There is a puzzling dichotomy that arises when Vancouver Islanders consider the inter-relationship between development and the preservation of the natural beauty that surrounds us.
We espouse a love of nature, yet rush to buy homes in developments built on lands that were once home to the very creatures that were the foundations of that natural world.
And when wildlife finds that their millennia-old foraging and hunting grounds have disappeared, and make the mistake of venturing onto the manicured lawns and fenced properties that now inhabit their homes, we see them as pests and rush to have them removed.
That’s why the initiatives of some developers like Sooke’s Wally Vowels are so refreshing. Like Wally, some are beginning to realize that economic growth and environmental protection do not have to be at odds. They can co-exist so long as those developers take a longer-term view of the world, eschewing maximum profit with a more reasoned consideration of the world around them.
Like Wally, a few are accepting and even initiating covenants that will protect wildlife, preserve salmon streams, and create a new paradigm for development.
But it’s time for the governing authorities to catch up.
When Vowels moved to dedicate more than 20 per cent of the land in his latest development to a wildlife corridor, the Capital Regional District completely missed the point by suggesting that it would be a dandy place for hiking trails. (Shaking our heads and slapping our foreheads here.)
And when Vowels pointed out that human activity was not what wildlife corridors were all about, he was hit with a $27,000 bill for his efforts.
It’s horrifying that we have to fight our own governments to help save our environment.
Instead of penalizing developers for doing the right thing, it’s time for our elected representatives to try the same thought exercise that Vowels has described.
They need to take a deep breath and, before making the next decision on development, they need to consider what the impact of their decision will be in 50, 100, or 200 years from today.
Better yet, they need to perform that thought experiment while walking on a seashore, or in the mountains or just in a quiet forest.
And if they need a little help, they should call Vowels. We hear that he knows some wonderful locations that would fit the bill.