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General News · 25th January 2017
Brian Hayden
The Regional District recently posted comments on Frequently Asked Questions concerning the Cortes zoning bylaw revisions currently underway.  Some of these comments are misleading, especially concerning the aquaculture bylaws and they should be rectified. 
 
In particular, #25 states that: "According to legal advice attained by the SRD, powered equipment/machinery may be used as part of carrying out permitted uses, that is the sorting, and grading activities and storage,” as in the Aquaculture 2 zone. This may have been the advice that was sought by the Regional District under the guidance of Noba Anderson, but is at variance with the previous lawsuit (and presumably advice) undertaken in 2009 by the Regional District to remove the powered machinery in Gorge Harbour as a contravention of its Aquaculture 2 bylaw.  It would seem that sometimes the Regional District can pick and choose their legal advice according to the interests of the regional directors.

In addition, while “generators” are permitted under the terms of “active aquaculture,” (Aquaculture 3), they are not mentioned as part of “passive aquaculture,”(i.e., for Aquaculture 2) and according to the bylaws, “Any use not expressly permitted in this bylaw is prohibited in every zone, and where a use is expressly permitted in one zone, such use is prohibited in every zone where it is not also expressly permitted.” (Section 102.1).  There is no zone for active aquaculture in Gorge Harbour.

The argument that machinery on barges cannot be controlled since vessels are a federal jurisdiction is equally flawed. The AQ zones govern activities. The media by which they are delivered is irrelevant. The city of Vancouver does not abdicate its enforcement of prohibitions against prostitution near schools because johns arrive in vehicles that are Provincially regulated. The RD may not be able to regulate the physical characteristics of vessels, but it can regulate what activities occur within designated AQ zones.

Also, while there may be one mention in the Official Community Plan of a goal to “support a local viable shellfish aquaculture industry” on Cortes, there are multiple times where the OCP enshrines residents' rights to a comfortable, rural lifestyle (Sections 301,302,303a,304.4a,415.2k[i-v],415.3.1c,602.13).  This is also the explicit goal of the zoning bylaws (Section 102).

The emphasis in the OCP (Section 304.4d) is on viable small-scale economic developments, not on large industrial operations such as Island Timberlines and Island Sea Farms. Large-scale industrial operations are incompatible with the Cortes Official Community Plan and the life-style that Cortesians have tried to embody in their OCP.  Yet, the Regional Director has endorsed the use of industrial-scale machinery in Gorge Harbour despite OCP principles which state that any economic developments should be compatible with surrounding areas, should limit noise disturbance, and avoid conflicts with other businesses. These concerns seem to be completely ignored by the current Director for Cortes Island.  Both she and ISF seem bent on paving the water paradise on Cortes to put up a parking lot of shellfish rafts.

What should take precedence, the interests of large-scale off island industries or interests of the residents of Cortes Island that are supposed to be enshrined in the OCP and the bylaws?  As Anderson herself has acknowledged in print, virtually none of the residents around Gorge Harbour were in favour of the expanded, mechanized shellfish operations that she promoted and upheld in 2012 with her approval of the mechanized shellfish operation in the east end of the Gorge. Jobs are always important but job creation is a bottomless pit to try to fill. There are never enough. Do we want to turn Cortes into an industrial center for the sake of creating more jobs? Not according to the OCP. Moreover, there are other suitable locations for big noisy industry besides recreational and residential areas like Gorge Harbour where AQ2 passive aquaculture has been designated for deepwater shellfish farming since 1970.  There was never supposed to be any machinery at all used in aquaculture operations in residential/recreational areas.