Tree Solidarity Deja Vu

T”Although Channel Ridge, with its plan to build 405 village units in the north end, will be the biggest Gulf Islands development to date, environmentalists have been relatively quiet about the clear cutting and other impacts on the ecology in the area.”

April 23, 2015

I know, I know, people have to live somewhere (unless they travel around gypsy-style, like I do — but that’s another story). This winter, though, where I spent two months house sitting near Kelowna, brought something home to me.

I walked many times up a country road with a view of Okanagan Lake and the city way down there. Just above was a wired fenced grassy meadow where a herd of about a dozen mule deer, wagged their ears at me in between tearing chunks of grass out of the earth with their teeth.

It was bitter-sweet because I could  see based on the several rows of units down below and the carpenters working on several more, that by next winter that country road will be flanked, not with deer, but with houses and duplexes.   Walkers will have more uniform houses and less meadow to meander by.

Here is an article on this subject that I wrote in 2004:

Salt Spring Village Views

May 21, 2004

Tree Solidarity Deja Vu

by Tanya Lester

Environmental activist David Shebib has moved his bus onto Channel Ridge property.

Over four years ago, when Shebib parked his bus on Texada property in the south end, his actions signaled the beginning of an anti-clear cutting protest like no other protest ever experienced on Salt Spring Island.

It included the establishment of camps near logging sites, protesters chained to logging trucks, townhall meeting after townhall meeting, women posint nude for a fundraising calendar to raise money to buy Texada land, negotiations with the provincial and federal governments to establish a conservation park, “Lady Godiva” riding a horse through Vancouver streets in protest, street theatre at a conference sponsored by Texada financial backers, a protester busting into a Toronto shareholders’ meeting for the same financial backer and so on and so forth infinitum.

Although Channel Ridge, with its plan to build 405 village units in the north end, will be the biggest Gulf Islands development to date, environmentalists have been relatively quiet about the clear cutting and impacts on the ecology in the area.

The most notable difference between the Texada situation and that of Channel Ridge is the number of trees being clear cut. Loggers for Texada could have removed 2,500 acres while only 60 acres are expected to be removed for the Channel Ridge village.

Peter Lamb of the Salt Spring Conservancy believes the developers have adhere to their promise to leave a tree buffer around the wetlands area near the village site. However, the developers may want to build a road across the wetlands area.

He is also concerned that loggers have cut closer to the Garry oaks meadows north of the village than had been indicated to the Conservancy.

Thhe e Conservancy will hire a biologist to research Garry oak meadows and other vegetation this summer. The Garry oaks in the Channel Ridge area will be an important part of the research done in this stewardship program , said Lamb. It is an endangered species.

Both Lamb and Islands Trust regional planner John Gauld said Channel Ridge has cut down fewer trees than was initially planned. A fire a few weeks ago prompted a ban on burning in the area until there is more rainfall.

The latest round of revisions for Channel Ridge development plans were received by Islands Trust in mid-April. Gauld said the Trust’s Advisory Design Panel is expected to comment on them within the next week. Local trustees will invite community participation in  the proposal before a development permit is issued.

Epic Central is the public relations firm for Channel Ridge. Its website states that the corporation does “much more than traditional public relations.”

It says, “Our venture becomes a positive community effort, minimizing controversy or unpredictable (and  costly) damage control efforts… We employ a strategic ,  multi-level outreach program  that pro-actively influences the public, provides factual data for the media,  and maintains regular contact with elected officials and government staff.”

This,  too, is very different from  Texada. It did not use a public relations firm.

Epic Central is associated with West Edmonton Mall.#

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