One Cowichan started with a focus on water, but is expanding to take on other critical issues. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)

One Cowichan – water, pipelines, tankers and voters

Hats off to those dozens of Cowichan Valley volunteers who imagined One Cowichan back in 2012.

One Cowichan — water, pipelines, tankers and voters

Hats off to those dozens of Cowichan Valley volunteers who imagined One Cowichan back in 2012.

The urgent and enduring issue was the lack of adequate water storage in Cowichan Lake to maintain the summer and fall river flows necessary for healthy fish populations. The campaign was hugely successful in raising awareness and engaging politicians at all levels. The short-term benefit was increased flexibility in managing the existing weir and flow controls. The long-term benefit is the ongoing work of outreach, research, education and consultation that will ultimately result in a Cowichan Lake water storage solution that will meet the needs of all Valley citizens and fish species that rely on the Cowichan River.

The mission statement for One Cowichan is “To help make the Cowichan Valley a great place to live, work and play”. The phrase “Think global and act local” has guided the group since it’s inception with campaigns targeting oil sands pipelines, solar electric installations, as well as the most recent civic, federal and provincial elections, where volunteers engaged citizens and challenged candidates on issues of importance to the Cowichan community. To date all campaigns have been successful in engaging citizens, raising awareness on local issues, especially related to the Cowichan watershed, increasing voter turnout during elections, encouraging the cancellation of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and helping to make the Cowichan Valley BC Hydro’s “ground zero” for new residential solar electric installations.

One Cowichan is meant to be nimble and able to respond quickly as new issues, priorities and opportunities present themselves. Currently One Cowichan is preparing to embark on one or more new campaigns as directed by core volunteers and surveyed supporters. The following possibilities are on the table: working with the CVRD in support of the fall referendum on creating a “regional drinking water and watershed protection” function; working to support the “yes” side in the proportional representation referendum this fall; engaging voters and local politicians in advance of the civic elections in November; and getting vocal and active in opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project.

The campaign gaining the most support is defending our coast from 400 super tankers a year carrying diluted bitumen in one direction and petroleum condensate in the other (just like the Sanchi tanker that caught fire and sank in the South China Sea early this January). It is not just the tanker threat, but the high volume, high pressure twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline which has averaged more than one leak/spill every year since 1953 (more than 80 reported spills); the trampling of First Nations rights and title on their territories; the threat to multitudes of lakes and rivers along the route, including the Fraser; and the madness of exporting, at an ever increasing rate our essential non-renewable fossil fuel reserves, as well as the processing jobs and energy security that goes with them. All this, combined with the ever-growing certainty around the causes and impacts of climate change make this a battle worthy of our best fighting efforts.

Tactics being considered include outreach and awareness with citizens; pressuring politicians at all levels, supporting direct action and the local building of one or more tiny houses for delivery to the Tiny House Warrior movement of the Secwepmec First Nation near Kamloops. The Secwepmec People are putting a tiny house village on the path of the pipeline to prevent its passage through their territory. Supporting this affordable, sustainable housing, blockade project may be the best chance to save our coast and our future from the greedy self interest of a few, mostly foreign corporations.

In an increasingly unstable world, One Cowichan offers the opportunity for people to get active locally with others of like mind, instead of feeling helpless and hopeless. But they can’t do it without you. You can show your support in the form of time and/or financial resources. For more information, to get involved or to donate to the cause please visit www.onecowichan.ca

Are you in?

David Slade

Cobble Hill

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