Being new to the Valley, I wasn’t sure what to expect doing public outreach with One Cowichan on local control. I know that most people would rather not be approached with and issue while they attend an event or are out shopping.
But the community support in the Cowichan Valley has really been amazing. Even those who want to walk by and pretend I’m not speaking to them will stop dead in their tracks and come back when they hear “local control of our watershed”. In fact, I’d say at least 80% of people have been adding their name to our Vote Pledge.
But what does “pledging to vote for local control” even mean? And why do people like you sign your name?
To many it’s the hope that having people who actually live here, who know the issues, concerns, importance of our culture, environment and climate change patterns, will make better decisions for our watershed. You want people to be more accountable for their actions and believe this is possible locally where there’s a chance you may run into them in the grocery store, coffee shop or on the street.
Others sign out of fear and protection from damaging decisions that could be made, similar to those happening in Shawnigan, or for protection from those who would exploit our resources at our expense.
But most of you sign because you remember the Cowichan River drying up last fall. You remember the images of trucks moving salmon up the river so they can spawn and you remember that it all could have been prevented if the province had just agreed to hold back some of the water like locals asked them to do.
There is something wrong with our democracy when one person is in charge of making decisions that have such a strong impact on our ecosystems and culture. BC is known for its beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, green valleys and trees, the ocean and of course the salmon. Why should that be left in the hands of one person who doesn’t even live with the outcomes of his or her decision?
So while two in ten of the people I approach on the street may continue to walk away, the other eight will say “this is something I can get behind” and they’ll sign the Vote Pledge. Some even agree to volunteer to help.
That is what keeps me going. It gives me hope that you care and are willing to sign your name to prove it. With this upcoming election we need to make sure all of the candidates hear us collectively tell them that what has happened in the past is no longer working for our community. The louder the voice, the more we’ll be heard. And what they are hearing is that it’s time for change. It’s time to take back our democracy. It is time for local control.