Friday, December 28, 2007
The Saddest Pagan in the World
B26431 / Tue, 25 Dec 2007 13:14:38 / Environment
Along with all the other shit that went down this past month, I got hit with the stomach flu, and that triggered fresh spasms of health problems. I’m on drugs now, but they’re not fun drugs. At least I don’t have to worry about getting fat.
The local paper has publicly labeled the Bear Mountain tree sit crew as tree-spikers, vandals, welfare bums, poachers, and outside agitators. The RCMP and city enforcement officers stepped up their harassment this week after the forest defenders dug a trench and built a barricade across the access road at the site of the new highway bypass.
The campers are in high spirits. Six platforms are now occupied by brave souls who are risking their freedom to protect the Langford Lake Cave, Spencer’s Pond, the wetlands, the screech owls, great horned owls, red-legged frogs and arbutus trees. Supporters and volunteers bring food, blankets, and cash donations. The legal defense fund is swollen with contributions as we brace for the inevitable court battle.
Physical and emotional distress have been keeping me away from the camp for long periods. But Saturday night, I was hanging out in the forest, watching low clouds fly across the face of the nearly-full moon, when the shout came from the road. Three RCMP cruisers pulled up at high speed, the lead car braking too late to avoid plunging partway into the trench at the end of the road. The headlights came straight at us, and then dipped down sharply. I thought, “Oh shit, they’re gonna be pissed.”
They were. I ducked behind the welcome tent as the officers stormed into the camp. “You’re all under arrest,” the biggest one boomed out, shining a high-powered light at the four young men in front of him. I hit the dirt, face down in the wet leaves and low brush right behind the tent.
Shouts, running feet pounding down the trail, and the rest of the crew booked it into the woods. “Don’t move!” barked the officer at the four standing their ground. “Everyone’s under arrest.” To another officer: “Take that crap down.” The second officer grabbed the makeshift tent and began to tear its tarp roof from the log beams. A few feet away, I cowered down closer to the ground, barely breathing. The lights shone back and forth, up and down.
Then my cell phone rang. I scrambled to shut it off. All the beams turned in my direction. “What’s that?” barked the officer. “Go check it out.” I melded with the mud and wet leaves at the base of a scrawny dogwood. The lights came closer. Then a shout from the woods pulled them away again.
I was plotting my chances of escape, so I could call the lawyers and bail the tree people out of jail. But there was no need. The cops held the men for half an hour, took their names and gave a lecture. No camping on the roadway. Then everyone was released.
Now I’m back home in the old farmhouse that I share with three other people and assorted visitors camping out on the living room couches. But there is only one bathroom. I keep a bucket with a tight-fitting lid in the bedroom, since my gut rot won’t let me wait around for a vacancy. The room is lovely, with a high ceiling and bay windows, and right now it stinks of shit and incense.
Thanks to the gastritis, the stomach flu, the stress and everything else, my immune system is shot to hell. My sinuses are oozing bright yellow snot and I’m woozy from fever. I’m broke and in debt.
It was obvious that there would be no Christmas for me this year.
But late last night, I heard a commotion on the porch. My friend Rose Henry was knocking on the door. “Merry Christmas,” she said. The man behind her was lugging a hamper filled with mandarin oranges, cranberry sauce, canned veggies, pasta, stuffing mix, candy, and even toilet paper. I almost cried.
One of the roommates got a turkey, and he’s invited a couple friends over for an orphans’ Christmas tonight. I’m making the stuffing.
It makes me think — even the saddest pagan in the world might find happiness at Christmas.
Foul play suspected in death of N.S. aboriginal activist
December 28, 2007 at 11:55 AM EST
TRURO, N.S. — Police say foul play is suspected in the death of a Nova Scotia aboriginal activist.
But police said Friday the death of Nora Bernard has not yet been classified as a homicide and they are continuing their investigation.
The 72-year-old woman's body was found on the floor of her home following a 911 call early Thursday morning.
Staff Sgt. Randy MacKenzie of the Truro Police Service said the cause and manner of death have not yet been determined, but autopsy results are expected this weekend.
Death of woman who filed landmark lawsuit is called suspicious
Family members have said they believe Ms. Bernard died from a heart attack or stroke.
Well-known in the community, Ms. Bernard filed the first class-action lawsuit against the Canadian government on behalf of all residential school children, seeking compensation for loss of language and culture.
Ms. Bernard has been credited for her dedication and determination in the lawsuit. The settlement has about 70,000 potential claimants and could be worth upwards of $5-billion.
Truro police received a call at 2:47 a.m. Thursday about a sudden death at the home.
Forensic investigators were at the home all day on Thursday while a K-9 unit searched the surrounding area.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
What will we eat as the oil runs out?
by Richard Heinberg
Published on 3 Dec 2007 by Global Public Media. Archived on 3 Dec 2007.
Our global food system faces a crisis of unprecedented scope. This crisis, which threatens to imperil the lives of hundreds of millions and possibly billions of human beings, consists of four simultaneously colliding dilemmas, all arising from our relatively recent pattern of dependence on depleting fossil fuels.
The first dilemma consists of the direct impacts on agriculture of higher oil prices: increased costs for tractor fuel, agricultural chemicals, and the transport of farm inputs and outputs.
The second is an indirect consequence of high oil prices - the increased demand for biofuels, which is resulting in farmland being turned from food production to fuel production, thus making food more costly.
The third dilemma consists of the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events caused by fuel-based greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is the greatest environmental crisis of our time; however, fossil fuel depletion complicates the situation enormously, and if we fail to address either problem properly the consequences will be dire.
Finally comes the degradation or loss of basic natural resources (principally, topsoil and fresh water supplies) as a result of high rates, and unsustainable methods, of production stimulated by decades of cheap energy.
Each of these problems is developing at a somewhat different pace regionally, and each is exacerbated by the continually expanding size of the human population. As these dilemmas collide, the resulting overall food crisis is likely to be profound and unprecedented in scope.
I propose to discuss each of these dilemmas briefly and to show how all are intertwined with our societal reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. I will then argue that the primary solution to the overall crisis of the world food system must be a planned rapid reduction in the use of fossil fuels in the growing and delivery of food. As we will see, this strategy, though ultimately unavoidable, will bring enormous problems of its own unless it is applied with forethought and intelligence. But the organic movement is uniquely positioned to guide this inevitable transition of the world's food systems away from reliance on fossil fuels, if leaders and practitioners of the various strands of organic agriculture are willing to work together and with policy makers.
Until now, fossil fuels have been widely perceived as an enormous boon to humanity, and certainly to the human food system. After all, there was a time not so long ago when famine was an expected, if not accepted, part of life even in wealthy countries. Until the 19th century - whether in China, France, India or Britain - food came almost entirely from local sources and harvests were variable. In good years, there was plenty - enough for seasonal feasts and for storage in anticipation of winter and hard times to come; in bad years, starvation cut down the poor, the very young, the old, and the sickly. Sometimes bad years followed one upon another, reducing the size of the population by several percent. This was the normal condition of life in pre-industrial societies, and it persisted for thousands of years.1
By the nineteenth century a profound shift in this ancient regime was under way. For Europeans, the export of surplus population to other continents, crop rotation, and the application of manures and composts were all gradually making famines less frequent and severe. European farmers, realizing the need for a new nitrogen source in order to continue feeding burgeoning and increasingly urbanized populations, began employing guano imported from islands off the coasts of Chile and Peru. The results were gratifying. However, after only a few decades, these guano deposits were being depleted. By this time, in the late 1890s, the world's population was nearly twice what it had been at the beginning of the century. A crisis was in view.
But crisis was narrowly averted through the use of fossil fuels. In 1909, two German chemists named Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch invented a process to synthesize ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen and the hydrogen in fossil fuels. The process initially used coal as a feedstock, though later it was adapted to use natural gas. After the end of the Great War, nation after nation began building Haber-Bosch plants; today the process yields 150 million tons of ammonia-based fertilizer per year, producing a total quantity of available nitrogen equal to the amount introduced annually by all natural sources combined.2
Fossil fuels went on to offer other ways of extending natural limits to the human carrying capacity of the planet.
In the 1890s, roughly one quarter of British and American cropland had been set aside to grow grain to feed horses, of which most worked on farms. The internal combustion engine provided a new kind of horsepower not dependent on horses at all, and thereby increased the amount of arable land available to feed humans. Early steam-driven tractors had come into limited use in 19th century; but, after World War I, the effectiveness of powered farm machinery expanded dramatically, and the scale of use exploded throughout the twentieth century, especially in North America, Europe, and Australia.
Chemists developed synthetic pesticides and herbicides in increasing varieties after World War II, using knowledge pioneered in laboratories that had worked to perfect explosives and other chemical warfare agents. Petrochemical-based pesticides not only increased crop yields in North America, Europe, and Australia, but also reduced the prevalence of insect-borne diseases like malaria. The world began to enjoy the benefits of "better living through chemistry," though the environmental costs, in terms of water and soil pollution and damage to vulnerable species, would only later become widely apparent.
In the 1960s, industrial-chemical agricultural practices began to be exported to what by that time was being called the Third World: this was glowingly dubbed the Green Revolution, and it enabled a tripling of food production during the ensuing half-century.
At the same time, the scale and speed of distribution of food increased. This also constituted a means of increasing human carrying capacity, though in a more subtle way. The trading of food goes back to Paleolithic times; but, with advances in transport, the quantities and distances involved gradually increased. Here again, fossil fuels were responsible for a dramatic discontinuity in the previously slow pace of growth. First by rail and steamship, then by truck and airplane, immense amounts of grain and ever-larger quantities of meat, vegetables, and specialty foods began to flow from countryside to city, from region to region, and from continent to continent.
The end result of chemical fertilizers, plus powered farm machinery, plus increased scope of transportation and trade, was not just an enormous leap in crop yields, but a similar explosion of human population, which has grown over six-fold since [the] dawn of [the] industrial revolution.
However, in the process, conventional industrial agriculture has become overwhelmingly dependent on fossil fuels. According to one study, approximately ten calories of fossil fuel energy are needed to produce each calorie of food energy in modern industrial agriculture.3 With globalized trade in food, many regions host human populations larger than local resources alone could possibly support. Those systems of global distribution and trade also rely on oil.
Today, in the industrialized world, the frequency of famine that our ancestors knew and expected is hard to imagine. Food is so cheap and plentiful that obesity is a far more widespread concern than hunger. The average mega-supermarket stocks an impressive array of exotic foods from across the globe, and even staples are typically trucked or shipped from hundreds of miles away. All of this would be well and good if it were sustainable, but the fact that nearly all of this recent abundance depends on depleting, non-renewable fossil fuels whose burning emits climate-altering carbon dioxide gas means that the current situation is not sustainable. This means that it must and will come to an end.
The Worsening Oil Supply Picture
During the past decade a growing chorus of energy analysts has warned of the approach of "Peak Oil," the time when the global rate of extraction of petroleum will reach a maximum and begin its inevitable decline.
During this same decade, the price of oil has advanced from about US$12 per barrel to nearly $100 per barrel.
While there is some dispute among experts as to when the peak will occur, there is none as to whether. The global peak is merely the cumulative result of production peaks in individual oilfields and whole oil-producing nations, and these mini-peaks are occurring at an increasing rate.
The most famous and instructive national peak occurred in the US in 1970: at that time America produced 9.5 million barrels of oil per day; the current figure is less than 5.2 Mb/d. While at one time the US was the world's foremost oil exporting nation, it is today the world's foremost importer.
The history of US oil production also helps us evaluate the prospects for delaying the global peak. After 1970, exploration efforts succeeded in identifying two enormous new American oil provinces - the North Slope of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. During this period, other kinds of liquid fuels (such as ethanol and gas condensates) began to supplement crude. Also, improvements in oil recovery technology helped to increase the proportion of the oil in existing fields able to be extracted. These are precisely the strategies (exploration, substitution, and technological improvements) that the oil producers are relying on to delay the global production peak. In the US, each of these strategies made a difference - but not enough to reverse, for more than a year or two at a time, the overall 37-year trend of declining production. To assume that the results for the world as a whole will be much different is probably unwise.
The recent peak and decline in production of oil from the North Sea is of perhaps of more direct relevance to this audience. In just seven years, production from the British-controlled region has declined by almost half.
How near is the global peak? Today the majority of oil-producing nations are seeing reduced output: in 2006, BP's Statistical Review of World Energy reported declines in 27 of the 51 producing nations listed. In some instances, these declines will be temporary and are occurring because of lack of investment in production technology or domestic political problems. But in most instances the decline results from factors of geology: while older oil fields continue to yield crude, beyond a certain point it becomes impossible to maintain existing flow rates by any available means. As a result, over time there are fewer nations in the category of oil exporters and more nations in the category of oil importers.4
Meanwhile global rates of discovery of new oilfields have been declining since 1964.5
These two trends (a growing preponderance of past-peak producing nations, and a declining success rate for exploration) by themselves suggest that the world peak may be near [or here].
