(Cowichan Valley, BC) Today the local citizens group One Cowichan launched a non-partisan campaign geared to the upcoming provincial election to gain local control over the Cowichan watershed. The campaign seeks thousands of citizens to pledge to vote for local control, sending a signal to candidates of all political stripes to promise to make this commitment.
“Elections are the time when politicians best listen to the public,” said Parker Jefferson of One Cowichan. “So voters need to come together to get all the candidates on record promising local control of our watershed so that we can begin to address the many challenges we are facing.”
The issue of local control became a flashpoint last year when the province refused a request from Cowichan Tribes and local elected officials to store more water in Cowichan Lake to release during the dry season. But, the watershed faces several other challenges, including water pollution and largely unregulated logging and development that is damaging riparian areas and changing water flows.
“While we face multiple challenges today, we also believe we can become a model for the rest of Canada by giving the Cowichan Watershed Board some real authority to implement the plans that knowledgeable locals have been working on for some time,” said Jefferson.
Currently, the Watershed Board plays a largely advisory role, while the real decisions are made by provincial or federal officials. One Cowichan is seeking a pilot project where some of these powers are delegated to the Watershed Board by the Provincial Legislature. With Cowichan Tribes a partner in the Board, this would be an opportunity for co-management of the watershed.
The campaign will reach out to local citizens to make the pledge both in person and online through social media. One Cowichan volunteers will table at events and go door-to-door around the valley over the coming weeks.
The vote pledge can be found at www.onecowichan.ca
One Cowichan is a citizens group that works to make the Cowichan Valley a great place to live, work and play. It believes in holding decision makers accountable to the strong social and environmental values that join us together as a community, and in celebrating this beautiful place - our home.
For more information call Parker Jefferson at 250-737-1463