We can stop growth

Because of past growth, the citizens of Parksville will be asked if they are in favour of borrowing for a new water treatment plant

Re: ‘RDN stands with Parksville’, (The NEWS, July 15).

Because of past excessive growth, the citizens of Parksville will be asked through referendum if they are in favour of borrowing monies for a new water treatment plant, which we will have to pay back plus interest.

And Mike Donnelly from the RDN, makes the oft-repeated and technically incorrect statement, which seems to be a mantra of local governments: “People keep coming here and we can’t stop them so we have to do two things: prepare for those people coming to Vancouver Island and manage a water resource for the people who are already here.”

Well, here’s a few things to ponder:

• True, we can’t stop people from coming here, and we don’t want to. Living within limits is not a “we’re here now so pull up the drawbridge” scenario. If there are houses or other dwellings available for sale or rent, people are welcome to establish residency in our community. But if we wisely choose to set a limit on the number of people, and thus dwellings, according to what our regional ecosystems can support, and there are no dwellings for sale or rent. In other words, the region’s supporting ecosystems have reached their carrying capacity — we have no obligation to provide dwelling space for additional people who want to come here.

• The Parksville-Nanoose area has apparently found a limiting factor (water) and has likely already reached or exceeded its natural, regional carrying capacity. But we don’t know that because the RDN, of which Parksville is a part, hasn’t determined what our regional carrying capacity actually is, despite that being a criticism of the Regional Growth Strategy by many. Consider this: it wasn’t that long ago when local ecosystems provided us with abundant clean water at no cost.

• When I came to this area in 1975, the population of Parksville was less than 3,400 people. Since then we’ve been told continually that we need to grow to prevent our community from dying. Parksville now has about 12,000 people, over three-fold increase. But each time our population increases — along with our taxes, because population growth always costs the existing population more — the growth that occurs never seems to be enough. When will it be enough? When our community reaches the size of Nanaimo? Victoria? Vancouver?

• Will those of us currently living in Parksville get anything new for the increased taxes we’ll be paying? Will we get any more or any cleaner water from our taps than we already do? Seems folly for taxpayers to pay money to get essentially nothing they’re not already getting now.

Perhaps it’s too late and we do need this new water treatment plant; VIHA thinks we do. But this seems to be simply one more example of uneconomic growth. Addicted to growth, we fail to notice that the growth our communities have experienced over the past 60 years has not ended the problems it claims to solve. As a result, there is not one community on Vancouver Island that is truly sustainable. Perhaps it’s time we took a collective look at what real sustainability means and begin improving rather than degrading our quality of life.

Neil Dawe

Parksville

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