Clearly the timing of the global peak is crucial. If it happens soon, or if in fact it already has occurred, the consequences will be devastating. Oil has become the world's foremost energy resource. There is no ready substitute, and decades will be required to wean societies from it. Peak Oil could therefore constitute the greatest economic challenge since the dawn of the industrial revolution.
An authoritative new study by the Energy Watch Group of Germany concludes that global crude production hit its maximum level in 2006 and has already begun its gradual decline.6 Indeed, the past two years have seen sustained high prices for oil, a situation that should provide a powerful incentive to increase production wherever possible. Yet actual aggregate global production of conventional petroleum has stagnated during this time; the record monthly total for crude was achieved in May 2005, 30 months ago.
The latest medium-term report of the IEA, issued July 9, projects that world oil demand will rise by about 2.2 percent per year until 2012 while production will lag, leading to what the report's authors call a "supply crunch."7
Many put their hopes in coal and other low-grade fossil fuels to substitute for depleting oil. However, global coal production will hit its own peak perhaps as soon as 2025 according to the most recent studies, while so-called "clean coal" technologies are three decades away from widespread commercial application.8 Thus to avert a climate catastrophe from coal-based carbon emissions, our best hope is simply to keep most of the remaining coal in the ground.
The Price of Sustenance
During these past two years, as oil prices have soared, food prices have done so as well. Farmers now face steeply increasing costs for tractor fuel, agricultural chemicals, and the transport of farm inputs and outputs. However, the linkage between fuel and food prices is more complicated than this, and there are other factors entirely separate from petroleum costs that have impacted food prices. I will attempt to sort these various linkages and influences out in a moment.
First, however, it is worth taking a moment to survey the food price situation.
An article by John Vidal published in the Guardian on November 3, titled "Global Food Crisis Looms As Climate Change and Fuel Shortages Bite," began this way:
Empty shelves in Caracas. Food riots in West Bengal and Mexico. Warnings of hunger in Jamaica, Nepal, the Philippines and sub-Saharan Africa. Soaring prices for basic foods are beginning to lead to political instability, with governments being forced to step in to artificially control the cost of bread, maize, rice and dairy products.
Record world prices for most staple foods have led to 18 percent food price inflation in China, 13 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan, and 10 percent or more in Latin America, Russia and India, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50 percent higher than a year ago and rice is 20 percent more expensive. . . .
Last week the Kremlin forced Russian companies to freeze the price of milk, bread and other foods until January 31. . . .
India, Yemen, Mexico, Burkina Faso and several other countries have had, or been close to, food riots in the last year. . . . Meanwhile, there are shortages of beef, chicken and milk in Venezuela and other countries as governments try to keep a lid on food price inflation.9
Jacques Diouf, head of the FAO, said in London early this month, "If you combine the increase of the oil prices and the increase of food prices then you have the elements of a very serious [social] crisis. . . ." FAO statistics show that grain stocks have been declining for more than a decade and now stand at a mere 57 days, the lowest level in a quarter century, threatening what it calls "a very serious crisis."10
According to Josette Sheeran, director of the UN's World Food Program (WFP), "There are 854 million hungry people in the world and 4 million more join their ranks every year. We are facing the tightest food supplies in recent history. For the world's most vulnerable, food is simply being priced out of their reach."11
In its biannual Food Outlook report released November 7, the FAO predicted that higher food prices will force poor nations, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, to cut food consumption and risk an increase in malnutrition. The report noted, "Given the firmness of food prices in the international markets, the situation could deteriorate further in the coming months."12
Meanwhile, a story by Peter Apps in Reuters from October 16 noted that the cost of food aid is rising dramatically, just as the global need for aid is expanding. The amount of money that nations and international agencies set aside for food aid remains relatively constant, while the amount of food that money will buy is shrinking.13
To be sure, higher food prices are good for farmers - assuming that at least some of the increase in price actually translates to higher income for growers. This is indeed the case for the poorest farmers, who have never adopted industrial methods. But for many others, the higher prices paid for food simply reflect higher production costs. Meanwhile, it is the urban poor who are impacted the worst.
Impact of Biofuels
One factor influencing food prices arises from the increasing incentives for farmers worldwide to grow biofuel crops rather than food crops. Ethanol and biodiesel can be produced from a variety of crops including maize, soy, rapeseed, sunflower, cassava, sugar cane, palm, and jatropha. As the price of oil rises, many farmers are finding that they can produce more income from their efforts by growing these crops and selling them to a biofuels plant, than by growing food crops either for their local community or for export.
Already nearly 20 percent of the US maize crop is devoted to making ethanol, and that proportion is expected to rise to one quarter, based solely on existing projects-in-development and government mandates. Last year US farmers grew 14 million tons of maize for vehicles. This took millions of hectares of land out of food production and nearly doubled the price of corn. Both Congress and the White House favour expanding ethanol production even further - to replace 20 percent of gasoline demand by 2017 - in an effort to promote energy security by reducing reliance on oil imports. Other nations including Britain are mandating increased biofuel production or imports as a way of reducing carbon emissions, though most analyses show that the actual net reduction in CO2 will be minor or nonexistent.14
The US is responsible for 70 percent of world maize exports, and countries such as Mexico, Japan, and Egypt that depend on American corn farmers use maize both as food for people and feed for animals. The ballooning of the US ethanol industry is therefore impacting food availability in other nations both directly and indirectly, raising the price for tortillas in Mexico and disrupting the livestock and poultry industries in Europe and Africa.
GRAIN, a Barcelona-based food-resources NGO, reports that the Indian government is committed to planting 14 million hectares with Jatropha for biodiesel production. Meanwhile, Brazil plans to grow 120 million hectares of fuel crops, and Africa up to 400 million hectares. While currently unproductive land will be used for much of this new production, many millions of people will be forced off that land in the process.15
Lester Brown, founder of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, has said: "The competition for grain between the world's 800 million motorists, who want to maintain their mobility, and its two billion poorest people, who are simply trying to survive, is emerging as an epic issue."16 This is an opinion no longer being voiced just by environmentalists. In its twice-yearly report on the world economy, released October 17, the International Monetary Fund noted that, "The use of food as a source of fuel may have serious implications for the demand for food if the expansion of biofuels continues."17 And earlier this month, Oxfam warned the EU that its policy of substituting ten percent of all auto fuel with biofuels threatened to displace poor farmers. Jean Ziegler, a UN special rapporteur went so far as to call the biofuel trade "a crime against humanity," and echoed journalist George Monbiot's call for a five-year moratorium on government mandates and incentives for biofuel expansion.18
The British government has pledged that "only the most sustainable biofuels" will be used in the UK, but, as Monbiot has recently noted, there are no explicit standards to define "sustainable" biofuels, and there are no means to enforce those standards in any case.19
Impact of Climate Change and Environmental Degradation
Beyond the push for biofuels, the food crisis is also being driven by extreme weather events and environmental degradation.
The phrase "global warming" implies only the fact that the world's average temperature increase by a degree or more over the next few decades. The much greater problem for farmers is destabilization of weather patterns. We face not just a warmer climate, but climate chaos: droughts, floods, and stronger storms in general (hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, hail storms) - in short, unpredictable weather of all kinds. Farmers depend on relatively consistent seasonal patterns of rain and sun, cold and heat; a climate shift can spell the end of farmers' ability to grow a crop in a given region, and even a single freak storm can destroy an entire year's national production for some crops. Given the fact that modern agriculture has become highly centralized due to cheap transport and economies of scale, the damage from that freak storm is today potentially continental or even global in scale. We have embarked on a century in which, increasingly, freakish weather is normal.
According to the UN's World Food Program (WFP), 57 countries, including 29 in Africa, 19 in Asia and nine in Latin America, have been hit by catastrophic floods. Harvests have been affected by drought and heatwaves in south Asia, Europe, China, Sudan, Mozambique and Uruguay.20
Last week the Australian government said drought had slashed predictions of winter harvests by nearly 40 percent, or four million tons. "It is likely to be even smaller than the disastrous drought-ravaged 2006-07 harvest and the worst in more than a decade," said the Bureau of Agriculture and Resource.21
In addition to climate chaos, we must contend with the depletion or degradation of several resources essential to agriculture.
Phosphorus is set to become much more scarce and expensive, according to a study by Patrick Déry, a Canadian agriculture and environment analyst and consultant. Using data from the US Geological Survey, Déry performed a peaking analysis on phosphate rock, similar to the techniques used by petroleum geologists to forecast declines in production from oilfields. He found that "we have already passed the phosphate peak [of production] for United States (1988) and for the World (1989)." We will not completely run out of rock phosphate any time soon, but we will be relying on lower-grade ores as time goes on, with prices inexorably rising.22
At the same time, soil erosion undermines food production and water availability, as well as producing 30 percent of climate-changing greenhouse gases. Each year, roughly 100,000 square kilometres of land loses its vegetation and becomes degraded or turns into desert, altering the temperature and energy balance of the planet.23
Finally, yet another worrisome environmental trend is the increasing scarcity of fresh water. According to United Nations estimates, one third of the world's population lives in areas with water shortages and 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. That situation is expected to worsen dramatically over the next few decades. Climate change has provoked more frequent and intense droughts in sub-tropical areas of Asia and Africa, exacerbating shortages in some of the world's poorest countries.
While human population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. According to Bridget Scanlon and colleagues, writing in Water Resources Research this past March 27, in the last 100 years irrigated agriculture expanded globally by 480 percent, and it is projected to increase another 20 percent by 2030 in developing countries. Irrigation is expanding fastest in countries such as China and India. Global irrigated agriculture now accounts for almost 90 percent of global freshwater consumption, despite representing only 18 percent of global cropland. In addition to drawing down aquifers and surface water sources, it also degrades water quality, as salts in soils are mobilized, and as fertilizers and pesticides leach into aquifers and streams.24
These problems all interact and compound one another. For example, soil degradation produces growing shortages of water, since soil and vegetation act as a sponge that holds and gradually releases water. Soil degradation also worsens climate change as increased evaporation triggers more extreme weather.
This month the UN Environment Program concluded that the planet's water, land, air, plants, animals and fish stocks are all in "inexorable decline." Much of this decline is due to agriculture, which constitutes the greatest single source of human impact on the biosphere.25
In the face of all these daunting challenges, the world must produce more food every year to keep up with population growth. Zafar Adeel, director of the International Network on Water, Environment and Health (INWEH), has calculated that more food will have to be produced during the next 50 years than during the last 10,000 years combined.26
What Is the Solution?
International food agency officials spin out various scenarios to describe how our currently precarious global food system might successfully adapt and expand. Perhaps markets will automatically readjust to shortages, higher prices making it more profitable once again to grow crops for people rather than cars. New designer-gene crop varieties could help crops adapt to capricious climactic conditions, to require less water, or to grow in more marginal soils. And if people were to simply eat less meat, more land could be freed up to grow food for humans rather than farm animals. A slowdown or reversal in population growth would naturally ease pressures on the food system, while the cultivation of currently unproductive land could help increase supplies.
However, given the scale of the crisis facing us, merely to assume that these things will happen, or that they will be sufficient to overcome the dilemmas we have been discussing, seems overly optimistic, perhaps even to the point of irresponsibility.
One hopeful sign is that governments and international agencies are beginning to take the situation seriously. This month the World Bank issued a major report, "Agriculture for Development," whose main author, economist Alain de Janvry, appears to reverse his institution's traditional stance. For a half-century, development agencies such as the World Bank have minimized the importance of agriculture, urging nations to industrialize and urbanize as rapidly as possible. Indeed, the Bank has not featured agriculture in an annual report since 1982. De Janvry says that, since half the world's population and three-quarters of the world's poor live in rural areas where food production is the mainstay of the economy, farming must be central to efforts to reduce hunger and poverty.27
Many agencies, including the INWEH, are now calling for an end to the estimated 30 billion dollars in food subsidies in the North that contribute directly to land degradation in Africa and elsewhere, and that force poor farmers to intensify their production in order to compete.28
In addition, there are calls for sweeping changes in how land use decisions are made at all levels of government. Because soil, water, energy, climate, biodiversity, and food production are interconnected, integrated policy-making is essential. Yet policies currently are set by various different governmental departments and agencies that often have little understanding of one another's sectors.
Delegates at a soils forum in Iceland this month took up a proposal for a formal agreement on protecting the world's soils. And the World Water Council is promoting a range of programs to ensure the availability of clean water especially to people in poorer countries.29
All these efforts are laudable; however, they largely fail to address the common sources of the dilemmas we face - human population growth, and society's and agriculture's reliance on fossil fuels.
