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LETTER - Destroying land to save habitat is a contradiction in terms


Dear editor,

According to the attractively presented information tablets placed along the trails of the Millard-Piercy Watershed in Courtenay, the area encompasses “13 square kilometres and about 55 kilometres of water courses” and is described as “fish-bearing habitats that provide good conditions for coho, chum and pink salmon, as well as cutthroat and rainbow trout in some areas of the watershed.”

Most importantly, we are informed that “the Millard-Piercy Watershed Stewards are working with environmental experts, biologists, developers and local government to restore, preserve and improve the habitat.”

This is wonderful news except that to do this, it seems, a healthy tract of watershed forest has been torn down to facilitate the improvements. How can this be?

How can clearing a tract of land off Ronson Road become part of the “restored and improved” habitat for fish and wildlife? In reality, it will become yet another tentacle of urbanization. Furthermore, how much more of the forest must be destroyed before the development is completed? The Canadian Government has vowed to plant two billion trees over the next decade, but will these seedlings compensate for the loss of millions of mature trees being harvested each year?

The need for housing is ever present as seen by the growth of the unhoused population, many of whom have complex needs. In Courtenay, there are hundreds of new rental apartments and condos being built. This is excellent news, but will a certain percentage be assigned as affordable housing and for the unhoused?

In closing, I admit to Mea Culpa. We live in an area that was cleared of trees prior to our home being built. However, given the importance of the watershed and the unrelenting effects of climate change, I believe that the time has come for all levels of government to seriously examine how and where we choose to build next and whether in clearing the land, certain trees or tracts can and should be preserved. Most importantly, is there any way we can provide more housing using existing infrastructure while maintaining our beautiful forests and watersheds?

Gwyneth Pickering,