Our take: Chemainus Wells decision the right one
It was a long time coming, but we are satisfied justice was done in the case of the Cowichan River aquifer
The degree of consultation done by the province prior to the approval of the Chemainus wells project certainly did not satisfy the Halalt people.
But three appeal court judges disagreed and we suspect no amount of consultation was going to satisfy the Halalt anyway.
For the Halalt, this issue was never simply about being part of the process, it was about having a degree of control of the tap.
And, despite the many legitimate unresolved issues that small Westholme band has with the province, the waters of the Chemainus River aquifer should no more be theirs than it should be anyone else’s.
The concerns of the Halalt are real. North Cowichan should not be allowed to plunder the river in order to fuel insatiable development in Chemainus. It should not be allowed to put the river ecology at risk by sucking it dry. And it should not be able to supercede the Halalt’s ability to tap the aquifer for its own needs.
But the conditions of the licence are such that they should prevent those things from happening. At the very least they provide for monitoring that should allow the Halalt — and any local resident — to pick up on any warning signs that may occur.
And that point is when the entire community should react. We believe it will.
Water is something that should belong to the entire community, to be used and controlled for the benefit of the entire community, no matter how long any particular family or group of people got there first.
We all care.