The solution most often promoted by the biggest companies within the agriculture industry - the bioengineering of crops and farm animals - does little or nothing to address these deeper causes. One can fantasize about modifying maize or rice to fix nitrogen in the way that legumes do, but so far efforts in that direction have failed. Meanwhile, and the bio-engineering industry itself consumes fossil fuels, and assumes the continued availability of oil for tractors, transportation, chemicals production, and so on.30
To get to the heart of the crisis, we need a more fundamental reform of agriculture than anything we have seen in many decades. In essence, we need an agriculture that does not require fossil fuels.
The idea is not new. The aim of substantially or entirely removing fossil fuels from agriculture is implicit in organic farming in all its various forms and permutations - including ecological agriculture, Biodynamics, Permaculture, Biointensive farming, and Natural Farming. All also have in common a prescription for the reduction or elimination of tillage, and the reduction or elimination of reliance on mechanized farm equipment. Nearly all of these systems rely on increased amounts of human labour, and on greater application of place-specific knowledge of soils, microorganisms, weather, water, and interactions between plants, animals, and humans.
Critics of organic or biological agriculture have always contended that chemical-free and less-mechanized forms of food production are incapable of feeding the burgeoning human population. This view is increasingly being challenged.
A recent survey of studies, by Christos Vasilikiotis, Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley, titled "Can Organic Farming Feed the World?", concluded: "From the studies mentioned above and from an increasing body of case studies, it is becoming evident that organic farming does not result in either catastrophic crop losses due to pests nor in dramatically reduced yields. . . ."31
The most recent publication on the subject, by Perfecto et al., in Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, found that "Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food on individual farms in developing countries, as [conventional] methods on the same land. . . ."32
Moreover, is clear that ecological agriculture could help directly to address the dilemmas we have been discussing.
Regarding water, organic production can help by building soil structure, thus reducing the need for irrigation. And with no petrochemical runoff, water quality is not degraded.33
Soil erosion and land degradation can be halted and even reversed: by careful composting, organic farmers have demonstrated the ability to build humus at many times the natural rate.34
Climate change can be addressed, by keeping carbon molecules in the soil and in forests and grasslands. Indeed, as much as 20 percent of anticipated net fossil fuel emissions between now and 2050 could be stored in this way, according to Maryam Niamir-Fuller of the U.N. Development Program.35
Natural gas depletion will mean higher prices and shortages for ammonia-based nitrogen fertilizers. But ecologically sound organic-biological agricultural practices use plant and manure-based fertilizers rather than fossil fuels. And when farmers concentrate on building healthy topsoil rich in beneficial microbes, plants have reduced needs for nitrogen.36
The impending global shortage of phosphate will be more difficult to address, as there is no substitute for this substance. The only solution here will be to recycle nutrients by returning all animal and human manures to cultivated soil, as Asian farmers did for many centuries, and as many ecological farmers have long advocated.37
What Will Be Needed
How might we actually accomplish this comprehensive transformation [f]or world agriculture? Some clues are offered by the example of a society that has already experienced and dealt with a fossil-fuel famine.
In the late 1980s, farmers in Cuba were highly reliant on cheap fuels and petrochemicals imported from the Soviet Union, using more agrochemicals per acre than their US counterparts. In 1990, as the Soviet empire collapsed, Cuba lost those imports and faced an agricultural crisis. The average Cuban lost 20 pounds of body weight and malnutrition was nearly universal. The Cuban GDP fell dramatically and inhabitants of the island nation experienced a substantial decline in their material standard of living.38
Several agronomists at Cuban universities had for many years been advocating a transition to organic methods. Cuban authorities responded to the crisis by giving these ecological agronomists carte blanche to redesign the nation's food system. Officials broke up large state-owned farms, offered land to farming families, and encouraged the formation of small agricultural co-ops. Cuban farmers began employing oxen as a replacement for the tractors they could no longer afford to fuel. Cuban scientists began investigating biological methods of pest control and soil fertility enhancement. The government sponsored widespread education in organic food production, and the Cuban people adopted a mostly vegetarian diet out of necessity. Salaries for agricultural workers were raised, in many cases to above the levels of urban office workers. Urban gardens were encouraged in parking lots and on public lands, and thousands of rooftop gardens appeared. Small food animals such as chickens and rabbits began to be raised on rooftops as well.
As a result of these efforts, Cuba was able to avoid what might otherwise have been a severe famine.
If the rest of the world does not plan for a reduction in fossil fuel use in agriculture, its post-peak-oil agricultural transition may be far less successful than was Cuba's. Already in poor countries, farmers who are attempting to apply industrial methods but cannot afford tractor fuel and petrochemical inputs are watching their crops fail. Soon farmers in wealthier nations will be having a similar experience.
Where food is still being produced, there will be the challenge of getting it to the stores. Britain had a taste of this problem in 2000; David Strahan relates in his brilliant book The Last Oil Shock how close Britain came to political chaos then as truckers went on strike because of high fuel costs. He writes: "Supermarket shelves were being stripped of staple foods in scenes of panic buying. Sainsbury, Asda, and Safeway reported that some branches were having to ration bread and milk."39 This was, of course, merely a brief interruption in the normal functioning of the British energy-food system. In the future we may be facing instead what my colleague James Howard Kunstler calls "the long emergency."40
How will Britain and the rest of the world cope? What will be needed to ensure a successful transition away from an oil-based food system, as opposed to a haphazard and perhaps catastrophic one?
Because ecological organic farming methods are often dramatically more labour- and knowledge-intensive than industrial agriculture, their adoption will require an economic transformation of societies. The transition to a non-fossil-fuel food system will take time. Nearly every aspect of the process by which we feed ourselves must be redesigned. And, given the likelihood that global oil peak will occur soon, this transition must occur at a forced pace, backed by the full resources of national governments.
Without cheap transportation fuels we will have to reduce the amount of food transportation that occurs, and make necessary transportation more efficient. This implies increased local food self-sufficiency. It also implies problems for large cities that have been built in arid regions capable of supporting only small populations from their regional resource base. In some cases, relocation of people on a large scale may be necessary.
We will need to grow more food in and around cities. Recently, Oakland California adopted a food policy that mandates by 2015 the growing within a fifty-mile radius of city center of 40 percent of the vegetables consumed in the city.41
Localization of food systems means moving producers and consumers of food closer together, but it also means relying on the local manufacture and regeneration of all of the elements of the production process - from seeds to tools and machinery. This again would appear to rule out agricultural bioengineering, which favours the centralized production of patented seed varieties, and discourages the free saving of seeds from year to year by farmers.
Clearly, we must also minimize indirect chemical inputs to agriculture - such as those introduced in packaging and processing.
We will need to re-introduce draft animals in agricultural production. Oxen may be preferable to horses in many instances, because the former can eat straw and stubble, while the latter would compete with humans for grains. We can only bring back working animals to the extent that we can free up land with which to produce food for them. One way to do that would be to reduce the number of farm animals grown for meat [in Cuba beef consumption was discouraged until the stock of oxen increased].
Governments must also provide incentives for people to return to an agricultural life. It would be a mistake to think of this simply in terms of the need for a larger agricultural work force. Successful traditional agriculture requires social networks and intergenerational sharing of skills and knowledge. We need not just more agricultural workers, but a rural culture that makes farming a rewarding way of life capable of attracting young people.
Farming requires knowledge and experience, and so we will need education for a new generation of farmers; but only some of this education can be generic - much of it must of necessity be locally appropriate.
It will be necessary as well to break up the corporate mega-farms that produce so much of today's cheap food. Industrial agriculture implies an economy of scale that will be utterly inappropriate and unworkable for post-industrial food systems. Thus land reform will be required in order to enable smallholders and farming co-ops to work their own plots.
In order for all of this to happen, governments must end subsidies to industrial agriculture and begin subsidizing post-industrial agricultural efforts. There are many ways this could be done. The present regime of subsidies is so harmful that merely stopping it in its tracks might be advantageous; but, given the fact that rapid adaptation is essential, offering subsidies for education, no-interest loans for land purchase, and technical support during the transition from chemical to organic production would be essential.
Finally, given carrying-capacity limits, food policy must include population policy. We must encourage smaller families by means of economic incentives and improve the economic and educational status of women in poorer countries.
All of this constitutes a gargantuan task, but the alternatives - doing nothing or attempting to solve our food-production problems simply by applying mere techno-fixes - will almost certainly lead to dire consequences. All of the worrisome trends mentioned earlier would intensify to the point that the human carrying capacity of Earth would be degraded significantly, and perhaps to a large degree permanently.42
So far we have addressed the responsibility of government in facilitating the needed transformation in agriculture. Consumers can help enormously by becoming more conscious of their food choices, seeking out locally produced organic foods and reducing meat consumption.
The organic movement, while it may view the crisis in industrial agriculture as an opportunity, also bears an enormous responsibility. In the example of Cuba just cited, the active lobbying of organic agronomists proved crucial. Without that guiding effort on the part of previously marginalized experts, the authorities would have had no way to respond. Now crisis is at hand for the world as a whole. The organic movement has most of the answers that will be needed; however, its message still isn't getting through. Three things will be necessary to change that.
The various strands of the organic movement must come together so that they can speak to national and international policy makers with a unified voice.
The leaders of this newly unified organic movement must produce a coherent plan for a global transition to a post-fossil-fuel food system. Organic farmers and their organizations have been promoting some of the needed policies for decades in a piecemeal fashion. Now, however, there is an acute need for a clearly formulated, comprehensive, alternative national and global food policy, and there is little time to communicate and implement it. It is up to the organic movement to proactively seek out policy makers and promote this coherent alternative, just as it is up to representatives of government at all levels to listen.
I have just called for unity in the organic movement, and to achieve this it will be necessary to address a recent split within the movement. What might be called traditional organic remains focused on small-scale, labour-intensive, local production for local consumption. In contrast to this, the more recently emerging corporate organic model merely removes petrochemicals from production, while maintaining nearly all the other characteristics of the modern industrial food system. This trend may be entirely understandable in terms of the economic pressures and incentives within the food industry as a whole. However, corporate organic has much less to offer in terms of solutions to the emerging crisis. Thus as the various strands of the organic movement come together, they should do so in light of the larger societal necessity. The discussion must move beyond merely gaining market share; it must focus on averting famine under crisis conditions.
To conclude, let me simply restate what is I hope clear by now: Given the fact that fossil fuels are limited in quantity and that we are already in view of the global oil production peak, we must turn to a food system that is less fuel-reliant, even if the process is problematic in many ways. Of course, the process will take time; it is a journey that will take place over decades. Nevertheless, it must begin soon, and it must begin with a comprehensive plan. The transition to a fossil-fuel-free food system does not constitute a distant utopian proposal. It is an unavoidable, immediate, and immense challenge that will call for unprecedented levels of creativity at all levels of society. A hundred years from now, everyone will be eating what we today would define as organic food, whether or not we act. But what we do now will determine how many will be eating, what state of health will be enjoyed by those future generations, and whether they will live in a ruined cinder of a world, or one that is in the process of being renewed and replenished.
1. See Fernand Braudel, The Structures of Everyday Life (New York: Harper & Row, 1982)
2. See Vaclav Smil, Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production (Boston: WIT Press, 2004)
3. David Pimentel, "Constraints on the Expansion of Global Food Supply," Kindell, Henry H. and Pimentel, David. Ambio Vol. 23 No. 3, May 1994. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. http://www.dieoff.com/page36htm
4. See also Roger D. Blanchard, The Future of Global Oil Production: Facts, Figures, Trend and Projections (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2005)
5. Longwell, "The future of the oil and gas industry: past approaches, new challenges," World Energy Vol. 5 #3, 2002 http://www.worldenergysource.com/articles/pdf/longwell_WE_v5n3.pdf
6. Energy Watch Group, "Crude Oil - The Supply Outlook," http://www.energywatchgroup.de/fileadmin/global/pdf/EWG_Oilreport_10-2007.pdf
7. "Oil Supplies Face More Pressure," BBC online, July 9 2007 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6283992.stm
8. Energy Watch Group, "Coal: Resources and Future Production" (April, 2007). http://www.energywatchgroup.org/files/Coalreport.pdf
9. John Vidal, "Global Food Crisis Looms as Climate Change and Fuel Shortages Bite," The Guardian, Nov. 3, 2007 http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/nov/03/food.climatechange
10. Jacques Diouf quoted in John Vidal, op. cit.
13. Peter Apps, "Cost of Food Aid Soars As Global Need Rises, Reuters, October 16 http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnBAN648660.html
14. See Jack Santa Barbara, The False Promise of Biofuels (San Francisco: International Forum on Globalization, 2007)
15. Vidal, op. cit.
16. Lester Brown quoted in Vidal, op. cit.
17. "IMF Concerned by Impact of Biofuels of Food Prices," Industry Week online, October 18, 2007, http://www.industryweek.com/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=15197
18. Ziegler, quoted by George Monbiot http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/11/06/an-agricultural-crime-against-humanity/
19. Monbiot, op. cit.
20. Vidal, op. cit.
21. Vidal, op. cit.
22. Patrick Déry and Bart Anderson, "Peak Phosphorus," http://energybulletin.net/33164.html
24. "Agriculture Consuming World's Water," Geotimes online, June 2007 http://www.geotimes.org/june07/article.html?id=nn_agriculture.html
25. "Unsustainable Development 'Puts Humanity at Risk'," New Scientist online, October 17 2007, http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12834
26. "Between Hungry People and Climate Change, Soils Need Help," Environmental New Service, August 31, 2007, http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2007/2007-08-31-03.asp
27. Celia W. Dugger, "World Bank Puts Agriculture at Center of Anti-Poverty Effort," New York Times, October 20, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com...
