Leech watershed threatened

A motion brought before the CRD Regional Water Supply Commission has Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks on the lookout.

A motion brought before the CRD Regional Water Supply Commission on November 20 has Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks on the lookout.

A motion was presented to the commission by Ted Robbins, General Manager, Integrated Water Services  (CRD) to close public access to the Leech Water Supply Area.

“The motion brought forward would close the Leech watershed for everyone forever,” said Hicks.

He said Mayor Wendal Milne and himself suggest in the strongest terms to consult the public before anything happens in the watershed. He said there are 300,000 residents in the CRD and consultation should happen.

“By their own admission they wouldn’t even consider using this water for 15 years. Water consumption is going down, they may never have to use it,” said Hicks. “When you have a weighted vote, we would like to see the community be aware of this. We need to start making some noise that we want to be consulted.”

Hicks is concerned that people may not even be able to walk in there and he said it is a high chunk of land. The Leech watershed is accessed through TimberWest property and is comprised of 9,700 hectares. One of the reasons for denying access is the threat of putting the greater Victoria drinking water supply at risk.

The CRD manages over 20,000 hectares of land dedicated to the protection of the region’s water supply. The CRD also has a total regional park area of nearly 11,400 hectares, which accounts for approximately 50 per cent of all the protected lands in the capital region.

“The CRD is the largest land owner in Southern Vancouver Island,” said Hicks. “The public still thinks the CRD is public and the lands are public.”

Hicks stated he pointed out the irony in the Juan de Fuca area saying most of the JdF isn’t in the regional water supply area and we can’t recreate in that area.

“It’s not just us, under the Douglas Treaty the T’Sou-ke and Pacheedaht are allowed to hunt on all unoccupied areas. People hunt, fish, camp and everything up there.”

The motion was tabled, but Hicks warns that it could come up again and nothing should be done without public consultation.

“Next time it could get to this,” he said.