We have lived in Gorge Harbor for two years and on Cortes for many more. We have neighbors who have been here much longer than we. Neither my family nor any of my neighbors support Klahoose Band’s application to place ninety mechanized rafts in Gorge harbor. Parties supporting the change of zoning applied for were Klahoose Band themselves, oyster farmers who will now be allowed to mechanize their rafts, and those who feared deflecting attention from another matter: Island Timberlands.
After reviewing the minutes of the hearing http://srdws.strathconard.ca/Agenda_minutes/SRDBoard/BRD/19-Jan-12/20120116_Reardon-Board_Report_Bylaw-No_-121.pdf
. We can only conclude that the matter was decided long before the hearing was held. Let’s call it what it was: a decision lacking courage, insight, or the best interests of the community Noba Anderson was elected to serve. It was politically expedient, and nothing more. The minutes make it clear that the quality of life of Gorge Harbor residents was of no consideration whatsoever.
Where and when was it decided that Gorge Harbor was expendable? Certainly not on January 14th, where no concrete benefits of the change in bylaws were expressed, though Klahoose Band was given ample opportunity to do so. When asked directly what the benefits to the Cortes community might be, Kathy Francis, to her credit, was refreshingly honest. She said she didn’t care at all about the greater Cortes community, felt no need to explain nor justify this motion, and that there would be no jobs for the greater Cortes community. This was strictly in the interest of Klahoose Band. And though the rafts are, literally, outside our house, we were given no information as to who the “limited partnership” consists of.
The proverbial elephant in the room is an inconvenient truth that Klahoose Band was given preferential treatment over the best interests of Gorge Harbor residents because they are Klahoose Band. What it comes down to is a kind of unspoken reverse racism. If it’s Klahoose Band, the reasoning goes, as First Nations, they hold the moral high ground, “Stewards of the land”, etc. This is quite simply a cash grab under the guise of “Economic Development.”
In 2002, an application to change the zoning bylaws was denied. By 2010, the Strathcona Regional District had announced it would not receive any further applications for changes in these bylaws. Subsequently, and without explanation, an exception was made for the Klahoose Band’s application.
Why do we receive personal emails from Noba containing updates regarding IT initiatives while no one informed us about the results of this hearing? To find out, we had to access a sidebar on Tidelines. How is the preservation of our land any more important than the preservation of our waters? To read that the vote on this matter was “unanimous” is not only shocking, but not reflective of the tone, tenor, nor substance of of the hearing. In her letter to the community, Noba acknowledges that the opponents of this change in bylaws were “Most if not all of the residents of Gorge Harbor.” Why were the concerns of these residents not addressed?
By strategically coupling this issue with that of Island Timberlands, Noba is implying that the one sacrifice justifies resistance on the other. We did not agree to sacrifice our home for the benefit of those opposed to IT. Where and when was it decided that only one of these causes was worth fighting for? The issue regarding IT is one of raw uninhabited land. The issue regarding Gorge Harbor is residential as well as commercial. A decision has been made that benefits industrializing Gorge Harbor at the expense of its residents. The Cortes Official Community Plan states, ““Commercial development is supported, but if anywhere, it is on Cortes that economic development is tempered by societal and environmental values. Large development projects are discouraged, as is significant industrial growth.” The OCP also states that, “Nature is respected and the community is the steward of the land.” Or is this now up for grabs?
Richard Jacobs and Terri Storey