28. Stephen Leahy, "Dirt Isn't So Cheap After All," http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39083
29. Ibid.; http://www.worldwatercouncil.org
30. See, for example, William M. Muir, "Potential environmental risks and hazards of biotechnology," http://www.biotech-info.net/potential_risks.html
32. (vol 22, p 86) University of Michigan, July 10, 2007
33. "Organic Agriculture," FAO report, 1999, http://www.fao.org/unfao/bodies/COAG/COAG15/X0075E.htm
35. "Between Hungry People and Climate Change, Soils Need Help," Environmental New Service, August 31, 2007, http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2007/2007-08-31-03.asp
36. FAO, op. cit.
37. F.H. King, Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea and Japan, (New York: Dover Publications, 1911, ed. 2004)
38. The story of how Cuba responded to its oil famine is described in the film, "The Power of Community," http://www.powerofcommunity.org
39. David Strahan, The Last Oil Shock (London: John Murray, 2007), p. 15
40. James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency (Nerw York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005)
41. Matthew Green, "Oakland Looks toward Greener Pastures," Edible East Bay, Spring 2007, http://www.edibleeastbay.com/pages/articles/spring2007/pdfs/oakland.pdf
42. Peter Goodchild, "Agriculture In A Post-Oil Economy," 22 September, 2007
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Editorial Notes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Posted in full because of its importance. This is Museletter #188, also appearing at Richard Heinberg's website and at Global Public Media.
The Oil Depletion Analysis Center (ODAC) in the UK posted further information on this talk and its reception [in] their bulletin, as follows:
On the 22nd November, Richard Heinberg, Peak Oil educator extraordinaire, gave the Soil Association's annual Lady Eve Balfour Memorial Lecture, entitled What Will We Eat When The Oil Runs Out? A lecture outline, short summary of the event on YouTube, full transcript of the lecture and podcast, plus further information on the panel discussion that followed, are available from the Soil Association website.
An ODAC contact, Simon Wheeler, attended the lecture/panel discussion and took some notes on ODAC's behalf. Read Simon's thoughts.
David Strahan interviewed Richard Heinberg at the event. See Localise and go organic to avert post-peak famine - Heinberg (article plus podcast).
The lecture was reported by the UK's largest (by sales) broadsheet newspaper, The Telegraph. The article was in the 'Earth' section of the newspaper: Apocalyptic vision of a post-fossil fuel world. Such a gloomy title does not exactly inspire, as in 'must read', but it is still a pretty good article because it focuses on the positive, what can and must be done to avoid said apocalypse.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Langford’s Bear Mountain Interchange: Urbanization on the Western Frontier and the Blurring of Public and Private Interests
by Ben Isitt
The following report is based on a thorough review of Langford City Council proceedings from January 2000 until December 2007. It draws from regular meetings of council and special meetings, along with selected Committee of the Whole and subcommittee meetings.
It should be noted that in 2003, Langford successfully applied to the province to change its classification from district to city.1 The District of Langford became the City of Langford, embodying the process of urbanization.
In February 1998, land surveyor Danny Carrier prepared a report for Western Forest Products (WFP) on “the development potential of Crown Lands …in the Municipality of
Langford.” Carrier concluded that: “Possible impediments to development of the sites are public opposition, environmental issues and the required funding of off-site services.”2 WFP sought Crown lands in the vicinity of Goldstream Provincial Park for a high-end golf course and residential subdivision. The forest company also proposed a new highway interchange from the Trans-Canada Highway to service the development. Herb Doman, owner of WFP’s parent company, Doman Industries Ltd., wrote to the deputy minister of Environment, Lands and Parks objecting to “further delays.”3 Another WFP official, chief lobbyist Bob Flitton (himself a former deputy minister of lands in the Social Credit government of the 1980s, and today Bear Mountain’s Residential Project Manager) wrote optimistically: “the next step would be for us to have the surveyors ribbon the proposed subdivision boundary.”4
Over the next decade, a series of backroom manouevres and public and private decisions transformed Langford’s Skirt Mountain, elevation 347 metres (1138 feet), into a
Whistler-esque golf resort and subdivision with a projected build-out valued at $2.5billion.5 Forest and wetlands gave way to manicured fairways, a “village centre,” and million-dollar homes. Traffic congestion worsened as development increased. The Bear Mountain Interchange proposal came to the fore.
From Rural Backwater to Urban Centre: Langford, 2000-2001
Bear Mountain must be understood in the context of a rapidly suburbanizing municipality, a formerly rural area that rigorously pursued urban growth in the years after incorporation in 1992. Signs of urbanization were apparent at the opening of the 21st century: the banning of bow hunting in lands south of the Trans-Canada Highway in July 2000; the exclusion of Agricultural Land Reserve lands at Goldstream Meadows and Hull’s Field in 2001; and a raff of infrastructure changes.6 Storm sewers replaced drainage ditches. Wells and septic systems gave way to water and waste-water services provided by the CRD and private West Shore Environmental Services, a Terasen subsidiary. Sidewalks and traffic lights lined Langford’s expanding road and street network.
Part of this rural-to-urban transition was the re-branding of the CRD’s western reaches, from the Western Communities to the more sleek West Shore. In early 2000, Langford accepted an application from the West Shore Chamber of Commerce to rename the new RCMP detachment headquarters building “West Shore RCMP.”7 In June 2001, Langford Council approved West Shore Intermunicipal Commission Bylaw No. 596 (2001), entrenching the re-branding within the structure of local government.8
Development pressures strained existing infrastructure. In July 2001, Langford Council imposed a moratorium on any further rezoning bylaws north of the Trans-Canada
Highway “until the total road improvement costs have been determined…and a funding mechanism is in place to ensure the benefiting property owner have fully contributed to these costs.”9
Langford residents were far from unanimous on the urban transformation of their community. During the debate over Hull’s Field, Langford lawyer Ron MacIsaac – a
veteran of the 1990s battle over Clayoquot Sound – “requested Council to think of the future and to be conservative while making their decision to rezone Hull’s field, as
wetland cannot be replaced.”10 When council considered a Hockley Avenue subdivision in October 2000, a resident of an effected mobile home park, Mr. Larry Jorgensen,
questioned “an $8,000 bribe to allow the development.” Mayor Stewart Young replied that “Council would not listen to any accusations of bribes, as they were totally false.”11
Indeed, Young and other Langford politicians often excused themselves from decisions because of their business interests. As the owner of Alpine Disposal and related waste and recycling companies, Young (who had been elected in 1999) abstained from decisions relating to the new Walmart on Attree Avenue. He declared a conflict of
interest because a company he partly owned rented land from the owner of the future big-box site. In Young’s absence, Langford Council approved OCP amendments, rezoned the land, and issued a development variance permit increasing the allowable signage on each side of the building from 1 to 10 and increasing the square-footage of the freestanding pylon sign from 40 square feet to 164 square feet.12
Even as “greenfield” sprawl intruded on wetland, farmland and forested areas, Langford was not entirely oblivious to ecological concerns. In February 2001, Council adopted the District of Langford Watercourse Protection Bylaw No. 550, 2001, which mandated that: “No person shall discharge silt or other substance harmful to fish, or to aquatic plants or animals on which fish depend, into any stream, creek, waterway, watercourse, ditch or drain.”13 Protective covenants were a regular feature of rezoning bylaws. For example, the OCP amendments that transformed Langford’s southern reaches from A1 (Rural) to CD4 (Comprehensive Development 4) – the Olympic View subdivision – mandated that “the applicant dedicate, prior to bylaw adoption, the identified “hardhack swamp” ecosystem, in its entirety.”14 Earlier that year, a homeowner on Langford Lake was granted a permit to construct a deck and addition in a riparian area, on the condition that a willow tree be planted adjacent to the lake and existing vegetation be retained.15
Important in light of Bear Mountain, on May 7, 2001, Langford council expressed concern over future uses of Western Forest Products (WFP) lands in the Highlands, after
receiving Highlands Bylaws 137, 138, and 149 amending the OCP to allow development in these lands. Langford expressed concern that this “development may have a significant impact on hydrological features and stormwater runoff” and that “fire fighting protection without municipal water service and hydrants may not be adequate.” Langford asked “that Highlands Council consider the opportunities for trails connections that exist between the Highlands and the District of Langford.”16
A month later, Langford directed staff to prepare amendments to the Official Community Plan rezoning what is today known as “Westhills” from Green Belt 1 (GB1) to
Comprehensive Development 1 (CD1), from rural usage to “future neighbourhood.”17 Five months earlier, CRD Parks had proposed purchasing a portion of these lands for
conservation purposes, in a Draft Management Plan for the Sooke Hills Wilderness and Mount Wells Regional Parks forwarded to Langford. Council responded to CRD Parks “that the parcel of land that it is interested in acquiring to the east of Mount Wells Park is shown as Future Neighbourhood in the OCP.”18 However, it appears that at the time Langford sent this letter, the old Green Belt designation remained in force.
The June 2001 OCP amendment coincided with Council’s consideration of the Regional Growth Strategy (2001), the CRD initiative that established an Urban Containment
Boundary. Langford asked the CRD “to amend the Growth Management Strategy” to:
Update/revise the urban containment boundary on Map #3 of the Strategy to reflect Langford’s Official Community Plan and the current applications to amend the Official
Community Plan and that flexibility be incorporated into the urban containment boundary to allow individual municipalities to adjust the boundary.19
A notable feature of Langford’s political process is a tendency to make important land-use decisions during the summer months, when many citizens are away from the
municipality or occupied on more leisurely pursuits. In August 2000, Humpback Road resident Ms. Nitya Harris expressed her displeasure that Council held a hotly contested Hull’s Field public hearing, considering OCP amendments, “during the summer, therefore not allowing concerned residents who may be on holidays to attend.”20
Other summer-time decisions paved the way for “greenfield” sprawl for Slegg Lumber on Sooke Road; big-box retailers such as Home Depot on Millstream Road; the 950-home Olympic View subdivision; Goldstream Meadows; and Westhills, currently under development on the forests slopes below Mount Wells – which received a boost in
density from 5000 to 5900 units after a July 2007 hearing, with no height restrictions.21
As the preceding discussion demonstrates, Langford was opened for business during the mayoralty of Stew Young – and the deputy mayoralty of Denise Blackwell, who
occupied the mayor’s chair more than 30 times between 2002 and 2004 in Young’s absence.22 The sleepy rural backwater re-tooled and re-branded itself as “West Shore’s” up-and-coming urban centre.
Bear Mountain: Land Assembly and Regulatory Change, 2001-2002
The first mention of the Bear Mountain development appears in the January 7, 2002 Langford council minutes, during Stew Young’s inaugural address in the new City Hall
on Goldstream Avenue – marking the start of the municipality’s 10th anniversary.
Young extolled Langford’s achievements in the preceding year: completion of the West Shore RCMP headquarters and Peatt Road Firehall; revitalization of the downtown
including the debt-free City Hall; new parks at Glen Lake, Langford Lake, and Veteran’s Park in the core; a number of road and sewer extensions; the casino cost-sharing
agreement with View Royal, a first of its kind in BC; and the restructuring of the CRD’s Juan de Fuca Parks and Recreation Commission into the quasi-independent West Shore Parks & Recreation Society.
Young concluded that through the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, “we are proposing a new arena…and a private sector driven 18 hole Nicklaus design golf course
north of the Trans Canada Highway.”23 At the end of the meeting, Young presented his 2002 Awards of Distinction to citizens including Les Bjola, president of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce; Mike Gibbons, of the Victoria Contracting and Municipal Maintenance Corporation; and Terry Ross, publisher of the Goldstream News Gazette.
While Young identified private interests as the motive force behind the new development, events before and after suggest that public decisions were integral to the evolution of what would become the Bear Mountain Golf Club and Resort.
