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Passionate pleas about seaweed harvest at Regional District of Nanaimo meeting

At a standing-room-only RDN board meeting Tuesday night, three passionate delegations addressed Bowser/Deep Bay's seaweed harvest, calling for board members to put a stop to the harvest — or at the very least, to lend a helping hand.

One of the delegates, Len Walker, actually beat a drum he brought to the meeting in an effort to make his point.

"Why isn't anybody listening?," Walker asked the board, beaming with frustration and emotion. "We need to stop the destruction of our beaches."

Walker suggested the Regional District of Nanaimo "extend a conservation area" similar to that of Moorecroft Beach to include the five-kilometre stretch currently being used for the seaweed harvest.

"For $2,000 you can protect the beaches in Bowser," said Walker, who urged staff "to take responsibility for protecting the Riparian areas of Bowser."

Walker went on to demand political representation from the RDN.

"You must, by law, represent us," Walker said. "And our beaches in Bowser are being destroyed."

RDN director Bill Veenhof, who represents Deep Bay and Bowser, was the first board member to respond to Walker.

Veenhof said part of the reason nobody is listening, "is because you're addressing the questions to the wrong people."

Veenhof said he confirmed with staff that RDN has no authority over the issue. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, he said.

However, Veenhof did make it clear that he supports his constituents and offered a motion that was carried unanimously. The motion directs staff to review riparian regulations and authorities to determine if the RDN can influence the seaweed harvest; to review potential opportunities to call the shoreline from Deep Bay to Qualicum Bay some form of environmentally protected area; and to determine if there are any other opportunities to fight against the seaweed harvest.

Additionally, alternate director Leanne Salter, who represents Hilliers, Coombs and Errington, requested RDN send a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture stating the RDN’s support for Bowser residents in their fight against the seaweed harvest. Salter’s motion was also carried.

• Salter said a board decision Tuesday night to further investigate laws surrounding dogs harassing livestock is “only the beginning of addressing gaps in the legislation.”

“This isn’t just an issue affecting our area,” said Salter. “It’s an issue all around B.C. and I would even say Canada.”

The board unanimously passed a motion to review a bylaw to include consideration of options to minimize the impact of trespass by at-large dogs on farms with livestock; and that staff be directed to investigate and bring back a report on amending RDN animal control bylaws to include provisions for classifying and regulating nuisance to livestock dogs and the compensation to parties as a result of the actions of dangerous or nuisance dogs; and that the board send a letter to the Minister of Agriculture asking that the Livestock Act be amended so as to better protect livestock from nuisance dogs.

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