Opinion

EDITORIAL: Wetlands need city protection

The perception is we take care of our local water courses. That streams, rivers and wetlands, because they have a small sign saying so, are protected from development, toxins and other threats.

The reality is many fish-bearing streams and wetlands aren’t that much better off now than when environmental concerns went mainstream in the 1980s.

Current accepted practice across the province and country is to permit urban storm run-off to drain unfiltered into sensitive ecosystems and wetlands.

That means whenever it rains, whatever is on our roadways – oil, gas, paint, pesticides – gets flushed straight into the environment unchecked and eventually in the ocean.

Nanaimo is no different. When a development begins, one of the first acts is to direct run-off drainage into the nearest creek, ditch or stream.

What’s more, Nanaimo is one of few municipalities that doesn’t employ an environmental assessment officer, one who can oversee developments to ensure developers are adhering to already slack environmental protocol.

It’s an important omission at a time when senior government downloading results in municipalities taking on environmental responsibility.

However, environmental responsibility is one of the four pillars of the city’s strategic plan, a document intended to guide commitments and decisions for decades to come. Nowhere does the plan prioritize development.

Recently, city council admitted it struggles with decision-making when it comes to riparian areas simply because it doesn’t have the information required. One only has to look at the size of the city’s development department compared to the size of its environment department to understand why.

If Nanaimo is serious about environmental responsibility, it must take a proactive rather than reactive approach to protecting environmental resources.

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