General News · 16th June 2014
June 16, 2014
Dear Cortes Islanders,
This is a summary of my letter to the Strathcona Regional Board written in support of purchasing and establishing a regional district park at the Whaletown Commons.
Cortes Islanders have written eloquently about the many reasons to establish a Whaletown Commons Park. In addition to these reasons, I would like to address the outstanding educational opportunities that are offered in the Whaletown Commons.
As a teacher and outdoor educator of youth for 20 years on Cortes, I can say that the Whaletown Commons provides the perfect place to take children for learning. It is very central (contrary to what has been said about it not being central), and accessible. It is a 15-20 minute drive from Manson’s Landing with parking off the road in the pullout. Within 15 minutes of easy walking for youngsters (even kindergarten age), children can be looking at old-growth maples & cedar and walking along a creek and riparian zone. Equally good access to the north entrance of the Whaletown Commons is also possible. There is no other forestland and watershed on Cortes which offers this ease of accessibility and richness of educational opportunity.
The Whaletown Creek is the largest watershed in the Whaletown area. There are blue-listed cutthroat trout throughout the Whaletown Creek and spawning chum salmon in the lower reaches of the creek. A complete watershed can be easily walked from its beginnings to where it empties into the ocean. Ruth Ozeki met me once with haikus that she wrote, read and gave to the children, prior to the students writing their own haikus. On at least 2 occasions, school groups released salmon fry into the creek after raising them from salmon eggs at school. Another group of students completed a barefoot mapping project that became part of a Cortes Museum display.
What is the likelihood of any of these enriching experiences happening in the future if the park is not established, and the alternative of harvesting and development takes place?
I would also like to ask Cortes Islanders what they truly value? Can you see beyond the ebbs & flows of daily living - tight economic times and uncertainty, ferry & credit union issues, community politics which will always be present, but shift over time? Our Cortes home is our forest and ocean environment. I believe that we all need our forests and oceans to be healthy and vibrant as a source of strength, peace, and resilience for our community and ourselves as we face rapid change and uncertainty.
Please come to the meeting on June 17 (Gorge Hall, 7:00 pm) hosted by the Strathcona Regional District, and voice your support for the Whaletown Commons Park. This is one time where your ideas will be listened to and directly influence a local decision (unlike BC Ferries and the Coastal Credit Union), AND this will be the last opportunity to save the Whaletown Commons before the Strathcona Regional Board vote.
Surely, this is the best legacy that we can give future generations and the Cortes community!
teacher & mother