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General News · 2nd September 2018
Brian Hayden
A moment's reflection should make it evident that the goal of creating zoning bylaws and regulations is to spatially separate incompatible activities such as large industry versus residential or recreational uses. Proposed Bylaw 309 fails miserably in this regard since it is worded so as to "remove prohibitions of powered equipment in aquaculture zones" (i.e., all aquaculture zones) including areas immediately adjacent to residential and recreational zones, most notably in Gorge Harbour, but also including AQ 1 and 3 zones in other parts of the island where mechanical clam harvesters and high pressure water pumps could be used. The prospect of unbridled industrial shellfish mechanization on Cortes Island is a nightmare scenario akin to having industrial gravel pits open up in front of one's home. There are no constraints on machinery size, noise, hours of operation, or anything else. Attempts to create agreements to limit noise in the past have been dismal failures. In contrast to placing industrial-scale machinery in front of residences, this kind of "farming" should be relegated to locations of minimal conflict (such as the ones that Island Sea Farms already uses on Read Island). Small-scale more compatible operations can be left in their current locations.

The Regional District, with Cortes representation from Noba Anderson, has hidden from its responsibilities by claiming that the Right to Farm legislation takes control out of the Regional District's hands. This has never been tested in court, even during SRD's suit against Island Sea Farms, and is manifestly not the case with aquaculture since there has never been a complaint brought before the Farm Industry Review Board, although a complaint is now pending. Moreover, the Regional District could easily challenge any large industrial operations in conflict with residents on the basis of the terms of shellfish leases which prohibit lessees from creating nuisances for people adjoining leased areas.

If the proposed bylaws are to conform to the Cortes Official Community Plan, then they must curtail the use of powered machinery by aquaculture operations near residentially and recreationally zoned areas. The OCP (past and present) enshrines:

Goals: "to preserve the rural quality of the area while protecting its ecological integrity.” (see Sections 301, 302, 303a, 304.4a, 415.2k(i-v), 415.3.1c, 602.13)

Policies: “Water Resource Areas: Policy 7.4 Appropriate forms of water based development may be permitted in the planning area’s coastal areas where it can be demonstrated that such activity will not negatively affect presently occurring economic activities or adversely affect the scenic and environmental qualities of the Island and its foreshore resources.”

The Cortes OCP states that small-scale economic development should be tempered by societal and environmental values. Developments should be "suitably sited" so that they do not disrupt the area's rural character or are otherwise inappropriate. Siting should not interfere with other uses, should avoid locations in front of residences or marine operations, limit noise disturbance, avoid conflicts with other businesses, and be compatible with surrounding areas (see Sections 301, 303a, 304.2c, 304.2e, 304.4a, 304.4d, 415, 415.2k(i-iv). "Protection of residential values must be maintained" (415). The entire tenor of the OCP would seem to exclude large-scale industrial developments, but that is what the proposed bylaws would allow by permitting machinery in AQ 1,2 & 3 zones.

These are also the goals of the current zoning bylaws as stated in the preamble to the bylaws (Section 102) which states:

"It is the intention of the Cortes Island Zoning Bylaw to reflect in simple day-to-day rules, the character of the Cortes Official Community Plan, 1995 and in so doing, provide for a fair, spacious and comfortable life in a rural environment.

The objectives of the Cortes Official Community Plan, 1995 include... maintenance of the rural character of the Island... Regulation is intended to support the health, safety and welfare of Island residents"

Unwanted and aggravating noise is a major adverse factor in the health and welfare of residents and the proposed setbacks of 100 meters for AQ 2 zones are totally inadequate given the ability of noise to travel over water under many conditions. A setback of 1 kilometer (the same as used for finfish farms with industrial machinery) should be established.

It is not surprising that under the directorship of Noba Anderson, the existing bylaw vision as expressed above has disappeared from the proposed new bylaws, or that the proposed new bylaws are being ramrodded through with a mere 10 days warning for any public review or opportunity for discussion--and this at a time when many people are away and will not return until after Labour Day (the day before submissions will be cut off). Residents and Board Members should strenuously object to such high-handed tactics. And why has the existing vision been discarded if not to facilitate the operations of big aquaculture industries?

I suggest that the omitted vision of the existing bylaws, as expressed above, should be re-instated in any new bylaws and that powered machinery should be eliminated from AQ 1,2 & 3 zones as originally intended by the existing bylaws and the 1995 OCP. The wording of the new bylaws displays a total disrespect for the wishes and wellbeing of the residents of Gorge Harbour as well as the potential future wellbeing of anyone living or working adjacent to an aquaculturally zoned area. It displays a total abnegation of responsibility for averting incompatible activities between areas in close proximity and does nothing to alleviate conflicts of interests and activities between residents and off-island large industries that have invaded our residential and recreational areas.

I regret that I will not be able to present my views at the scheduled hearing, however, I have pre-existing professional obligations on that day.
Comment by Ian. Ross on 5th September 2018
As someone who has worked on Cortes in the shellfish industry and, as well, purchased a home here because of that work, I feel I need to respond to Mr. Hayden’s continual opposition to the people working in the Gorge.
Firstly, Mr. Hayden bought a piece of waterfront in the precise middle of where Cortes aquaculture is most highly concentrated. If one wanted the tranquil rural luxury of a waterfront home, there seems to me to be so many better choices. This is, after all, an island. It’s literally surrounded by water.
And then, to further aggravate his own situation, Mr. Hayden clear cut the trees on his land. I remember the property back when it was Dunc Robertson’s land and it was heavily forested. Look at it now from the water and it looks like a rock quarry.
And then, and finally, Mr. Hayden wants everyone working in the Gorge to be placed someplace else. This is what the colonial whites did to the natives back in our own recent past. Came in, took the land, cut the trees, and put the locals on reserves.
Doesn’t seem right to me. Just saying.
Didn't want to wade into this again, but since you insist...
Comment by Richard Lawton on 3rd September 2018
Relocated to where?

The available shoreline outside the Gorge (mostly at the north end of the island) that is currently zoned for aquaculture is all but abandoned and unusable because of steep rock slope with nowhere to locate outer anchors, and onshore storm winds.

And I repeat, that somewhere between an outright, idealistic ban and irresponsible excess, lies a harmonious, workable solution.

We won't find it until we have stopped demonizing people.
Jobs are not the issue
Comment by Brian Hayden on 3rd September 2018
No jobs need to be lost, Richard, just relocated. And if you are really concerned about jobs, how about allowing Island Timberline back to harvest trees? You see where this will lead? The argument about jobs can be a bottomless industrialized pit.
you views an still be heard
Comment by Patricia L on 2nd September 2018
Make sure that you submit this information to the SRD before Sept. 5th or have someone take the written form to the meeting. It can be done by email as well.
Yes... but foot too heavy on the gas pedal...
Comment by Richard Lawton on 2nd September 2018
While not wishing to wade into the aquaculture debate again, Brian, your conclusions are valid ... but only when viewed in isolation.

Viewed from the other direction, viable earnings necessitate more than just manual labour for a host of economic and very practical reasons.

Somewhere in the middle between an idealistic outright ban and irresponsible excess, lies a harmonious, workable solution ... and we seem to have missed it again!

I do agree with one paragraph though, that I'll repeat here (because re-reading things helps the meaning sink in):

"It is not surprising ... that the existing bylaw vision as expressed above has disappeared from the proposed new bylaws, or that the proposed new bylaws are being ramrodded through with a mere 10 days warning for any public review or opportunity for discussion--and this at a time when many people are away and will not return until after Labour Day (the day before submissions will be cut off). Residents and Board Members should strenuously object to such high-handed tactics."