EDITORIAL: Invest in safety

Governments at all levels need to re-shuffle money to increase the amount of people who keep animals and humans safe on land and at sea

There’s a family of cougars living in semi-

urban Nanoose Bay.

A wolf is attacking family pets in Qualicum Beach.

The coast guard saved an orca tangled in a crab-pot line off Columbia Beach.

Unsafe interaction between humans and wild animals is likely to increase and it’s time people and governments paid more attention to causes and effects of this increased interaction.

Long before humans walked the beaches and forest trails of this region — even before First Nations people — this land and sea were the domain of wildlife. We have encroached on their homes, not the other way around.

It’s unlikely we, as communities, will contract. We continue to either spread into the wild, or alter the wilder regions, forcing the animals toward our homes.

The answer is not to stop all development or bring in the bulldozers to rip apart well-established subdivisions on the edges of our towns and communities. Establishing a population limit for towns and cities — shutting the gates — is non-democratic and sounds more like something done in a totalitarian regime.

We are not going to stop these unsafe interactions. We can, however, do more to prepare for, and react to them.

The first step, from our perspective, is a re-allocation of our tax dollars. We need more, not fewer, Canadian Coast Guard staff and vessels. We need more, not fewer, conservation officers. We need more, not fewer, Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff.

This does not mean higher taxes. If the provincial and federal governments would like some help finding the money for these positions, give us about two hours with the budgets of various ministries — we will find the money.

While we agree government doesn’t have to take care of everything, we do believe people are OK with their tax dollars being spent on public safety, which include police, fire, paramedics and, yes, the coast guard, conservation service and DFO. This time of increasing interaction is not a time for decreasing service.

Of all the possible federal election issues that could come to light in this region in the next six months, we believe the safety of humans and animals on land and at sea should be the main focus of both electors and politicians.

— Editorial by John Harding

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