Valuing our Coastal Values

reprinted from Lands and People, Autumn 2007

Close your eyes and think of your special place on BC’s coast. What do you value about that place?

What’s your dream for its future?


Here we go again, another oil spill on the coast. This time it’s diesel in a whale sanctuary; last month it was a pipeline rupture in a Vancouver suburb. In between Westpac Terminals announced a proposed LNG terminal on Texada Island. Sometimes we get so busy with what we are fighting against that we need to be reminded of what we are working towards.

Our Executive Director, Will Horter, recently returned from a tour of the Douglas Channel. He traveled the 140km fjord from Kitimat to Hartley Bay, the route that supertankers will take if any of a number of proposals for oil and gas facilities in Kitimat gain government approval. He came back with videos, photographs and stories about the places he went and people he met.

“You really get a sense of a working ecosystem,” he said, speaking of whale populations on the increase, the abundant bird life and the sea that provided dinner for the small group of activists he was touring with. “You also get a sense of the strength of the individuals and communities that rely on this working ecosystem for their livelihoods.”     

After listening to Will, my mind was not on the destructive projects we are opposing, but the value of what we are working to preserve: the strength and integrity of communities such as Hartley Bay, our spectacular coastline, the diversity of life in the ocean and on the land. These values underpin all our actions at Dogwood Initiative.

We don’t think our values are that different from those of many British Columbians. You don’t have to be in this province long to appreciate the staggering beauty around us and the wealth of our land. It just makes sense that the people closest to those lands and resources should have the biggest say in how they are used. It makes sense that we should work to preserve this great heritage for generations to come.

When I see our politicians clambering after a short-term boom in oil and gas revenues I don’t just see the potential destruction such a boom can cause. I see supposed leaders with little appreciation of the true prosperity of “Super-Natural  British Columbia”, its lands and its people. 

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