On Oct. 16, tentatively, the planning department of the Municipality of North Cowichan is presenting council with the latest plan to develop up to 20 per cent of the Echo Heights Forest in Chemainus with 45-55 single-family houses.
On or after Friday, Oct. 11, you can phone the municipality at 250-746-3100 to confirm the Oct. 16 date. I encourage you to come to the council meeting, which begins at 3 p.m.
Their previous plan was to develop 40 per cent of the 54-acre forest with a variety of housing, including multi-family and affordable. I know there are some people who were in favour of the previous plan because it was not just single-family houses. That is no longer the case.
Along with hundreds of others, I want to see all of the Echo Heights Forest preserved as a park forever.
Ninety-two per cent of the correspondence the municipality has received about the Echo Heights Forest also want 100 per cent of it saved as a park.
There are many reasons to preserve this treasured forest, including the wonderful network of easy walking trails which are enjoyed by people and dogs alike on a daily basis. There are maps in the forest at the trail intersections.
The forest is used by locals, as well as out-of-towners from as far away as Texas and Japan.
The forest has beautiful spring wildflowers, including trillium, tiger lily, blue camas lily, fawn lily and fairy slipper orchid. There are Western Red Cedars, Coastal Douglas Firs, Grand Firs, big Big Leaf Maples, Arbutus and Western Hemlock.
It is an explosion of biodiversity.
The forest provides habitat for many plants and animals that in turn provide great joy to those who enjoy the forest. It is chalk full of traditional medicines and food. The forest absorbs huge quantities of water, preventing flooding below. School children take an easy walk from Chemainus Elementary School to come to learn about nature. Students also come to the forest from Tamagawa University and the University of Victoria.
The forest acts as a buffer for the community from the noise and pollution from the Trans Canada Highway and the smell from nearby farms. There is a geocache in the forest.
North Cowichan recently joined the Partners for Climate Protection Program, a network of Canadian municipal governments committed to reducing greenhouse gases and acting on climate change.
They have just received an award for achieving the first three milestones: creating a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, setting an emissions reduction target, and developing a local action plan.
Now they are tackling milestone No. 4, implementing their Climate Action and Energy Plan (CAEP). They will be eligible for grants and low-interest loans for projects that reduce both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through the Green Municipal Fund and other programs.
The Echo Heights forest falls right in line with the above because of all the carbon the trees and plants absorb.
The benefits of the Echo Heights forest are many. By not putting housing at this site, the municipality will help to keep Chemainus a small town, which is what the residents of Chemainus enjoy.
Chris Clements, a local developer, already has the zoning he needs to develop the “Artisan’s Village” between Chemainus Road, Elm Street and River Road. His plan is to put in 500-700 residential units mixed with commercial buildings. Housing in Echo Heights simply is not needed.
If you would like a guided tour of the Echo Heights Forest, please call me, Diana, at 250-246-4463 or Kathy at 250-416-0382.
Visit YouTube to see wonderful images of the Echo Heights Forest.
Please consider writing to mayor and council of the Municipality of North Cowichan, Box 278, Duncan, BC, V9L 3X4 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org to express your opinion on this topic.
I hope to see you at the council meeting and/or in the forest.
Soothe your soul with a walk through the Echo Heights Forest soon.
“No one ever made a mistake by deciding to not develop a piece of land,” Nancy Turner, ethnobiologist.