In the six months preceding Young’s announcement, a flurry of back-room deals had sealed the fate of Skirt Mountain, Langford’s highest peak and home to dozens of
aboriginal heritage sites, endangered Garry Oak and Arbutus habitat, and wetlands and watercourses feeding Florence Lake and the Langford Lake aquifer.24
In July 2001, three years of quiet negotiations between Western Forest Products (WFP) and the BC Ministry of the Environment’s Crown Land Unit culminated in the transfer of 101 hectares of Crown land in Langford and Highlands to WFP for the modest sum of $1.051-million. The province also received 170 hectares of surplus forest lands on northern Vancouver Island for park purposes and a 10-hectare slice of rocky outcropping adjacent to Mount Finlayson.25 The chief player in these negotiations was WFP lobbyist Bob Flitton, a Highlands resident and former deputy minister of forests and lands in the Bill Bennett and William Vander Zalm Social Credit governments.26
In December 2001, WFP’s new Skirt Mountain holdings were transferred to LGB9, the Bear Mountain Development Group, a conglomerate of real-estate investors and former NHL hockey players headed by former Florida Panthers’ “enforcer” Len G. Barrie.27 Also in December 2001, another significant parcel of Skirt Mountain – the 100-hectare “Goudy Lands” that were protected in the Forest Land Reserve (FLR), moved closer to the LGB9 orbit. Langford councilor John Goudy and his sisters owned these forested lands, which had belonged to their family since the 1950s and included the summit of Miniskirt Mountain. In the 1980s, the Goudys had received federal-provincial
silvaculture subsidies to increase the forestry potential of the property. The “Goudy Lands” were divided between the siblings but included under the Forest Land Reserve
Act in 1994, which mandated that: “A parcel, all or part of which is private forest reserve land other than Crown license land must not be subdivided….”28 Beginning in 1997 and continuing for the next four years, John Goudy and his sisters lobbied the Land Reserve Commission for the exclusion of a portion of these lands from the FLR. However, the Commission rejected these applications, concluding in April 2001 that (1) “forestry can be practiced” on the land; (2) “removal and subsequent subdivision would negatively impact” surrounding FLR lands; (3) previous investment in forestry “would be lost.”29
In December 2001, as the closing date for the WFP-LGB9 deal approached, Bob Flitton e-mailed former Social Credit colleague Stan Hagen, Minister of Sustainable Resource Management, requesting Hagen’s “urgent” assistance (see Appendix C). Flitton wrote that “we stand to jeopardize a $7.5 million business deal” unless the Land Reserve Commission provided a “comfort letter” by 28 December 2001 assuring that a portion of the “Goudy Lands” would be removed from the FLR: “Bottom line is we need someone who is authorized to act and we need it quickly. This may be the Minister or the Deputy Minister.” According to maps received from the Land Reserve Commission, the FLR land was needed for the right-of-way for the Bear Mountain Parkway, the sole route up Skirt Mountain (see Appendix E). Two days after Flitton’s e-mail, Kirk Miller, chairperson of the Land Reserve Commission – who was out of the province at the time – provided the “comfort letter.”30
With the road allowance through the FLR assured, the WFP-LGB9 transaction closed on December 28, 2001, for a price Flitton pegged at $7.5-million.31
Langford Mayor Stew Young acknowledged the Bear Mountain proposal a week after the deal closed and presented an Award of Distinction to Les Bjola, president of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce and a lead consultation for LGB9 through his Turner Lane Development Corporation. On January 21, 2002, council received a letter from Turner Lane, on behalf of LGB9, requesting a burning permit for sections 81, 82, 83, and 84, and voted to disband the district Wildfire Interface Committee.32 In April, it adopted development permit guidelines for interface fire hazards.33
As land-clearing proceeded on Skirt Mountain, increased traffic on Millstream Road immediately gave rise to concern. In February 2002, Mayor Young provided a verbal
report on a “blind spot” between the Bear Mountain access and Goldie Road, prompting the installation of traffic warning signs on Millstream – at Langford’s expense.34
That month, Langford delegate Denise Blackwell voted against the Regional Growth Strategy at the CRD Board, and at their next meeting councilors unanimously approved a resolution from John Goudy declaring that “Langford Council no longer supports the Regional Growth Strategy, as it is far too expensive.” A second resolution, moved by
Blackwell, instructed the mayor to write to the BC Minister responsible for local government, suggesting the province “establish controls on the CRD Board,” and expressing council’s view that “it has sufficient local planning in our own municipal staff without the wasting of additional funds for regional planning resources and that the Langford Council has a record of quality and balanced growth in our municipality.”35
In April 2002, Council received a rezoning application from LGB9, for “Bear Mountain Estates” on Skirt Mountain. Council directed staff to prepare bylaws amending the OCP and rezoning the property from GB2 (Green Belt 2) to “a new Comprehensive Development Zone,” subject to the following conditions:
• Residential development be limited to 1500 units, including a maximum 610 single-family units;
• LGB9 extend CRD Water to the property and covenant that private green spaces are retained as green spaces;
• No development proceed until “Crown Land to the west of the subject property is added to Goldstream Park”;
• Langford receive “a gift” of one hectare of land or a building in the “village centre”
• Development be limited “to the golf course/clubhouse facility and either 400 single family residential dwelling units or 700 multi-family residential dwellings units, until a new north/south road that joins the subject property directly to the Trans-Canada Highway is constructed and operational.”
A new highway interchange and access road up Skirt Mountain’s southern slope was integral to the Bear Mountain plan. LGB9 was required to “pay for a detailed study, to
determine alignment options and costs” and “secure rights of way for the new north-south route.” LGB9 was also required to contribute (at the time of subdivision or building
permit) $5,000 per residential or hotel unit, and $2 per square foot of commercial space, “towards the design and construction of the new north-south route connector to the
LGB9 contributed funds to assist with the administrative costs of rezoning Skirt Mountain.37 Council gave By-laws No. 669 and 670 first and second reading on 6 May
2002, and after an uncontested hearing on 14 May rezoned Skirt Mountain from Green Belt 1 to Comprehensive Development Zone 6 (Bear Mountain).38 Councillor John
Goudy absented himself, citing a conflict of interest relating to his ownership of the adjacent property. Bear Mountain was born, along with plans for a new connector from
the Trans-Canada Highway up Skirt Mountain.
A Transportation Crisis that Langford Created
The ambitious plans for Skirt Mountain foreshadowed conflict over infrastructure expansion and transportation planning. Intense commercial development at the base of
Skirt Mountain, in the vicinity of the Millstream Road “power centre” plaza, contributed to gridlock that worsened as Bear Mountain grew.
The Millstream traffic problem was apparent in 2001. At an April 2001 public hearing on expansion of the Millstream power centre, Councillor Lanny Seaton responded to
concern over increased traffic, stating that access from Millstream to the peculiar residential subdivision on Sunshine Terrace would be closed as development proceeded –
a move that never occurred. Mayor Young advised that sidewalks would eventually be installed “all the way up Millstream Road to Treanor Road.”39 During a July 2001 vote,
Councillor Heather Ashton was the only member of council to oppose the Millstream power centre expansion.40
In November 2001, further expansion was considered. A representative of Millstream Properties Inc., developer of the mall east of Millstream, acknowledged that “a major
concern…is the impact of increased traffic,” and endorsed the expansion of Millstream Road to six lanes, which Council approved.41 Selwyn Road resident Marylou Patterson spoke against the rezoning, “suggesting the development would be a haven for shoppers coming from other municipalities, creating traffic congestion on Millstream, in addition to noise pollution impacting the residential neighbourhoods.” Despite these concerns, Langford council approved the Millstream East project.42
In January 2002, the Millstream power centre was again considered by council. A Skedans Road resident, Ken Lavert, and several others, opposed a development variance
permit to allow access from Millstream to a new McDonald’s restaurant and Home Depot. Lavert cited “safety concerns with the volume of traffic that will be created from
McDonalds, which is located on a quiet residential street.” Again, Council disregarded citizens’ objections and approved direct access from Millstream to the fast-food outlet and big-box retailer.43
The rapid development of Bear Mountain in 2002-2003 intensified the Millstream Road transportation problem. In spring 2003, Langford assumed the lead role in the
construction of the Bear Mountain Parkway and a sewer line up Skirt Mountain.44 This required an elaborate agreement with the District of Highlands, as a portion of the road and sewer line ran through the Highlands, and the adoption of legislation to permit Langford to establish services outside its municipal boundary.45 Langford approved in June and July 2003 Phase 1 of Bear Mountain, consisting of a secondary road and 42-unit residential subdivision. Langford also offered its “unconditional support” for an
application to the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to extend the hours of operation of the new Bear Mountain Club House restaurant to 1:00 a.m. daily.46 In
August 2003, Langford introduced omnibus amendments to the Official Community Plan exempting Bear Mountain from development permit requirements.47
In October 2003, Langford council approved “preliminary project lists” for road development in the municipality, including the proposed connector “from the southerly
Bear Mountain property boundary to the Trans Canada Highway” and Millstream Road improvements.”48 A month later, council noted that “development is proceeding much
more rapidly than originally contemplated,” and drafted OCP amendments mandating that Skirt Mountain lands be set aside for school purposes for 10 years, rather than the 20 years contemplated in the original bylaw. It also revised the formula for LGB9’s cost contribution to the TCH connector and Millstream Road improvements – foreshadowing the deferment of the $5,000/unit fee the following spring.49
These OCP amendments and rezoning bylaws were approved following a public hearing in November 2003. LGB9’s allowable density increased from 1500 to 2200 units and
300,000 to 400,000 square feet of commercial floor space. Buildings more than five storeys in height were also permitted under the zoning changes, which stipulated no
height limit. One speaker at the hearing, Alf Mathews of Goldstream Avenue, questioned whether tall buildings were more appropriate in Langford’s downtown core rather than on its forested periphery. Municipal planner Rob Buchan responded that “there were benefits to the environment as clustering density results in a smaller footprint.” Buchan cited plans for a 60-room hotel. Les Bjola, who presented the LGB9 application, said the project was in Year 7 of the development projections despite the fact it had only been underway for one year. Bjola anticipated the need for a second access road to the new “westerly” TCH connector.50
The cost of the new TCH connector was pegged at $38-million in a Langford staff report in December 2003, with an additional $3.6-million required to extend the parkway from the Bear Mountain Village Centre to the project boundary. Langford councillors included this work in the project lists for the North TCH Roads Development Cost Charge.51 In September 2004, council relaxed the traffic covenants that had limited Bear Mountain’s growth, allowing “Bear Mountain development approvals on a phase by phase basis” provided construction on the Bear Mountain Parkway “continues at a pace that will ensure, to the satisfaction of the City Engineer, that it will be ready in time to deal with the additional traffic generated.”52
In December 2004, Langford council once again approved land-use changes that implied increased traffic pressures. Council endorsed amendments to the CRD’s Regional Growth Strategy, to allow LGB9 to install services and increase density on 202 hectares of land it owned in the Highlands, a traditionally anti-growth municipality.53 According to a Highlands staff report, the BC Ministry of Transportation believed the new Trans-Canada Highway interchange “should be completed prior to construction” on LGB9’s Highlands lands. Staff concurred, recommending that the traffic problem be addressed “before significant construction on the [LGB9] proposal commences.”54
In January 2005, Bob Flitton was appointed to Highlands’ Infrastructure committee and played a role in the Were You Aware newsletter that helped tip the balance in the
November 2005 Highlands election, which saw a pro-development majority edge out conservationists including Mayor Karel Roessingh.55 In February 2006, Flitton told the
CRD Planning and Protective Services Committee that the traffic problems caused by Bear Mountain expansion “will be resolved by a road through [the] Bear Mountain
development to the island highway.”56
The Bear Mountain Interchange
In January 2005, Langford council had approved the Bear Mountain Parkway/Trans-Canada Highway Interchange as the top priority for infrastructure funding, applying for
$8-million in grants.57 The next month, the “TCH Interchange” was included in the city’s 5-year capital plan, which anticipated $1-million in spending in 2007, $5-million in 2008, and $5-million in 2009.58 At the same meeting, council received without action a letter from View Royal regarding a proposed interchange at McKenzie Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway, the third highest car crash site on Vancouver Island.59 In May 2005, Langford council agreed to cover one-third the cost of the “Bear Mountain Interchange,” as the minutes described it, and revised spending forecasts to $3-million in 2006, $8million in 2007, and $1-million in 2008. Council applied for a Canada-British Columbia Infrastructure Grant for the project.60
Throughout 2005 and 2006, Langford and LGB9 intensified pressure for federal and provincial funds for the interchange project. In May 2005, Len Barrie mailed pamphlets
to thousands of homes in the Malahat-Juan de Fuca and Saanich South electoral constituencies, urging voters against electing anti-development (read: NDP) candidates.
