A contentious aquaculture application on Texada Island has been withdrawn.
At the Wednesday, August 14, qathet Regional District (qRD) planning committee meeting, regional directors were advised that on July 17, qRD received notification from the provincial ministry of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development that Northeast Shellfish Company had withdrawn its application for aquaculture at Northeast Bay on Texada Island.
On June 27, 2019, the regional district adopted the following resolution: that the board advise the ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations that the qRD strongly objects to the revised application for a crown land tenure for licence of occupation (aquaculture shellfish) in Northeast Bay, Texada Island as it is inconsistent with the Texada Island official community plan.
Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said it was good news for the people of Texada Island.
In an interview following the meeting, McCormick said the withdrawal is significant because there was a lot of concern raised when the project was first being proposed. There were public meetings and many people came out and spoke, wrote letters and petitioned. Delegations came to the qRD and asked the regional district to acquire the land as a park.
McCormick said protecting Northeast Bay as a UREP (use, recreation and enjoyment of the public reserve) is written into the draft new official community plan that has been produced for Texada Island.
“These concerns were very widespread and really, everyone from the youngest hiker to the most senior member of the chamber of commerce recommended that this [aquaculture] project not go ahead at that location,” said McCormick. “No one is opposed to shellfish farms. There are some compelling reasons for that industry. It isn’t to diminish the importance of them but it’s just to say that was the wrong location. That’s why it’s good news that they have withdrawn their application.”
McCormick said while Northeast Bay is near and dear to Texada Island residents, it is noted on the marine trails network and is a really popular spot.
“People truly love that part of the island, and with good reason, because I’ve been there,” said McCormick. “It’s really beautiful. I would hate to see it lost to the public domain.”
McCormick said she thinks people will feel a little more comfortable when the bay has more protection than what it does now. The UREP is recognized as a provincial land use designation but it comes with very little in the way of protection in perpetuity for the use of that land. A delegation from the qRD board that includes McCormick will be asking through the minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development that it be turned over to the regional district as a park.
“The regional district doesn’t have any money to spend on parks acquisition but there are compelling reasons to protect it in the public domain without having to buy it,” said McCormick. “I’m pretty excited about going forward. I’m very happy this application has been withdrawn. I wish the proponent well and hope he applies again somewhere else and is successful.”
McCormick said the message is loud and clear that the people of Texada Island value Northeast Bay and do not want to lose it.