Friday, November 24, 2006



7 am - the beep of my alarm clock is drowned out by the piercing beep of several massive front end loaders backing up, their engines roar as they lift massive logs, their tires spinning in the mud. I listen to the Errington Cedar Mill, a full 500 meters away, as the giant wood chipper grinds into action. A loud noise similar to standing beside an old blender grinding nuts or a belt sander tearing into a piece of wood. Very loud, very grating on the nerves, with bursts of 1 to 2 minutes every 10 to 15 minutes between 7 am and 5 pm wee days and often on week-ends. Each time the chipper spins to a halt, it is drowned out by the constant drone of saws, edgers, and planers. Trucks honk, chain saws roar, and the log loaders continue to roar and beep incessantly.

Years of public consultation, during which countless residents voluntary dedicated their time and energy, resulted in the official community plan (OCP) for Area F, which was legally drawn up by the Regional District of Nanaimo in 1999. This document designates most of Errington as Rural/Residential with the “Village Centre” being the most densely populated as well as the cultural and social hub of activities since the early 1900s. However the RDN has allowed heavy commercial industry to grow unchecked in the heart of Errington. In fact industry is consuming the heart of this community.

I regularly meet fully loaded logging trucks on Grafton Avenue, which has no paved shoulder and is not designed for heavy commercial traffic. I can only imagine the choice left to a school bus driver when facing one of these massive logging trucks. The rural residential make-up of Errington means that Grafton is frequented by horses, cyclists, children, and parents with infants in strollers.

These logging trucks bypass the old Alberni highway, designed for commercial traffic, in order to dump their logs at a new dry land sort leased out by the Errington Cedar Mill. The logs are then reloaded and once again driven through the heart of this community seven days a week including holidays. Chip trucks, logging trucks, and loaded flatbeds all make a very wide turn at the Errington store taking up several lanes at this busy intersection, which most residents of Errington must drive through daily.
Officials at the RDN admit that no changes have been approved for the property yet the original zoning mentions only a single sawmill as the permitted principle use. Albert Orcutt started Errington Cedar Products with Brad Meeker, owner of Meeker Lumber Ltd. of Mission, B.C. Together they have been able to secure 5 million board feet of old growth Western Red Cedar and Yellow Cedar logs annually.

While attending Errington Elementary School my class took field trips to the 14 acre farm next door where we observed a large sow pig with a litter of tiny piglets, cows being milked, and other animals in the barnyard. The ALR allowed the land to be stripped of most of the topsoil, watched a massive mill be built, and much of the area to be paved. After all of this the ALR approved the removal of this property from farm status on the grounds that the property could no longer support a farm.

This summer all of the trees at the back of the property were removed, the soil piled up, and a new road pushed in along the property lines of several long time residential homes. Ditches were gouged out along Christian Road to increase the drainage away from the mill. The dust retardant promised by the Ministry of Transportation was never applied as fully loaded trucks roared up and down the new road, sometimes well into the night. Some arrangement has been made so that logs are being sorted and scaled in downtown Errington, surrounded by residential homes, at a new land sort.

Designated industrial zones allow for residential and environmental concerns to be addressed while providing industrial grade infrastructure, safe highway access, and better emergency response. An OCP is meant to be strictly monitored and enforced.

If you have concerns please contact RDN Community Planning (250) 954-3798 E-mail: and/or local MLA Scott Fraser Toll free: 1-866-870-4190 E-mail: and/or Ministry of Transportation Barbara Thomas (250) 751-3126 E-mail:

Friday, November 10, 2006



Many of the trails I frequently use to walk along the banks of Englishman River were flooded as I made my way along the swollen waters near Top Bridge municipal park. “The nose” was level with the roaring water, brown with silt from fresh logging cut-blocks up stream. The week before I stood on top of the same rock shelf and noted that I would not want to dive for fear of hitting the bottom because the water was so shallow. That means the water rose approximately 5 meters in about 2 days. What a difference a week-end can make!

After many months of drought the rain finally came on the same week-end when water was the focus of a Parksville Qualicum Water Conference entitled “Our Water, Our Future”, attended by more than 350 people at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. Opened by Qualicum Chief Kim Reculma-Clutesi, who welcomed everyone and encouraged people to come together to protect water, the importance of drinking water as a global and local issue was raised.

According to the leaders at Kyoto: “We are water warriors.” This is a human issue and only human beings can resolve the vast number of problems, most of which we have created. Act locally, think globally is an old catch phrase that is appropriate.

Severn Cullis-Suzuki pointed out that a litre of water can cost more than gas and produces a plastic container that is added to the 2.5 billion discarded every year. She suggested that using a personal reusable cup to drink coffee would help reduce the number of throw away cups which, if placed end to end, would circle the planet 7-8 times annually. 45,000 gallons of water are used to produce a single car. Cullis-Suzuki inspired the crowd with her stories of people from around the world coming together to protect the environment.

The largest aquifer on the planet lies under Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. When private corporations and government tried to privatize the drinking water in Uruguay, three million people protested. As a result the constitution was re-written after a 67% plebiscite to stop privatization and protect water. The constitutional amendment states:” Water is a human right.”

A statement from the UN indicated: “The wars of the 21st century will be fought over water!” Tony Clarke, Executive Director of the Polaris Institute, ended his speech with: “Water must never be completely controlled. Water must flow freely.”

Tofino councillor Michael Tilitzky explained that bylaws now make it mandatory to use dual flush toilets which use 3 litres per flush rather than the traditional 13.5 Why is this not a provincial law? Tofino is thinking beyond pipes and pumps by focusing on conservation as the solution to the problems of water shortages and increased demand on the limited drinking water supply.

Logging continues to effect local water by reducing the natural forest filters, eroding top soil, and reducing snow packs. Water flows without regard to boundaries yet is treated differently depending if it flows through private or public land. The ‘Private Forest Land Management Act is currently under review. This legislation establishes logging, road building, development, and other regulations for private land. Public input is needed. Voice your concerns to: BC Forest Minister Rich Coleman (250) 387-6240

Near the end of the workshop portion of the conference people came together to come up with positive tasks for people to work on to change the current status of water. Some of these included: Amending the Canadian Constitution to include “Drinking Water is a Human Right” This would create protection for water from the highest level and trickle down to every aspect of Canadian living. Lobby the local Health Authority to enforce water protection, particularly industry. Call for legislation to protect the water aquifers and ground water in this province.

Consensus was to hold a follow-up conference which will focus entirely on building solutions to the many issues facing water. Keep an eye out for information and checkout