Berkey’s Corner public hearing was a farce

I feel compelled to add my voice to those letter writers speaking out against the decision to allow the rezoning of Berkey’s Corner.

I cannot hold it in any longer. I am still angry, and feel compelled to add my voice to those letter writers speaking out against the decision by North Cowichan council to allow the rezoning of Berkey’s Corner.

What has happened to democracy in North Cowichan? The reason given for even allowing this ridiculous proposal to go to public hearing in the first place was to hear what the public had to say. Well, the public spoke, loud and clear. But did council hear? No, they did not. They obviously already had their minds made up, and the public hearing was a farce.

I commend councillors Marsh, Maguire and Douglas, who voted against. They are the ones showing leadership, showing concern for the environment, concern for the neighbourhood, and concern for their children’s and grandchildren’s future.

I am particularly disappointed in Mayor Jon Lefebure, who cast the deciding vote. Here is a man who has put solar panels on his roof, who brags about the award winning Climate Action and Energy Plan — both very worthwhile endeavours. Why, then, would he use the lame excuse that this is a land use decision, and approve a proposal that is nothing more than a 1960s strip mall? One that would pave over a stand of old growth that is acting as a carbon sink, and loved by the neighbours. One that would destroy existing businesses. One that would put in a couple of benches and bike racks and call it pedestrian and bicycle friendly. One that has two drive-thrus that, according to the planner’s bizarre reasoning, will reduce greenhouse gases! All that this development will do is encourage more car use, traffic and idling, while paving paradise.

Approving this rezoning puts responsibility for the final product in the hands of the planner who recommended this mess in the first place, with no guidelines in place to ensure sustainability and concern for the environment. Why, even a former North Cowichan planner has raised major concerns, on the record. No planner worth his salt would even consider such a backwards development, one which states they will actually go so far as to put in R20 insulation! So how did some councillors get sucked in? Could it be they are so desperate for tax revenue that they put money ahead of their grandchildren’s future?

This corner has the potential to be a true neighbourhood centre, if done properly, in real consultation with the neighbourhood and local biologists. It has not passed fourth and final reading yet, so let us hope there is still time for true democracy to emerge.

 

Alan Philip

North Cowichan

Cowichan Valley Citizen