Former sawmill site in Courtenay valuable, but not to industry

Dear editor,

Project Watershed’s proposal for the Field Sawmill site and the estuary in your Nov. 21 issue is timely.

Dear editor,

Project Watershed’s proposal for the Field Sawmill site and the estuary in your Nov. 21 issue is timely.

The Field Sawmill site is virtually adjacent to Area B and a vital and important part of future flooding and high-tide storm surges. Flooding and water know no boundaries and the metal cladding that shapes the Courtenay River mouth into a canal exacerbates storm surges and causes flooding on the west side of the river.

Project Watershed’s proposal is a vital part to protecting Courtenay’s and Area B’s homes and businesses.

There were times before the war and in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s that our estuary was a sewage dump (where the civil airport now operates) and it was surrounded by a wide variety of industry.

Vast acres of the estuary were used to store logs and their bark sank to the bottom and destroyed the vegetation and the all-important eelgrass. Ship repairs, fuel storage, building supplies and cement works operated without care or concern along the estuary shores, the hydro dam and over fishing destroyed the fish industry and much more.

Except for the hydro dam, they are all gone now; no lumber storage, no cement works, no fishing and 99 per cent of the industry is gone. We have an opportunity here.

Times have changed and we must change with the times.

We have climate change, ocean rise and storm surges that threaten our estuary and adjacent roads and businesses. We have an opportunity to do what has been done on the Thames in England, the Columbia in Oregon and many other places around the world.

We can revitalize our estuary and bring it back to its original state of health. We can mitigate storm surges by planting eelgrass, developing soft-shore protection and allowing the Tsolum River to find its original path to the sea which was through the dyked farmland.

We should allow the sea access under Dyke Road with a causeway so that high-tide storm surges will dissipate naturally. All of this could be done over years without the expense of creating hard-sided dykes.

There seems to be a belief that the Field Sawmill site is valuable. It is, if it is reverted back to nature.

However, there is very little valuable land on that site which will house buildings. It was valuable when the Field Sawmill was churning out high-grade lumber and providing good-paying jobs.

But, someone way off in a head office of an international company decided it was not making them enough money and closed it without local consultation.

A sawmill was built on that site when there were no rules and regulations with regard to riparian areas, flood plains and the environment. It would have to meet and exceed all new environmental regulations today.

It sits on a floodplain and it is a narrow neck of land with low-flying civilian aircraft flying over it.

It makes no sense to develop this land. If we do, it will exacerbate more flooding and devastate the properties across from it on the west side of the river.

The best thing to do is to give Project Watershed’s concept some serious consideration and to weave a plan for the estuary in concert with the K’ómoks Band and the K’ómoks Estuary Management Plan as soon as possible.

We, as residents and citizens of the Comox Valley, have to change with the times or suffer the consequences of more storm surges, sea rise and costly floods to our community.

Let’s support Project Watershed’s proposal and encourage the mayor and council of Courtenay to give it serious consideration.

Jim Gillis

Editor’s note: Jim Gillis is the Comox Valley Regional District’s Area B director.

 

Just Posted

Charles Hawkswell, Commander, of the Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron, presents a $1,000 cheque to the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society. File photo
Comox removing moorage fees, hydro for Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society

Last year, the unit and society responded to more than 50 rescue missions in the past year

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident north of Courtenay nets almost 10-year sentence

Richard Daniel Vigneault was arrested without incident and faced 16 counts

Danielle Egilson has been awarded a $40,000 post-secondary scholarship with The Cmolik Foundation. Photo supplied
Student from Courtenay’s Vanier Secondary lands prestigious scholarship

Cmolik Foundation provides opportunities for youth who’ve experienced adversity

Poverty is a sad reality for some people in the Comox Valley. Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Project takes a hard look at poverty in the Comox Valley

Objective is to reduce poverty in the Comox Valley by 25 per cent over four years

Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a general pathologist at the North Island Hospital Campbell River Hospital Medical Laboratory, spoke about the issue of service in the region at a meeting in February 2020. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona hospital board wants pathology service back

Board supports move for chair, vice-chair to engage with Island Health on issue

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

Tagen Marshall of Parksville is looking to raise funds for a new specialized van. (Submitted photo)
Wolf: Parksville’s Tagen Marshall inspires others, aims to invest in himself

VIU honour student with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy seeks help achieving big dreams

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Most Read