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Nanaimo and Area Land Trust asks RDN to examine Cable Bay’s ecological value

Executive director says area contains endangered species
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Views at Cable Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)

A Nanaimo non-profit dedicated to preserving habitat is asking the regional district to explore the ecological importance of the Cable Bay area.

Paul Chapman, Nanaimo and Area Land Trust executive director, presented at the Regional District of Nanaimo parks and trails committee Tuesday, May 7, and said Cable Bay was identified because of its comparatively old forest and its Garry Oak ecosystems. The purpose was to inform the RDN about the area’s values and suitability for consideration as regional park asset, he told the News Bulletin.

“Cable Bay offers an opportunity to protect a significant area of mature coastal Douglas fir forest and Garry Oak meadows … and waterfront,” Chapman told the committee. “This provides habitat for the usual big things, such as deer, bears and eagles, but also includes smaller things like Muhlenberg’s centaury, pileated woodpecker nesting sites, wetlands and seasonal seeps and pools.”

The Muhlenberg’s centaury plant with “tube-shaped flowers” varying from pink to white, is considered endangered by the Canadian government.

There are two areas near Joan Point Park indicating proposed future park space, said Chapman. Land to the west is owned by Nanaimo Forest Products Limited and land to the east is privately owned with a major development proposed, according to the Save Cable Bay group, which Chapman says NALT has been in contact with. On its Facebook page, the group says the lands connect Joan Point Park and Dodd Narrows and are used by the public and noted that 21,000 people have signed a Change.org petition requesting the area become a park.

Chapman told the committee that Garry Oak ecosystems in the area’s coastal Douglas fir forests are ready for climate change as they “are already adapted for warmer and drier climates” and were important during the heat dome in 2021, for example.

“In terms of that resiliency, that also relates to those opportunities for people to recreate, come together in times of pandemic, where we can be safely outside together or in times of a heat dome, where we have cool, shaded paths, with large stands, large trees leading to the waterfront, those are all part of that community resiliency piece,” Chapman said.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog wondered where Cable Bay protection ranks on NALT’s priority list.

“Ultimately, it’s the good citizens of Nanaimo who are going to end up indirectly paying for half of whatever’s purchased in the regional district,” said Krog. “I’m conscious of that when we have these kinds of discussions or proposals.”

Paul Manly, an RDN director, added that it is expensive for municipal and regional district governments to protect these types of land.

Chapman said in terms of the ranking for conservation from the Garry oak ecosystems recovery team and the recovery plan for species at risk, the highest priority for conservation is Harewood Plains, but he said Cable Bay “figures in the top 10 within the province of B.C.”

There were no related recommendations from the committee.

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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