It’s time to put Echo Heights on the shelf

Any plans to develop Echo Heights forest in Chemainus should be shelved for the forseeable future.

Yes, we have blasted North Cowichan in this space for financial irresponsibility.

Yes, just last issue we were calling on the community to create more affordable housing.

And yes, the 20-per-cent proposal for Echo Heights forest could be a significant step toward addressing each of those concerns. But we’ve come to the conclusion any plans to develop this chunk of municipal forestland should be shelved for the foreseeable future.

The reason is not because it is a precious piece of rare ecology — it’s not. And the reason is not because council has no place in the development business, or that there are better places to build.

No, the reason is better than those, or any of the many other reasons that have been put forth in the past decade. Our reason is much more basic: the community does not want it.

There were plenty of good reasons to build a recycling depot on Cameron-Taggart Road. We supported the idea when it was first proposed. But within a few weeks we had reversed that position. It very quickly became clear the community simply did not want it.

And the first lesson of democratic government should be “give the people what they want.”

If the CVRD had heeded that guideline in the ECO Depot fiasco, it could have saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and buckets of ill will.

The Echo Heights proposal has been around much longer than the ECO Depot was, and, if anything, opposition to the idea has intensified.

If the community doesn’t want it, council needs to accept that. That’s why this is called a democracy.

—Cowichan News Leader Pictorial