To the Editor,
Like many in our community, I am concerned about protecting our water supply. Recently, Port Alberni City Council said that they will attempt to meet with Island Timberlands and the Ministry of Forests to discuss protecting a portion of the watershed.
The Watershed Forest Alliance has been lobbying for a number of years now to protect McLaughlin Ridge in the watershed. The sticking point here is that the watershed is presently in privately held lands.
The owner’s primary concern is to make profits for their shareholders and as it is private land they can pretty well operate as they please. The only recourse that the city has is after an event occurs that affects water quality—then the city would have to prove in a court of law that industrial activity was the cause.
It only makes sense that our watershed needs to be protected for now and future generations.
I see two options: The first would be to purchase that portion of the watershed from the city’s water intake to the headwaters. I don’t see this as viable as the city cannot afford it and I don’t think the province would fund it.
The other problem is that Island Timberlands would lose annual cut resulting in local forestry job loss.
The other better option is the one put forward by the late Glenn Wong and that is to lobby the provincial government to make a swap of Crown lands for the watershed and put the watershed under the direct control and protection of local government.
We, as a community need to come together and lobby vigorously to bring this about. It will take a concerted effort and will not happen overnight.