Protecting the Environment Protects the Economy

There is public support for making environmentally friendly decisions that sustain the livability of our area

We have been blessed with natural ecosystems that have supported humans with abundance and a sustainable economy for thousands of years. The scientific community refers to healthy functioning ecosystems as “ecosystem services.” Ecosystem services are the goods and services that humans and other living organisms receive from intact functioning watersheds. Watersheds contain healthy functioning forests, wetlands, rivers, streams, estuaries, and shorelines, that remain healthy and functioning, but only if they have not been degraded due to landscape alterations from unsustainable human economic development. As an example, here in Parksville Qualicum Beach, now in less than 200 years, we find ourselves in the position of the city putting forward a plan for taxpayers to pay millions of dollars for an artificial aquifer and water treatment plant, services that were once received at little or no cost. The natural ecosystems that we depend upon to sustain us may be outside of our jurisdictions, but they hold huge importance for what occurs within our boundaries. Cathedral Grove/MacMillan Park is an asset outside our boundaries that has generated wealth for our community to this day, in many different ways. This economic benefit would not have been possible without the foresight of many citizens, going back as far as 1901 with Dr. James Fletcher, Entomologist and Biologist, who stood up and spoke out for the preservation of Cathedral Grove. It took that foresight, generations of volunteer environmental stewards, the political will of Premier Hart and his government, and the cooperation of a reasonable corporate citizen, H. R. MacMillan. The naturally functioning mature Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem, in which we live, is now a rare and endangered ecosystem, with only 1 % remaining and very little of that, if any, is protected. Since the foresight of early days, today some try to convince us that we can’t stop growth, with an aim to drain more wetlands, to increase demand on a finite water supply, to degrade remaining natural landscapes, to continue to build more infrastructure and roads at public expense, and to exploit any resource, some of which have remained untouched until recently. The seaweed harvest from Deep Bay shorelines is a prime example. We could really use some new foresight from elected officials that takes into account carrying capacity and climate change impacts and what we must do right now to be able to adapt to those changes. We need new foresight to acknowledge nature’s limits to absorb an ever-increasing amount of human produced waste and toxic pollution, as well as take into consideration taxpayers limitations to constantly be funding remediation and restoration. There is enormous public support for making environmentally friendly decisions that sustain the livability of our area. Protecting the environment protects the economy. It is what is in everyone’s best interest.

Ronda Murdock

Parksville

 

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