Hello, This Director’s Report has a wharves update, drought information, some info on a proposed groundwater extraction bylaw, and an event I was honoured to attend.

Wharves Initiative
The big news is that the proposed Wharves Service did not receive elector assent. The Board had sought approval for Bylaw 487 (Area C Wharves Service) through the Alternative Approval Process. There was a 242-signature requirement to prevent adoption without elector approval by referendum: 385 qualified Elector Assent forms were submitted.

Considering the demonstrated public sentiment on this issue, taking the matter to a referendum didn’t seem a particularly wise use of taxes in my opinion. My motion for a staff report on next steps and possible actions was supported by the Board on Wednesday August 16.

Every Drop Counts
The recent rain was lovely, and still we are experiencing “severe drought levels and unprecedented conditions” according to provincial officials. The East Vancouver Island watershed (which we are included in) is in a Level Five drought (highest rating possible). Stream flow is a measured indicator of drought, and the rainfall was not enough to shift measurements.

The provincial government has been holding weekly briefings for local government folks, sharing updates on drought and wildfire challenges and mitigation efforts. “Every drop counts”: people and businesses are asked to reduce the water they’re using as much as possible. In rural areas like ours the state of the aquifers our wells are connected to is unknown. I’m hopeful a silver lining to the drought could be more provincial attention on studying and understanding rural aquifers.

As we live through this drought, I imagine most islanders agree that water conservation is key as we move into an unstable climate future.

Groundwater extraction licenses are managed by the Province. Without a local bylaw in place to prohibit bulk water sales & water bottling, a community has no opportunity to weigh in on a provincially issued extraction license.

Groundwater Extraction Bylaw 510 is a bylaw I requested partly based on what has unfolded down the highway in Merville. One of the requests I made of the bylaw was that it focuses on commercial interests because the precarity of water access is real. I want to ensure that in a dry future, non-commercial support for our neighbours is possible.

If groundwater extraction for bulk sale or bottling is being contemplated in Area C, we deserve a public hearing: this is the impetus for Bylaw 510. Bylaw 510 will be discussed at an upcoming Electoral Area Services Committee meeting and sometime in the future at a Public Hearing.

What happened in Merville? The Comox Valley Regional District created a bylaw to prevent water bottling: bulk water sales wasn’t included. As a result, a provincial license holder is now legally extracting and selling up to 10,000 litres a day on their Merville property; this is considered a ‘home-based business’.

Yuquot celebration
In ‘summer-related’ news, I have much gratitude for being included in the Mowachaht-Muchalaht Nations’ 31st annual Summerfest, which this year was also a celebration of Yuquot’s centenary as a Canadian Site of Historic Significance.

Yuquot is the most important community of the Mowachaht-Muchalaht, the people of Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island’s west coast. This is where Captain James Cook made landfall in 1778 and named the location “Friendly Cove”. Yuquot is a spectacular and very special place and the trip from Gold River to Yuquot aboard the Uchuck III was beautiful. It was an honour to meet Chief Mike Maquinna and participate in the event.

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Congratulations to Discovery Islands Pride Society on their second annual event and a fun weekend celebrating a rainbow of diversity of our islands!

Reminder that Advisory Planning Commission applications are being accepted till September 6. See previous Reports or the APC Guide linked here for more info.

You’re welcome to connect with me with questions or concerns. Email RMawhinney@srd.ca, or call 250.203.2468.

Until next time,
Respectfully and sincerely,
Robyn Mawhinney

Photos this edition: forest at Morte Lake; sweet gale on a Morte Lake shore;
Maquinna family houseposts in the Yuquot church; Nootka lighthouse & Yuquot dock.