The Punchline

We’re so lucky to have a wealth of natural capital1 here in the Cowichan: abundant water, plentiful land and forests, clean air, a wide range of species of birds and animals and natural systems that perform a variety of “free” services for us2.

But we have made some mistakes in how we have managed these assets. We dump our sewage into the river and our carbon into the air, we’re increasingly drawing down on our groundwater supply and we’re building on farmland because it is often easier and cheaper (in the short term) than reclaiming contaminated sites or insisting on building denser communities. And we’re moving farther and farther away from our city and town cores in a never-ending quest to ‘live rurally’ or on single lots, while spoiling rich farmland and forests along the way.

If we carry on living for today and not thinking about tomorrow, we run the risk of losing some of our natural assets forever3. We believe we must start right away to strengthen our environment and community by growing in smart ways, to repair the damage we have done to our natural assets and preserve them for future generations. And that local government must lead the way in this effort.

This is why we put together our list of big ideas for making our region more sustainable. This list is made up of small, medium and large actions we need to take to build a strong, resilient Cowichan.

Next: Introduction

1Natural capital is defined in the Q&A's below.
2Some of the “free” services that the ecosystem provides are: helping us manage floodwater, cleaning the air and water, sequestering carbon, recycling wastes, building fertile landscapes, preventing soil erosion, releasing snowmelt slowly over a long summer and growing food.
3Currently less than 1% of some of our natural ecosystem is intact along the developed corridor, and most of the forestland that surrounds our region is in a major second-growth cut cycle that may be affecting its ability to hold water - a situation which is impacting ecological functions, water-reliant industries and our drinking water supply.