Too Bad Union Bay Improvement District Trustees Refused to Take Actions to Protect Our Watershed in 2016 – Cumberland is Smarter

One of the first meetings of the new Union Bay Improvement District Board in Nov. 2016, Trustee Susanna Kaljur made a statement about the importance of protecting our watershed. Well, if you’ve watched any of the gong show meetings, you’ll see Chair Jacques shut down that thought pretty damn quick. This is the post from Nov. 13, 2016.

Cumberland sending message to province about watershed

The Village of Cumberland has already been working on protecting its watershed with partners from the area.

Now, council wants to get the message to the province about the unique situation for watersheds on the east side of Vancouver Island.

Manager of parks and recreation Kevin McPhedran informed council at the Feb. 14 meeting about the BC Watershed Security Strategy and Fund discussion paper and the opportunity for the village to engage with the province.

“We wanted to put this forward to council now,” he said.

The province announced a commitment to the idea in November 2020 and launched a public engagement process on Jan. 25. It is taking feedback until March 18.

The strategy will likely include elements such as universal safe drinking water; healthy and resilient ecosystems; sufficient water for food security, jobs and local economies, recreation and First Nations; and reduced risks from hazards such as flooding or drought.

Members of council were quick to point out the unique situation for land in this area and also expressed hope the community would be able to buy back more of its watershed.

“We are unique here, surrounded by private-managed forest land,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said.

While the province had not always recognized this relationship, she added, the new provincial strategy was a sign it was responding to communities.

“I think it is an indication that they’re starting to listen and hopefully starting to support some of these grassroots initiatives,” she said.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland looks to protect Perseverance Creek watershed

Last October, council endorsed a plan to move discussion around local plans for the Perseverance Watershed Initiative (PWI) into the public realm in a lead-up to specific land acquisition discussions or negotiations. In addition to the Village of Cumberland, this process has included partners such as Mosaic Forest Management, the Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS) and K’ómoks First Nation.

At the latest meeting, council passed a motion to have village staff prepare a written submission for the provincial strategy. As part of this, council is asking that the unique context of eastern Vancouver Island be considered for the strategy and that reference be made to the PWI’s innovative approach toward local watershed security.

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