Despite this pressure, the opposition party swept all South Island seats with the exception of affluent Oak Bay and North Saanich.61 During the federal election campaign in January 2006, the outgoing Liberal Party of Canada pledged $5-million in federal funding toward the interchange, as part of its “Made-in-BC” agenda.62 In March 2006,
LGB9 project manager Les Bjola told the Victoria News that the interchange was essential for the “ultimate build-out” of Bear Mountain.63 Meanwhile, Langford
purchased private homes along Leigh Road in anticipation of the Interchange project.64
Ironically, in light of many land-use decisions, the Liberal government of British Columbia provided a voice of restraint in discussions over the Bear Mountain
Interchange. In March 2006, John Horgan, New Democratic Party MLA for Malahat-Juan de Fuca (which includes Bear Mountain), demanded provincial money for the
interchange, describing Bear Mountain as “a fantastic place… a good thing for my community”:
I can start with the Bear Mountain interchange, a classic opportunity for this government to embrace a P3. There's federal money, there's municipal money, and there's private money. Where's the province? Nowhere to be seen — it’s in an NDP riding. In fact, the proponent, no supporter of mine, sent mail to every one of my constituents, spreading misinformation about the New Democratic Party and its role and function in society. Yet here I am, standing in this place defending him and his request for provincial assistance so that we can have an interchange so that the economic development that’s taking place at Bear Mountain can continue.
It's a fantastic place. I encourage the members opposite to take a drive up to Bear Mountain and look at the economic development going on there. It’s not because of the
policies of this government. It’s because of low interest rates, it’s because of the beautiful view of the south Island, and it’s because investors took a chance. They took a chance, and they’re making millions, and that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for my community; it’s a good thing for this province.65
Two months later, in May 2006, Horgan again demanded provincial money for the interchange, informing the legislature that: “What seems to be missing is a one-quarter
contribution from the province.”66 Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon responded:
The interchange largely benefits the developer. They’re creating all the traffic as a result of their development. Therefore, they would like to see an interchange, and therefore, most of the benefit will go to the developer….We will require the developer to pay most, if not all, of the costs. You know, they'll make all the arguments — right? “Gee, it creates all this great economic development. Taxpayers should get into this,” and blah, blah, blah. I remind them that this is not a government that’s in the business of subsidizing business and that we will look at every project on this basis: is there a benefit for the Trans-Canada?67
In spring 2005, Bear Mountain’s projected traffic needs had increased, when John Goudy and his wife sold what was left of the former Forest Land Reserve lands for $1.25 million, entering into a mortgage with LGB9 at a 12.5% annual rate of return. The mortgage agreement also provided a $10,000 bonus to Goudy for every lot sold: “Upon Subdivision of the Land into residential or commercial lots the Borrower (LGB9) will pay the Lender (John and Helen Goudy) the sum of $10,000.00 up the sale of each lot sold by the Borrower.”68 A year earlier, John Goudy’s sister, Elizabeth Booth of Vancouver, had appeared before Langford council to protest signage and the road allowance for the Bear Mountain Parkway, which cut through her former property and was located in an Environmental Permit area. “The road dedication process is questionable,” Booth told council, objecting to “the amount of [Langford] land that had been given.”69
The former Goudy lands were incorporated into Bear Mountain’s Comprehensive Development “CD6” zone at a 21 June 2005 public hearing, with bylaws 943 and 944,
increasing LGB9’s development ceiling from 2200 to 2983 units. At the hearing, developer Les Bjola said Bear Mountain had “been very diligent in protecting the
sensitive ecological areas.” However, Langford resident Scott Livingstone argued that “this type of development will scar our landscape” and result in “the logging of Mini and
Skirt Mountain.” Mr. Livingstone told council his family had lived in Langford for 75 years and sold property to the Ministry of Highways “for $1 to preserve as greenbelt.”70
Proposed development on the southern slopes of Skirt Mountain increased pressure for an interchange. Langford approved land-use changes in 2005 for properties at 2690 and 2695 Savory Road, directing staff to stipulate in the Savory bylaw: “That no building permits shall be issued until the new TCH interchange west of Savory is complete unless approved by the City Engineer taking into account the capacity of the existing road network and the owners contribution to the construction costs of the road connecting Spencer to the east end of the Bear Mountain Mountain Parkway.”71 Langford’s Official Community Plan was amended at a 19 May 2005 public hearing to allow 597 residential units, 15,000 square feet of retail space, 100,000 square feet of office space, and 150 hotel rooms on the Savory property, owned by Ms. Clara Kramer.72 A storm-water study for the area noted that: “Ultimately, upgrading at the new Bear Mountain Interchange may redirect flows westerly along the TCH [toward the Langford Lake basin and Goldstream River]…rather than…southerly into Spencer Pond.”73
Planning for the Bear Mountain Interchange proceeded. In February 2006, Langford council – re-elected in November 2005 elections – approved $750,000 for design and
project management for “Bear Mountain Interchange Design Development,” including environmental, geotechnical, and survey work. The motion was seconded by John Goudy who stood to receive $10,000 for every unit sold on his former Skirt Mountain property.74
Underscoring the importance of the interchange – and revealing a shift in language that downplayed Bear Mountain’s role – council passed a motion in May 2006 directing staff to “advise new applicants for developments north of the Trans Canada Highway that Council does not wish to receive or approve any further applications until such time as the Spencer Road Interchange has been secured.” Those development application already submitted to the City “may be tabled until such time as the costs and funding for the Spencer Road Interchange have been secured.”75
However, in July 2006, Langford council approved two new zoning bylaws that allowed for further density at Bear Mountain. When two Langford residents questioned this move, Mayor Stuart Young insisted that “the new developments would not begin until the Spencer Road Interchange is completed…. The Mayor explained the interchange will be paid for by area developers and therefore they need to know that the development potential exists before paying for the interchange/overpass.”76 In September, Langford council formally imposed a moratorium on all residential zoning north of the highway, “until an agreement has been reached by all parties that would result in the completion of the Bear Mountain Parkway and Interchange.”77
Back in 2002, Mayor Stew Young had awarded Les Bjola, on behalf of LGB9, his Mayor’s Award of Distinction Environmental Stewardship Award.78 However LGB9
proceeded to bulldoze the natural features of Skirt Mountain – literally and figuratively. The company applied for a development variance permit in March 2004 to reduce the
required setback from a watercourse from 30 metres to one metre – to allow for the siteing of the Bear Mountain Clubhouse on riparian habitat.79 LGB9 also embraced the
practice of “terra-forming,” blasting and leveling natural contours to create uniform terraces for building sites, described as “mountain-top removal” in environmental circles.
By 2006, the first 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course had opened along with the Bear Mountain Westin Hotel, the village centre, and several hundred homes. A second Nicklaus course was under construction on the Highlands parcel, described by Les Bjola as a “wilderness golf course” and “the opportunity of a lifetime” for the municipality.80 The Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission approved construction of a pump station, pipeline and second reservoir for Bear Mountain at elevation 320 metres, to allow for further upland development.81
As development crept toward the Skirt Mountain summit, a group of local First Nations said no.
First Nations Stand, 2006
“If we want to blow up a cave and put up a hotel, we will.”82
-Len Barrie, as quoted in Times Colonist, 25 May 2006
In 2006, Bear Mountain was catapulted into the public spotlight when members of the Songhees and Tsartlip First Nations objected to the planned destruction of a cave near the Skirt Mountain summit, which they considered sacred. The mountain they called SPAET had been a gathering place, a “shared place,” for indigenous people from across the south island for centuries or more. Discussion of ceremonial practices are considered taboo by coastal First Nations, but the general contours saw family groups gather for weeks at a time to hunt, bath, and engage in other spiritual activities.
On May 24, 2006, Cheryl Bryce, lands manager of the Songhees First Nation, issued a media release warning that continued failure to consult First Nations on cultural sites considered sacred would result in a blockade of the Bear Mountain development. Bryce specifically mentioned the cave near the Skirt Mountain summit, which contained a large subterranean lake.
Throughout summer and autumn 2006, Bryce attempted to dissuade LGB9 and Langford from developing in the vicinity of the cave, but these efforts were in vain. The BC
Archeology Branch of the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts approved excavation work in November 2006, ostensibly to determine its archeological value: “There is often the situation with archeology where, to preserve the information, you in fact have to destroy the site,” Archeology Branch director Justine Batten told the Times Colonist.83 Bryce and other First Nations responded by hiking up the backside of Skirt Mountain before sunrise on November 16, 2006, establishing a blockade at the cave entrance, hours before heavy machinery arrived at the site.
Work halted for the next month.
LGB9 responded quickly and aggressively, sending 125 construction workers to intimidate the First Nations protesters and suing Bryce and the Songhees and Tsartlip
chiefs and bands for $1-million in damages. A provincial judge postponed the action pending the outcome of high-level discussions between federal and provincial Aboriginal
Affairs ministers and Langford, LGB9, and First Nations representatives. During these discussions, which excluded Bryce and proceeded behind closed doors under the
direction of RCMP officer John Brewer, Langford and LGB9 sought to woo First Nations leaders with the promise of a casino atop Skirt Mountain. The casino idea promised
much-needed jobs for First Nations facing high on-reserve unemployment – and jelled with Langford’s long-held aspiration for a casino within its borders. This casino proposal was leaked to the press, in the form of a draft Agreement in Principle.84
In the controversy that followed, Tsartlip and the Sen’co’ten Alliance walked away from the negotiating table, demanding consultation on all future development at Skirt
Mountain and elsewhere on the South Island.85 Songhees Chief Robert Sam, however, signed an amended agreement with LGB9, Langford, and the province. Sam appeared at a media conference with Barrie, at the Bear Mountain Club House, arguing that the cave had “served its purpose.”86 The agreement with the Songhees allegedly included Provincial Capital Commission land in the vicinity of the proposed Bear Mountain Interchange site.87
In February 2007, the Victoria Times Colonist quoted Langford Mayor Stewart Young to the effect that construction on the Bear Mountain Interchange would begin within six
months: “I think we’re 99 per cent there,” Young said.88 Talks with the province were “progressing well,” he claimed, though no formal agreement had been reached. Believing a decision on the project was imminent, citizens associated with a group called the Coalition to Protect Goldstream Watershed erected a “Tree Sit” in a mature cedar tree in the path of the proposed interchange, establishing a permanent protest camp.89 In May, when a Langford building crew attempted to move heavy machinery toward the site, protesters successfully blocked their path, vowing to protect a 40-metre long cave in the area.90 Tsartlip Chief Chris Tom visited the site to lend support. Sensing that public opinion reflected this environmental concern, the City of Langford publicly directed its engineers to “go green” with the interchange and re-route the project around the Langford Lake Cave.91 Earlier, an Archeological Impact Assessment commissioned by the city had avoided any examination of the large limestone cave, citing “safety issues and First Nations concerns with these type of features.”92 An Environmental Assessment prepared by the same firm, Golder Associates, similarly avoided consideration of environmentally and culturally significant features in the area.93 In July, Langford expropriated the property at 2752 Leigh Road to make way for the interchange.94
An uneasy standoff settled in, with the Coalition to Protect Goldstream Watershed lobbying the provincial government and Provincial Capital Commission, the entity that
oversaw the Trans-Canada corridor and had leased land to Langford for the interchange. Meanwhile, throughout the Capital Regional District, citizens voiced opposition to the proposed amendments to the Urban Containment Boundary to allow for Bear Mountain’s expansion into the Highlands.95 In November, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Highways quietly announced $5-million in provincial funding for the interchange. The City of Langford declared that land clearing and road building were imminent. The protesters expanded the number of platforms in the forest. The outcome of these overlapping developments remains to be seen.
Chronology of Bear Mountain Development
The following is a chronology of major government decisions and private transactions related to the Bear Mountain development in Langford, BC.
1998-2001 – Discussions between Western Forest Products, the Government of British Columbia Crown Grants Unit, and LGB9 (Len G. Barrie's development group, a
consortium of real-estate developers and current and former NHL hockey players), proceed over the proposed Bear Mountain Golf Course and Subdivision on Skirt
Mountain (elevation 347 metres/1138 feet) in Langford, BC.
Skirt Mountain is located on the edge of the Capital Regional District's Urban Containment Boundary, in the northwest corner of the City of Langford bordering
Goldstream Provincial Park, the District of Highlands, and the Trans-Canada Highway.
10 April 2001 – The BC Land Reserve Commission rejects an application from Langford municipal councilor John Goudy and his sisters, requesting the removal of Forest
Land Reserve lands on Skirt Mountain. The Commission bases its decision on the grounds that that (1) "forestry can be practiced" on the land; (2) “removal and
subsequent subdivision would negatively impact” surrounding FLR lands; (3) previous investment in forestry "would be lost."
