EDITORIAL: Strait of Georgia will be the top newsmaker in 2014

The body of water off Parksville Qualicum Beach is the focus of many ongoing stories

We expect the Strait of Georgia will be the top newsmaker of 2014, both locally and throughout the province.

One could argue the health and welfare of our ocean should be the top news item every year, but there are actions and discussion expected this year that will bring particular attention to the waters off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island.

The big picture is highlighted by Kinder Morgan’s application filed only a few weeks ago to triple the flow of oil through its Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to the B.C. coast. Estimates suggest this could mean a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic around our Island. The separate Enbridge Northern Gateway Project was given the thumbs up (albeit with 209 required conditions) by the federal joint review panel, also last month, for major expansion of Kitimat’s terminal to handle more oil.

We have stated here previously we find it difficult to believe we, as a human race, have not better developed energy alternatives to oil. However, we remain dependent on it, both for products in our everyday life and for many thousands of high-paying jobs. That is to say the notion of stopping oilsands production, pipelines and tanker traffic is not realistic until reliable, safer, affordable alternatives are widely available.

Closer to home, Parksville’s plans for the Englishman River’s water will undoubtedly have an impact on the waters off our coast. Meanwhile, 2014 is a critical year for Qualicum Beach to set up the future of its waterfront, and the town has committed money and brought in a highly-respected company (SNC Lavalin) to work on matters related to erosion and future use of the beach.

Travelling further up Island, seaweed harvesting off Bowser and Deep Bay will continue to be a hotly-contested issue, and who knows if the Raven Coal project will resurface, a plan some say would be devastating to the local shellfish industry.

Yes, the waters off our coast from Nanoose Bay to Deep Bay will get a lot of attention this year, and rightly so.

— Editorial by John Harding

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