an enhancement? Do they increase student safety or provide a new weapon for bullies? The...

The Week: Ken Grant fined by Elections BC and Parksville confronted by development, water issues

The Week: Ken Grant fined by Elections BC and Parksville confronted by development, water issues

The Week: Ken Grant fined by Elections BC and Parksville confronted by development, water issues


This week, we learned that another candidate for the Comox Town Council was fined for misdeeds under the Election Act and Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, that Alberta wants to give the finger to Ottawa and Ontario wants to neuter municipal governments and that some people in Parksville are worried about an 800-unit housing development along the Englishman River. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.

Elections BC, the provincial election watchdog, has fined Comox Councillor Ken Grant for using lawn signs that lacked a complete authorization statement. While the violation would not have likely misled readers of the sign and stickers were used to correct the omissions, Director of Investigations Adam Barnes nevertheless spanked Grant for being a careless numbskull.

He didn’t actually say it like that. Here’s what Barnes said, “You have participated in 6 local government elections as a candidate, and should be aware of the election advertising requirements.”

New Councillor Steve Blacklock was fined earlier this year for a violation of the Campaign Financing Act during his unsuccessful run in the town’s byelection last year.

Neither councillor committed a major crime, but the public expects their council members to pay attention to the rules and details. A similar approach to council business could result in woefully wrong decision-making or expose taxpayers to unnecessary financial liabilities.

After reading our comment about record low water levels in the Puntledge River, a representative of the Greig Greenway Society in Parksville contacted us about similar concerns for the Englishman River.

Waterfront Properties, a bare trustee for the PCI Group, a Vancouver developer, wants to build an 800-unit subdivision on 140 acres of forested land along the river and within a fragile ecosystem. The land at 1465 Greig Road is part of the Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem and borders on the salmon-bearing Englishman River.

At first glance, this sounds a lot like the subdivision proposed by 3L Developments for the triangle of land between the Puntledge and Browns rivers in the Comox Valley. And, in fact, urban sprawl is one similar concern of the Parksville society because grocery stores, schools and other services are more than three kilometers away from where the housing would be built.

But the preponderance of issues in Parksville are different and mostly relate to the city’s low water supply in Arrowsmith Lake and its inability even now to meet the provincial requirements for water levels in the river necessary to sustain salmon habitat.

A retired Nanaimo Regional District engineer has told the Parksville council that the city hasn’t been able to meet the provincial water flow target during the summer months since the Arrowsmith Lake dam opened in 1999.

The society worries that the additional 56 million liters of water necessary to serve 800 new households during the dry months of June through October would stress the city’s drinking water supply and the river’s marine life to unsustainable levels. Further, because the trees, shrubs and grasses that cover the Greig property now capture rainwater and filter it through the soil to the Englishman River aquifer, clearing the land and replacing nature with concrete curbs and gutters would rob even more water for household use.

The society has also pointed out to the city council that the development is proposed for a floodplain, fragments a wildlife corridor and, while the development is primarily a mixture of multi-family housing, it does not include affordable housing below market rates.

A key question for the Parksville council is that if the city’s water supply isn’t sufficient to meet current provincial regulations, how will it provide water for such a large development? Will they need to dam additional lakes? Impose California-style water restrictions during the summer months?

We don’t usually report on issues outside the Comox Valley, but water supply problems are on a non-stop train headed toward every BC community – indeed, everywhere around the world.

BOO – Alberta Premier Danielle Smith wants to unfriend the rest of Canada but retain the benefits. The province’s new sovereignty legislation would allow Smith and her cabinet to choose what federal rules and regulations to follow and ignore the rest. Oh, she still wants Alberta’s share of every Canadian’s federal income taxes, but when Ottawa slows her party’s imposition of the conservative agenda, she will instruct provincial entities, like Crown Corporations, to break those federal laws. Sounds like a dictatorship. Sounds unconstitutional.

BOO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford has implemented his own coup to overthrow democratically elected local governments. The province plans to dictate permitted land uses, densities and building heights to municipal governments, in effect taking over local zoning and removing municipal authority over its planning process. Imagine if Victoria issued permits for 14-story condo buildings in the Comox Valley and disregarded the wishes of local residents. Couldn’t happen in BC … could it?

YAY — At least we don’t live in Indonesia where the government has adopted a new criminal code banning sexual relations except within marriage and prohibitions against insulting the president or the national identity. All the new crimes carry mandatory prison sentences. You might want to cancel that trip to Bali. 

Thought du jour
“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.”
– Henrik Ibsen






Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.