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Mid-Island chapter seeks public ownership of Nanaimo’s watershed

Jump Lake

Jump Lake reservoir in the Nanaimo Community Drinking Watershed.

The Council of Canadians Mid-Island chapter has asked Nanaimo city council to work with the Nanaimo Regional District, First Nations, senior levels of government and landowners to begin a process to make the Nanaimo community drinking watershed a publicly owned and controlled asset.

Chapter activist Paul Manly writes, “There are many ways that this could happen including land swaps for crown land, better protection and regulation of watershed lands that are privately owned etc. The important thing is for a dialogue to begin because we need to properly protect the Nanaimo community drinking watershed and other community drinking watersheds on Vancouver island including the watersheds for Ladysmith, Courtenay-Comox, Shawnigan Lake and Port Alberni among others.”

At the city council meeting on Monday (March 9), Manly delivered a petition with 1343 signatures. That petition states, “Your petitioners respectfully request that the City of Nanaimo and the Nanaimo Regional district, work with First Nations, senior levels of government and the current land-owners to begin a process to purchase or expropriate the Nanaimo community drinking watershed and properly protect it for community drinking water purposes now and for future generations, starting with the most important areas including the creeks and valleys above the Jump Lake reservoir, eliminating all industrial and other activity that is not essential to the maintenance of a pristine, secure source of drinking water.”

Local residents are concerned that Nanaimo’s watershed is privately owned by two forest companies, Island Timberlands and Timber West, which both actively log in that area. Road construction and logging have been the main cause of excessive run-off, erosion and the resulting turbidity in the drinking water there. Manly notes, “The Council of Canadians would like to see the City of Nanaimo protect it’s watershed in the same way the City of Victoria has and that is why we are bringing forward this petition.” While there had been poor logging practices in Victoria watershed in the past, Manly adds, “the only activity permitted in that area now is drinking water management and the CRD [Capital Regional District] is a model of good stewardship.”

For further information
Is our community watershed protected? (a chapter & Vancouver Island Water Watch coalition pamphlet)
Public Ownership of the Nanaimo Community Drinking Watershed (the chapter’s petition)
Nanaimo Watershed (a video by Paul Manly shown to Nanaimo city council earlier this week)