Viewpoint: Hemp is the answer

Has logging become global terrorism in sheep's clothing?

Considering our ecological world is inching closer to teetering on the brink with millions upon millions of global citizens dying annually from air pollution, one could certainly not be faulted for believing so.

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The really tragic part in all of this is that almost all of our fibre needs can be derived from industrial hemp. In fact, nowadays an entire house can be built without cutting down a single tree. Industrial hemp has been proven to be heartier and more durable than its wood-fibre counterpart.

Somewhere along the way we have lost our intellectual capacity to fully understand exactly what a tree is and the necessary crucial functions they perform. Trees are naturally formed objects that suck up pollution, converting it into life-necessary oxygen while protecting aquifers and providing habitat for a myriad of wildlife.

Industrial hemp paper uses a mere fraction of the chemicals its wood-fibre counterpart uses during the manufacturing process. Anytime the hemp industry makes inroads into the marketplace, barriers to entry for further progress are put into place by the forestry industry. The same holds true for the renewable energy sector having to deal with roadblocks put in place by the fossil-fuel industry.

Powell River was founded and built on logging. We should take great pride in that historical fact, but just because it is something we have always done does not mean it makes sense to continue to do so.

There was a time when motor vehicles were operated without seatbelts with mom and dad in the front seat smoking cigarettes, their children in the backseat and the windows rolled up tight. But we don't do that anymore. Why? Because we have tapped into our intellectual sensibilities and allowed ourselves to evolve.

Powell River is consistently being held hostage by a pulp and paper corporation that sheds crocodile tears and continues to espouse a falsehood claim over its inability to pay its fair share of taxes. We have the ability to take control over our own destiny by forming the Powell River Hemp Mill Corporation, securing employment and vital tax revenue generation.

Upcoming sweeping changes to the cannabis landscape will result in dozens upon dozens of people looking to supplant their income. If we allow ourselves to be open to the idea of a city-led initiative to submit an application to Health Canada for commercial-industrial hemp cultivation, with growing taking place on site-specific Agricultural Land Reserve land, in conjunction with site-specific residential growing throughout the entire region, individuals could then sell their fibre yield directly to the processing facility at the current Catalyst mill site.

As demand grows, we would source out fibre materials from other jurisdictions in the province.

Unlike trees, hemp is an annual renewable source of fibre. With local and provincial capital investment for modification to the mill, while teaming up with the development and deployment of a world-class marketing team, we could then demonstrate to the world what it means to achieve sustainable freedom.

Now let us be perfectly clear: this is not some pie-in-the-sky, hippie idealism at play. This is a potentially viable, credible, real-world solution in transitioning to a truly sustainable economy. Just like the electric vehicle will become more mainstream, the same will hold true for the commercial-industrial hemp industry.

The easiest way to deal with a seemingly insurmountable challenge is to simply ignore it. It really does not have to be that way.

Steve Perkins is a resident of Texada Island.

Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak

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