Save Booth Canal - Alcyonenews

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Islands Trust
Posted July 12, 2019

Save Booth Canal -
We have no “tomorrows”, there are no mañanas left ...

The December 14, 2018 Marketplace column was: “To Protect and Preserve v. to   Malign and Destroy” –  It was an appeal to the Trust to stop an attempt to acquire crown land for commercial aquaculture. The subject land is 1.5 km of Saltspring Island intertidal zone  including part of Booth Canal and the shore Northward therefrom. I suggested the Trust put a halt to it, so as to protect the island from industrialization, as per its mandate.  The Trust and the press  fell silent threough the intervening six months since, creating  the impression that the attempt was abandoned. But it was not.

It has resurfaced, a tad amended to create the impression that the peoples’ concerns were accommodated. But at issue was not how this  aquaculture was to be carried out, at issue is the protection of the seashore from invasive industrialization.

Protecting and preserving the seashore is much more fundamental than preventing the proliferation of Magic Lake Estates which sired the Trust.  Certainly we did not endure the Trust for half a century since to now usher in aquaculture onto us. It is imperative that  the Trust understand that its role is not to set the level of seashore destruction, that its duty is to avert destruction altogether. That is what it exists for.

I have put in many years observing the Canal and seeing this beautiful amenity of our island sliding to its demise. In the decade since 2009, I have made more than  50 submissions to the Trust, responded to with stonewalling and much worse. I have drafted a book on this  “knowingly and willingly perpetrated” environmental crime.

But enough of that, for now we have no time to point fingers. We  are at  a cross road and must answer the Calico Cat question,“NOW”.  Now, for we have no mañanas left - it is now or never.  We must rise and rush to do what needs be done to save Booth Canal and that stretch of prime Island seashore.

The scientific assessment of the matter is done and is  irrefutable. The solution is simple and that is to avert the shedding of the foreshore and the Canal to aquaculture. I speak authoritatively  on this matter, having practiced in the pertinent fields of Engineering for long years, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island,  West to East and the Yukon to the North.

Refusing the aquafarm application would not cause human starvation. If it need be, shellfish aquaculture could be done in a  remote location, certainly better than in the proximity of septic tanks. There are plenty of such locations. Just as there are better ways to  generate electricity than burning coal in the Burrard Inlet ... Ain’t  we ever to learn?

The Canal was set on the slippery slope to its demise in the early seventies by the erection of a big and ugly Groyne in its mouth. Its purpose was  the amenity of barbequing hotdogs and sipping suds in the middle of the Canal for guests of the  “Booth Bay Resort”. The Groyne changed the tidal hydraulics of the Canal with the attendant messing up of  the sediment economy and worse. The proposed Aquafarm will make impossible the restoration of the Canal.

Among the host of undesirable aspects of the proposed aquafarm is the “legitimization” of the erroneously “land-surveyed-away” of the crown land on which the Groyne stands to the “Strata”, successor to the Booth Bay Resort. Another is the   fortification of resistance to removing the Groyne if and after a new situation develops around it. This would render restoration of Booth Canal a pipe dream and would force society to grin and bear the ditch-itazation of the Canal. No “Petitcodiac miracle” for us if the Trust falters again.

I will refer again to a model showing the benefits that would accrue to us if the Groyne is removed from the Canal. This is the Moncton Causeway in New Brunswick. I was personally involved with its construction in 1957-58, and became thrilled to bits with its demolition now.  Its replacement is a $68M bridge and the recovery of the Petitcodiac has already been heralded as “spectacular” and worth every penny. The Causeway reality is an indisputable “second opinion” supporting fully my work on the Canal.

In the final analysis, the fate of the Canal is in our hands. Because Democracy is our system of Governance we must use it because if we do not use it, we will lose it ... Let’s do what is expected from us, let’s ensure the Trust honours its mandate.

By the way, I will gladly take the the LTC for a touristy trip to existing shellfish farms on Vancouver Island. It could be educational ...

Wishing for reason to prevail so that I can re-write a happy ending to my book on Booth Canal.

Dr A. N. T. Varzeliotis, P.Eng. (Ret’d)

Copies to: P. Luckham (; P. Grove ( ; L. Patrick ( ; G. Holman ( ; A. Olsen ( ); E. May (
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