16 May 2001 – The BC Liberal party wins a general election and forms the government of British Columbia.
14 July 2001 – The provincial Crown Grants Unit grants 44 hectares of Crown land on Skirt Mountain to Western Forest Products for $1.05-million. This land is
adjacent to Goldstream Provincial Park, in Sections 81 and 84, Highlands Land District.
September-November 2001 – Western Forest Products and the Goudy family continue to lobby the Land Reserve Commission for the exclusion of FLR lands (“the
Goudy lands”) on Skirt Mountain, the location of the proposed Bear Mountain Parkway – the sole access route to the proposed resort.
19 December 2001 – WFP lobbyist Robert Flitton (a former Deputy Minister of Lands under Vander Zalm) emails Stan Hagen, minister of Sustainable Resource
Management, requesting Hagen’s “urgent” assistance. Flitton writes that a “$7.5million business transaction” would be “jeopardized” unless the Land Reserve
Commission provides a “comfort letter” by 28 December 2001 assuring that the Goudy lands would be removed from the FLR: “Bottom line is we need someone
who is authorized to act and we need it quickly. This may be the Minister or the Deputy Minister."
21 December 2001 – Two days following Flitton’s request, BC Land Reserve Commission chairperson Kirk Miller, who was away from Vancouver at the time,
provides a letter to an associate of LGB9 confirming that an application to remove Forest Reserve Lands on Skirt Mountain "is supportable."
28 December 2001 – The former Crown land adjacent to Goldstream Park and several hundred hectares of WFP's private forest land on Skirt Mountain are transferred to
LGB9 for the reported price of $7.5-million. It appears that the exclusion of FLR lands for the Bear Mountain Parkway was a condition of this transaction.
28 March 2002 - The Land Reserve Commission officially approves the exclusion of the Skirt Mountain lands from the Forest Land Reserve, citing "the direction given by
government regarding the elimination of FLR following the core services review." However the Forest Land Reserve Act remains in force (it would not be repealed
until August 2003). Section 16(1) reads: "A parcel, all or part of which is private forest reserve land other than Crown license land must not be subdivided...."
14 May 2002 - The District of Langford re-zones LGB9 property on Skirt Mountain from GB1 (Greenbelt 1) to a new CD6 (Comprehensive Development 6 – Bear
Mountain) Zone, capping growth at 1500 units until a second access route is build to the Trans-Canada Highway. Construction begins.
2002-2006 – The Bear Mountain Parkway is built through the former Forest Land Reserve lands, while the remainder of the Goudy lands are removed from the
FLR and sold to LGB9 for subdivision and development. Farther up Skirt Mountain, a Jack Nichlaus-designed 18-hole golf course is built on the former
Crown lands and WFP lands, along with a village centre of shops, condominiums, and a Westin hotel. Representatives of Langford, the City of Victoria, and the
Government of BC attend the grand opening of the Westin. Several hundred luxury homes are built on terra-formed platforms where Garry Oak and Arbutus
meadows once stood overlooking Greater Victoria.
Spring 2006 – Langford purchases private homes along Leigh Road in anticipation of the Bear Mountain Interchange project.
24 May 2006 – The lands manager for the Songhees First Nation, Cheryl Bryce, demands protection of a cave that is considered sacred near the summit of Skirt
Mountain, which indigenous people call SPAET. Bear Mountain CEO Len Barrie tells the Victoria Times Colonist: “If we want to blow up a cave and put up a hotel
July 2006 – The Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission approves a request from Bear Mountain for construction of a second reservoir at an elevation of 320
metres, to allow for increased development near the Skirt Mountain summit.
November 2006 – the BC Archeology Branch approves the excavation of the cave, claiming it must be dismantled in order to ascertain its archeological value. An
employee of the Archeology Branch, CRD chair Denise Blackwell, serves as a Langford City Councillor and has voted in favour of LGB9 development permits. No conflict of interest is declared.
16 November 2006 – Bryce, along with the lands manager of the Tsartlip First Nations and other local First Nations, object to the Archeology Branch's cave ruling,
insisting that the site is sacred and work must stop. Several First Nations protesters establish a blockade at the entrance to the cave.
17 November 2006 – LGB9 sues Bryce, Songhees First Nation, Tsartlip First Nation, Songhees Chief Robert Sam, and Tsartlip Chief Chris Tom, and requests an
injunction allowing work to proceed. However a judge adjourns the proceedings pending negotiations between the federal and provincial ministers of aboriginal
affairs, LGB9, the Songhees, Tsartlip, and Sencothen Alliance. A 14-day truce is agreed to with RCMP sergeant John Brewer appointed as mediator. Barrie
reportedly pledges to protect the cave.
1 December 2006 – A draft agreement is leaked to the media suggesting that First Nations leaders have approved destruction of the cave in exchange for a casino,
land, cash, and commemoration of First Nations heritage at Bear Mountain. Brewer denies that a deal has been reached: “Nothing has been agreed to.” Since 2000, Langford Mayor Stew Young has coveted a casino for his municipality, after losing out to View Royal when the Great Canadian Casino was relocated.
13 December 2006 - Songhees Chief Robert Sam appears at a press conference with Len Barrie at the Bear Mountain Westin, announcing a revised agreement (which
does not mention a casino) and declaring: “Maybe this cave has served its purpose and maybe its time to move on.” Tsartlip Chief Chris Tom, however, walks away
from the table, vowing to oppose any development in the region that lacks consultation with First Nations. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs publicly endorses the Tsartlip position.
LGB9 and the City of Langford are currently lobbying the Province of British Columbia for funds, regulatory approval, and Provincial Capital Commission lands for a highway
Interchange (the Bear Mountain Interchange, also known as Spencer Road Interchange). This interchange would connect the Trans-Canada Highway near Goldstream Provincial Park to a second access road up Skirt Mountain. Since April 2007, a group a protesters have occupied the interchange site.
Compiled from BC Land Titles searches, City of Langford council proceedings, media reports, and Freedom of Information Requests to the BC Minister of Environment, Minister of Forests and Range, Minister of Tourism, Sport and the Arts, Provincial Capital Commission, and City of Langford. Supporting documentation available upon request.
Bob Flitton e-mail to Al Delisle, 1 November 2000
SOURCE: Land Reserve Commission FOI release, February 2007.
Bob Flitton e-mail to Stan Hagen, 19 December 2001
SOURCE: Land Reserve Commission FOI release, February 2007.
Map of Skirt Mountain land assembly, 2001
*Parcels in dark border specify Crown Land grant to Western Forest Products Note: additional Crown lands granted to WFP near Millstream Road
‘Private Land in Forest Land Reserve’ (‘Goudy Lands’) ‘Skirt Mountain – Future Park’ – promised but not designated
Forest Land Reserve lands (“Goudy Lands”) showing Bear Mountain Parkway road allowance
SOURCE: Land Reserve Commission FOI release, February 2007.
1 “Change in Municipal Classification – Staff Report (File No. 0112-03),” Langford council minutes (hereafter Minutes), 5 May 2003, Langford Council Proceedings < www.cityoflangford.ca >. In January 2004, Langford received a congratulatory letter from the Member of Parliament for the area, Keith Martin, “regarding Langford becoming a city,” and a similar letter from the West Shore Chamber of Commerce. Minutes, 5 January 2004;
2 February 2004.2 D.L. Carrier to WCL Developments Ltd., 10 February 1998, p. 3. FOI MoE 2007.01
3 H.S. Doman to Cassie J. Doyle, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, 10 March 1998. FOI MoE 2007.01.
4 Bob Flitton to Mike McGrenere, Al Delisle, and Dave Chater, BC Crown Lands Unit, 8 April 1998. FOI MoE 2007.01.
5 “The Story of Vancouver Island’s Bear Mountain Resort,” Cybergolf (2007) < http://www.cybergolf.com>
6 Bow hunting was banned at the 17 July 2000 council meeting, on the recommendation of the Protective Services committee, eliciting support of Humpback Road residents but vocal complaints from several sportsmen. A heated council meeting on 15 May 2000 approved the removal of Hull’s Field from the Agricultural Land Reserve and directed staff to prepare OCP amendments and a development agreement. Acting Mayor Denise Blackwell said at the time that the owner had offered “52% of his property to be preserved, plus, he will spend his money enhancing the dedicated wetland.” The removal of Hull’s Field and Goldstream Meadows from the ALR was mentioned in a 18 June 2001 council resolution requesting amendments to the CRD’s Regional Growth Strategy to expand the area available for development in Langford. Minutes, 15 May 2000; 17 July 2000; 18 June 2001.
7 Minutes, 21 February 2000; 3 April 2000. In April 2000, a majority of councilors defeated a motion from councilors Maxwell and Ashton declining the proposed name change by a vote of 2-5; the majority promptly approved the change 5-2. 8 Bylaw 596 was amended at a peculiar 15-minute-long Special Council meeting, convened at the Olympic View Golf Course, on 18 July 2001. See Minutes, 18 June 2001 and 18 July 2001. Also 7 August 2001.9 Minutes, 16 July 2001.10 Minutes, 15 May 2000.
11 Minutes, 16 October 2000 ; also 15 May 2000.
12 Minutes, 18 June 2001, 19 February 2001, 17 April 2001.
13 District of Langford Watercourse Protection Bylaw No. 550, 2001; Minutes, 5 February 2001.
14 Minutes, 16 July 2001.
15 Minutes, 22 May 2001.
16 Minutes, 7 May 2001.
17 Minutes, 18 June 2001.
18 Minutes, 15 January 2001.
19 Minutes, 18 June 2001.
20 Minutes, 16 August 2000. Special Council Meeting.
21 Minutes, 5 September 2000, 18 June 2001, 16 July 2001, 30 August 2004, 30 July 2007.
22 Between January 2002 and December 2004, Young was absent from 38 council meetings, including 18 in 2003 alone. Blackwell was absent from 8 meetings between 2002 and 2004. Minutes, January 2002 to December 2004.23 Minutes, 7 January 2002.
24 Sylvia Kenny, Aquifers in the Capital Regional District, prepared for Capital Regional District, December 2004, p. 79.
25 See documents released by BC Ministry of Environment pursuant to Freedom of Information Request No. MoE07.001, August 2007.26 For earlier land-use controversy involving Bob Flitton, see Hansard, Official Report of Debates of the Legislative Assembly, 14 July 1987; 17 May 1988; 29 March 1989; 6 April 1989; see also 22 September 1983. In 1983, opposition leader Bob Skelly identified Flitton as National President of the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada (today the Canadian
Home Builders Association). In 1988, NDP MLA Bob Williams told that legislature that Flitton was “a Socred hak who was then made deputy minister,” a vice-president of the Social Credit party in Kamloops and former executive member in Prince George. In March 1989, Williams said: “For those with good memories – there are not a lot of us in this province – Mr. Flitton was one of the campaign managers on the campaign plane for Bill Bennett at an earlier stage of the game. On the basis of those and I guess other qualifications, he became Deputy Minister….” Flitton occupied this position as controversy arose over the granting of Crown lands for the Songhees Point development in Victoria and the Riverview and Westwood Plateau developments in the Lower Mainland. In the late 1980s, he was at the centre of controversy over the relaxing of appertency requirements for a Tree Farm License granted to Doman Industries, parent company of WFP, which hired Flitton as its Government Affairs Manager (chief lobbyist) when Social Credit was voted out of office. Flitton worked for WFP/Doman until 2004, appearing before Canadian Senate hearings on the softwood lumber dispute. In 2004, he was hired as Residential Project Manager for Bear Mountain.
27 Len Barrie played a total of 184 games in the NHL, scoring 19 goals and 45 points with 290 penalty minutes in an on-againoff-again career that found him in the Western Hockey League (WHL), American Hockey League (AHL) and International Hockey League (IHL). A sixth-round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 1988 (124th pick overall), Barrie never saw ice time with the Oilers, playing for the WHL Calgary Wranglers, Victoria Cougars and Kamloops Blazers from 1985 to 1990. Traded
to the Philadelphia Flyers, he played one NHL game in the 1989-90 season before going back to the farm league, playing with the AHL Hershey Bears from 1990 to 1993. Barrie played another 8 NHL games with the Flyers in 1992-93 (scoring 2 goals and 2 assists), before being traded to the Florida Panthers, who put him on the ice twice in 1993-94 (no goals or assists). He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, playing 48 games in 1994-95 and 5 games in 1995-96 (for a total of 3 goals and 11 points), and also playing in the IHL Cincinnati Cyclones, Rochester Americans, Cleveland Lumberjacks, San Antonio Dragons and Long Beach Ice Dogs. He ended his hockey career in the NHL, playing 46 games in the 1999-2000 season with the Los Angeles Kings (5 goals, 8 assists) and 14 games with the Florida Panthers (4 goals, 6 assists). The next season, 20002001, Barrie played 60 games with the Panthers, scoring 5 goals and 18 assists. He spent a total of 135 minutes in the penalty box that season. http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/
28 Forest Land Reserve Act (R.S.B.C. 1994), Section 16 (1). This legislation was not repealed until August 2003.
29 Documents received from Land Reserve Commission pursuant to Freedom of Information Request to Ministry of Forests and Range, 22 January 2007.30 See Flitton to Hagen, 19 December 2001; Flitton to Miller, 20 December 2001; Miller to Carrier, 21 December 2001; and related documents from Land Reserve Commission pursuant to Freedom of Information Request to Ministry of Forests and Range, 22 January 2007.31 Also Freehold Transfer Form A (Land Title Act Section 185(1), dated 31 December 2001, VI ES118678.
