Editor's Note: We were not overjoyed with Minister Heyman's response to our requests. The letter below is this response to all Ministers concerned.
Dear Minister Heyman and Others,
Thank you for your lengthy response to our two requests for timelines to our April 10th presentation where we asked for four pieces from the government to be enacted or fixed. Our first request was made on May 10th, 2018 and the second request was made on June 12th, 2018. We then went to MLA Krog to see if he could try and obtain response for us, which he did in September. Below are our four requests for timelines for each request:
1. Establish the legislative and regulatory framework to empower local governance of community drinking watersheds through the full implementation of the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) and its Regulations.
2. Amend the necessary forestry acts (The Forest Act, The Forest Planning and Practices Regulation, Forest and Range Practices Act, and the Private Managed Forest Land Act) to improve standards of practice and oversight. Forest harvesting and management standards in watersheds that supply community drinking water must be raised to ensure quality and quantity (supply) for future use, within the context of climate change.
3. Establish a Community Drinking Watershed Investment Fund for the purchase of Private Managed Forest Land Act (PFL), in community drinking watersheds on Vancouver Island. In addition, preserve and protect Crown Land within existing Vancouver Island TFL’s.
4. Amend the Mines Act to restrict mining activity in community drinking watersheds to ensure protection of source drinking water and the environment as the highest purpose.
I am going to attempt to deal with your letter in the order we wrote to you as noted above and your responses.
To begin with, we see no timelines for implementation of any of our requests and we must say...this is highly disturbing and we wonder why, given the scorching heat of our summers, the communities that are without water and the extreme wild fires throughout our province...all for the second year in a row and small communities being taxed to death to pay for Water Treatment Facilities. Can you tell us why there are no timelines?
Secondly...we were very clear when we presented in April that the lack of regulations within the Water Sustainability Act were a huge impediment to ensuring quality and quantity of water in our Drinking Watersheds. Our most pressing request was for the Governance of our drinking watersheds to be turned over to the communities...regardless whether they were on Crown Land or PRIVATE Land. Along with the Governance Model, we must have funding provided by government to ensure the work that is being done is the very best. Without funding, governance plans falter and fail. There is no mention of any of this within your letter. Why?
There have been projects set up for a number of years...yet here we still sit with logging going on in our drinking watersheds unabated...destroying the environment for everything that live in these areas as well as destroying the water sources themselves. Your letter specifically deals with Crown Lands...and although this is an issue for us as well, you and all other Ministries involved knew we were there on behalf of Vancouver Island. You also know that most if not all of our watersheds on the Island from Victoria North and West are on private lands.. so while Crown land legislation is a problem, the Private Land legislation is an even larger problem..which brings us to our next point;
You can have the very best Water Sustainability Act in the world......BUT...as long as the Forestry Acts...all of them....and the Mining Act remain as they are, they all supersede any efforts a Water Act may want to cover. Is this understood by all involved?
The only place you have addressed the Forestry issues is in the Professional Reliance section of your letter and we are sorry to say, this is not good enough. The Forestry Acts...again all of them, including and most specifically the Private Managed Forest Act must be amended to give WATER the precedence it must have. We are asking that you and your peers relook at this piece please and provide some kind of timeline for response.
WATER IS LIFE for everything on this earth and if not given a higher precedent in your work, we as humans are surely doomed. You have Governors and mayors from the USA writing to this government to stop the logging and yet..it continues in our province unabated. Why is there no response to our Forest Acts requests?
A very major issue for our group is the fact that industrial activity of any kind is even allowed within our drinking watersheds! Your section in your letter on Mining, clearly states our worst fears..yet no remedies are provided. AMEND THE ACT so that mining shall not occur in our drinking watersheds! THIS is the only solution in our view.
On the Professional Reliance matter.......the changes that have been recommended are long overdue! When will the recommendations be implemented?
Engaging Indigenous Nations - When will the framework you refer to in your letter come into fruitation? Where is the testing on this framework being conducted?
We have attempted to cover the major questions your letter has raised for us. Our concerns, like the logging, go unabated and really do require more answers from all of you who have been sent this e-mail.Our questions, for the most part, have been bolded for your convenience in response.
Hopefully we will not have to wait another five months for response.
I have bcc’d others and other groups with this letter.
Thank you once again, for your response, although it is not what we require at this critical point for our environment and our drinking water watersheds.
Chair- Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition and on behalf of all member groups
Editor – www.vancouverislandwaterwatchcoalition.ca