32 Minutes, 21 January 2001. See Correspondence and Agenda Item 8 (b) Wildfire Interface Committee – Staff Report (File No. 6520-20W).
33 Bylaw No. 635, Langford Official Community Plan Bylaw, Amendment No. 53 (Development Permit Guidelines for Interface Fire Hazards), 2002; Minutes, 15 April 2002; also 18 March 2002.34 Minutes, 18 February 2001.
35 Minutes, 4 March 2002. On 17 June 2002, this position was revised in response to changes in the CRD Regional Growth Strategy, with council approving “the current draft.” In the months the followed, Highlands raised its own objections to the revised RGS, related to the LGB9 property. At a special meeting of Langford council on 29 October 2002, council withdrew “its concerns” on the condition that an agreement was reached with Highlands on “cross-boundary road, traffic and firefighting concerns arising out of large major new developments in south Highlands.” Langford confirmed its willingness “to enter into an Intermunicipal Agreement with respect to a tight sewer pipe through a portion of the District of Highlands for the LGB9 property in Langford.” See Langford Council Minutes, 17 June 2002; 29 October 2002.36 Minutes, 2 April 2002. Council resolution regarding Rezoning Application – Bear Mountain Estates (Application to Rezone 2080 Millstream Road (Bear Mountain Estates) from GB2 (Greenbelt 2) to a New Comprehensive Development Zone to Allow a Future Residential and Recreational Development)(File No. Z-01-10)
37 At the April 2nd meeting, Council “received with thanks” a letter from Les Bjola’s Turner Lane Development Corporation outlining LGB9’s “contribution of funds for the Bear Mountain Estates Rezoning.” Minutes, 2 April 200138 Minutes, 15 April 2002; 14 May 2002; 17 June 2002.
39 Minutes, 17 April 2001. Hearing on Langford Zoning Bylaw, Amendment No. 51, (2433 Millstream Road), 2001.
40 Minutes, 16 July 2001.
41 Minutes, 28 November 2001. Special Council meeting.
42 Minutes, 28 November 2001. Special Council meeting.
43 Minutes, 21 January 2001; 4 February 2001. Millstream and McCallum Road Exchange Bylaw No. 643; Rights of Way at 2430 and 2420 Millstream Road; DVP-01-21– 2465 2451, 2447, 2443, 2441, 2439 and 2429 Millstream Road and 690 Reddington Avenue.
44 Minutes, 7 April 2003; 22 April 2003; 5 May 2003; 20 May 2003; 2 June 2003; 16 June 2003; 15 September 2003.
45 See Bylaw No. 735, “A Bylaw to Establish Services In an Area Outside the Municipality,” Minutes, 2 June 2003.
46 Minutes, 16 June 2003; 15 July 2003; 21 July 2003. The Liquor license extension was approved at a special meeting on 15 July 2003 convened exclusively for that purpose. At the next regular meeting, council adopted a resolution stating: “As an exception to Council’s resolution of December 16th, 2002 opting out of the Licensing process for Liquor Primary Application, that Council direct staff to write a letter of unconditional support to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for a Primary Liquor License at Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club.”
47 See Bylaws Nos. 771 and 790; Minutes, 5 August 2003; 20 October 2003; 15 December 2003; 5 January 2004.
48 Minutes, 20 October 2003.
49 Bear Mountain Bylaws No. 802 and 803, Minutes, 3 November 2003; 15 March 2004.
50 Public Hearing on Bylaws No. 802 and 803, Minutes, 17 November 2003. Other decisions pertaining Bear Mountain servicing and roads and variances for the 32-unit Phase 2 expansion, see 18 August 2003; 15 September 2003, 5 October 2003. In March 2004, council approved a servicing agreement for the 44-unit Phase 3 expansion. The next month, it revised the deadlines for completing road, sidewalk, and landscaping in the Village Centre and Phases 1 and 2 under the Bear Mountain Master Partnership Servicing Agreement. Minutes, 15 March 2004; “Bear Mountain – Revised Servicing Agreement for Village Centre and Phases 1&2 to Extend Deadlines for Works Required by that Agreement,” 4 April 2004.51 Minutes, 15 December 2003. See also “City of Langford Development Cost Charge Bylaw No. 26; Amendment No. 7,
2004,” Minutes, 5 April 2004.52 Minutes, 7 September 2004.
53 This issue – cause of ongoing controversy in the CRD – had been explosive in the traditionally anti-growth Highlands since the late 1990s, when Flitton lobbied for an earlier incarnation of a golf course resort. Highlands’ council remains divided on the RGS amendment and LGB9 generally. While pro-development mayor Mark Cardinal narrowly defeated conservationist Karel Roessingh in November 2005 elections, until December 2007 there was no effective voting majority. Rookie councillor Michelle Mahovlich, a consultant with Seacor Environment Inc., is married to Todd Mahovlich, Bear Mountain’s former director of golf operations (chief golf pro). Mahovlich’s absence from Bear Mountain decisions left the council split 3-3 between pro- and anti-LGB9 forces. See Langford council Minutes, 20 December 2004; also Staff Report to Highlands Council, 17 December 2004, re: Bear Mountain Proposal – Summary Report; “Density a worry at Bear Mountain,” Times Colonist, 4 March 2004; District of Highlands regular council meeting, Minutes, 15 March 1999; “Highlands council postpones action on WFP rezoning application,” Mud News, April 1999, published by South Island Mountain Bike Society (included with records from Freedom of Information Request MoE 07.001); District of Highlands Committee of the Whole Meeting, 11 April 2002; District of Highlands Special Meeting minutes, 21 June 2005; District of Highlands Special Meeting minutes, 15 February 2006; District of Highlands council meeting, 18 April 2006.
54 Staff Report to Highlands Council, 17 December 2004, re: Bear Mountain Proposal – Summary Report, p. 12.
55 District of Highlands, 2005 Annual Report, p. 8; Were You Aware, June 2005-February 2006; Highlands, Statement of Vote, 2006.
56 CRD Planning and Protective Service Committee minutes, 22 February 2006; Highlands council minutes, 18 April 2006.
57 Minutes, 17 January 2005; also Minutes of Transportation and Public Works Committee, 25 January 2005.
58 Minutes, “Roads DCC Projects 5 Year Plan – North TCH DCC Project,” 7 February 2005.
59 Minutes, 7 February 2005; “ICBC spotlights top crash sites,” Times Colonist, 25 July 2007.
60 Minutes, 16 May 2005.
61 British Columbia, Statement of Votes, 2005.
62 “Grits pledge $5 million for Bear Mtn. overpass,” Victoria News, 11 January 2006.
63 “Overpass under review,” Victoria News, 3 March 2006.
64 Report of Community Environmental Consultation on the Bear Mountain Interchange, Colwood BC, 19 September 2007.
65 John Horgan speech in British Columbia Legislature, Hansard - Official Report of Debates of the Legislative Assembly, 6
March 2006, p. 2715.
66 Horgan speech, Hansard - Official Report of Debates of the Legislative Assembly, 8 May 2006, p. 4560.
67 Kevin Falcon speech, Hansard -Official Report of Debates of the Legislative Assembly, 8 May 2006, p. 4561.
68 Land Title Act Form A [Freehold Transfer] and B [Mortgage agreement], Goudy to LGB9 sale, VIP74504 and 78400, 23 February 2005 and 24 February 2005.
69 Minutes, 7 June 2004.
70 Minutes, 21 June 2005.
71 OCP-05-01 and Z-05-01 Langford staff report, 2690 and 2695 Savory Road, 25 April 2005, p. 11.
72 Minutes, 19 May 2005. By-laws 941 and 942.
73 Focus Corp., South Skirt Mountain – Stormwater Management Plan, prepared for City of Langford, 7 September 2006, p. 3
74 Minutes, 6 February 2006; Langford Transportation and Public Works Committee minutes, 24 January 2006; Staff Report File No. 5330-20 Bear Mtn Interchange.
75 Minutes, 1 May 2006.
76 Minutes, 5 July 2006. Bylaw No. 1027 (File No. 3900-1027), “Langford Official Community Plan Bylaw, 1996; Amendment No. 109, (Appendix M: Bear Mounting Estate Area Plan – Text Amendment), 2006”; and Bylaw No. 1028 (File No. 3900-1028), “Langford Zoning Bylaw, Amendment No. 184 (Text Amendment – CD6 [Comprehensive Development 6 –Bear Mountain], 2006.”
77 Minutes, 5 September 2006.
78 Minutes, 2 December 2002.
79 Minutes, 15 March 2004; 5 April 2004.
80 District of Highlands, Report of Public Hearing, 21 June 2005.
81 Minutes of Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission, 11 July 2006.
82 “First Nations bands threaten blockade of Bear Mountain,” Times Colonist, 25 May 2006.
83 “Destroying cave only way to gather information,” Times Colonist, 16 November 2006.
84 Agreement in Principle, dated 21 November 2006, signed 24 November 2006, document in possession of author; “Developers court natives with casino,” Times Colonist, 2 December 2006. In 2000, when the Great Canadian Casino relocated from the City of Victoria, Langford flexed its muscles in a bid to host the new facility. However, the BC Lottery and Gaming commission favoured View Royal, despite emergency resolutions and other manouevres. Langford and Council succeeded in winning a portion of revenues from the new casino, but held out hope of opening its own facility in the future. See Minutes of Joint Meeting of Langford and Colwood Councils, 30 May 2000, and other resolutions, May- 2000.
85 Tsartlip First Nation Media Advisory, 18 December 2001; “Tsartlip issue stern warning on destruction of sacred sites,” Times Colonist, 20 December 2006.
86 “Cave issue tests Songhees unity,” Times Colonist, 14 December 2001. In contrast, Carolyn L. Ramsey of Campbell River, a speleologist (cave expert), wrote to BC Premier Gordon Campbell, suggesting that: “Bear Mountain’s reputation as a good corporate citizen would be assured” if it worked with First Nations to protect the cave, rather than destroyed it. See Carolyn Ramsey to Gordon Campbell, 30 November 2006.
87 This information was provided by an informant on the condition of anonymity.
88 “Langford gridlock relief in sight,” Times Colonist, 15 February 2007.
89 “Out on a limb for trees,” Times Colonist, 12 April 2007; “Tree Sit established in path of Bear Mountain Interchange,” Media Release, Coalition to Protect Goldstream Watershed, 10 April 2007.
90 “Protesters stop Langford crew from gating cave,” Times Colonist, 1 June 2007.
91 “Engineers told to go green on interchange,” Times Colonist, 14 May 2007. A week earlier, Langford council had receive without action a request from the Vancouver Island Cave Exploration Group to protect the cave. Minutes, 7 May 2007.
92 Golder Associates, Report on Archeological Impact Assessment of the Spencer Road Interchange, Langford, B.C., 22 December 2006.
93 Golder Associates, City of Langford Spencer Road Interchange Environmental Assessment, 21 December 2006.
94 Minutes, 16 July 2007; 4 September 2007.
95 “Decision seen as key for allowing Bear Mountain to expand into Highlands,” Victoria News, 18 July 2007.
From Rural Backwater to Urban Centre: Langford, 2000-2001…………………………..2
Bear Mountain: Land Assembly and Regulatory Change, 2001-2002……………………5
A Transportation Crisis that Langford Created…………………………………………...9
The Bear Mountain Interchange…………………………………………………………12
First Nations Stand, 2006………………………………………………………………...17
Appendix A – Chronology of Bear Mountain Development….…………………………20
Appendix B – Bob Flitton e-mail to Al Delisle, 1 November 2000……………………..23
Appendix C – Bob Flitton e-mail to Stan Hagen, 19 December 2001……......................24
Appendix D – Map of Skirt Mountain land assembly, 2001…………………………….26
Appendix E – Forest Land Reserve lands (“Goudy Lands”) showing
Bear Mountain Parkway road allowance………………………………………...27