Ecosystem Update

Warning: Destruction Ahead!
Trees, bushes, shrubs, wildflowers, and every living thing has been stripped away by bulldozers. The tree sit is gone but the fight continues.

Below, Langford Lake Cave is still intact under a rebar grate and several tons of boulders. The cave is in danger from blasting of the interchange site, which could happen at any time.

Red Alert for Red-legged Frogs Construction is dumping silt and mud into Spencer's Pond and Florence Lake and suffocating Red-Legged Frogs, a blue-listed species at risk. The city Of Langford has no plan to deal with runoff and contamination until after the construction is finished. By then the frogs may be wiped out, and it could be years before they return to what's left of their habitat.

Stand Up for Garry Oaks
Garry Oak meadows are the most endangered ecosystem in Canada, and they need your help. Developers are finalizing their proposal to the City of Langford for a large development between the Bear Mountain development and Hwy No.1. If allowed to proceed as is, this development will build on and destroy part of the endangered Garry Oaks Ecosystem and habitat for threatened species, like the sharp-tailed snake and the red-legged frog.

The city wants the development to go ahead but there is another option. The developers don’t need to build on the endangered Garry Oaks ecosystem. Within their development boundaries there is sufficient non-endangered land on which they can build. The developers have promised to give almost half of the total land away as protected, undeveloped parkland, but they have neglected to protect all of the Garry Oaks areas on their plans.

Help protect the Garry Oaks and Red-legged Frogs. Demand that the City of Langford force the developers to build only on non-sensitive land and protect the Garry Oaks Ecosystem. The mayor and city will be reviewing the final development package over the next couple of weeks. The only way to stop the destruction is to put pressure on the city of Langford to force the Skirt Mountain developers to amend their plans to protect the Garry Oaks Ecosystem. Don’t let the mayor give in to the developers with a clean conscience. Hold your elected politicians to account.

Email Langford's mayor and council:
Email Langford's project engineer:

Mayor Cardinal and Bear Mountain
Last week, I sent a press release about Highlands Mayor Mark Cardinal and the stump grinder that is currently making sawdust from cedar and fir stumps at the site of the Bear Mountain Interchange in Langford. I asked: “if [Cardinal] is not doing anything illegal or unethical, why did he go to the effort of covering up the Eco Pro logo on the machine’s cab?”

It turns out Eco Pro doesn’t own the machine any more. The mayor tells me he is no longer a partner in the company, and the red stump grinder belongs to him alone. Cardinal says his last day on the job with Eco Pro was December 31, 2007. He doesn’t specify the reason for his departure from the company. However, he does add that he and his fellow Highlands councillors have been found “not guilty” of conflict of interest charges in the past.

Conflict of interest arises when a public official votes to provide a benefit to a money-making venture without disclosing private connections to that venture. Mayor Cardinal did not excuse himself from a vote to grant Bear Mountain permission to expand its development to within 10 to 20 metres of Osborn Creek and other small waterways. In December, he also voted to allow a sewer pipe to cross through Highlands territory from the resort to the City of Langford sewer main.

The stump grinder owned by the mayor is on the south side of Highway 1 west of Spencer Road in Langford. It is only a few meters from Langford Lake Cave, a First Nations traditional site threatened by the ongoing construction of the Bear Mountain Interchange. An observer said Cardinal is likely charging the City of Langford in the neighbourhood of $500 an hour for the service.

Cardinal denies that he is guilty of conflict of interest. “You make reference to past conflict charges of interest [sic] tainting myself and other Councillors,” Cardinal writes. “After a full review by a learned judge, those charges were determined invalid [sic] by the court.”

To date, no new conflict of interest charges have been filed against Cardinal or any of his fellow councillors.

Cardinal is right to bring my attention to “this unnecessary chain of events that may have caused irreparable damage to my credibility within the greater CRD community and especially with my local political colleges.” [sic – I think he means “colleagues.”]

I would like to commend Mayor Cardinal for his honesty in coming forward and setting the record straight, and I apologize for any confusion my initial press release may have caused.

Stew's Mulligan
The past week has been rough for Langford mayor Stew Young. First he was roasted by the newspapers and TV stations. Then came his public spanking by the BC Civil Liberties Association, and finally the Municipal Finance Authority smacked down the loan for Stew’s pet highway project.

Despite the mounting pressure, the blustery mayor has not backed down from his threats to sue us for the cost of the massive police raid on tree sit camp last month. Nor is he reconsidering the destructive highway project that will demolish a First Nations cave and rare species, although the MFA’s rejection will force him to seek new financing.

In a surprise move, Young and his staff expanded the crackdown on free speech in Langford last week. This time, they targeted a young mother who put up letter-sized signs (and a small banner on her porch) that read Get the Facts: On Monday, a municipal enforcement officer arrived on Jennifer Andison’s doorstep with an order to cease and desist or face a $100 fine. Jen was astonished. Political speech is protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but not according to Langford’s restrictive sign bylaws.

Next week promises to bring more drama.  Stew Young may face worse than another public spanking - he may be fighting for his political life.

Ride On! Critical Mass takes to the streets

The Critical Mass bike ride was a rousing success, with three dozen bikers and many more supporters converging on the Ministry of Environment on Friday, March 7. We presented our demands at the Minister's office, and CHEK News gave a live report from the rally while we chanted, sang and marched.

Bear Mountain Madness Fund Drive is on now!

Hundreds of people have pledged to support the campaign for environmental justice in Langford. They are helping by lobbying the government of BC, contributing to our legal defense fund, and getting involved on the ground. Here's how:

Contribute to the legal defense fund, care of our lawyer Irene Faulkner. We have already raised over $2000 to defend the campers and potential lawsuits. Cheques can be made to "Irene Faulkner in trust" with a note directing the funds to the Bear Mountain legal fund, file #10138.

A second campaign fund for the next round of action is now open as well. Cheques for the campaign fund can be made out to VIC FAN (Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network) Please send contributions to:

Bear Mtn Campaign
c/o Irene Faulkner, Barrister
1124 Fort St.Victoria, BC
V8V 3K8

Let us know you contributed, and we'll send a letter of thanks and recognition!

"Never doubt that a small, committed group of people can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

For more info and to get involved, contact Zoe Blunt
250-885-8219 (Victoria)

More photos, analysis, maps, and videos:
Inside Langford blog
Spencer's Pond and Langford Lake Cave
Langford Protest (new site)
First Nations and Development

Thank you! Pass it on!

A quiet moment at the tree sit camp, January 2008. Photo by Jody Rogac.

Sat. March 1 - A Great Day for a Hike up the Mountain!

Over 60 Langford citizens and supporters joined the Communiy Hike up Spaet Mountain (Skirt Mountain). Beginning at the Florence Lake boardwalk, we hiked along the unpaved Bear Mountain Parkway right-of-way through threatened Garry Oak, Arbutus and Douglas Fir forest. Participants included infants and Raging Granies and members of the print and television media. Thanks to Victoria City Councillor Sonya Chandler for coming out today.

We looked down through the 20-acre clearcut of the proposed Bear Mountain Interchange, and then walked past hundreds of acres of healthy mature forest on the southern slopes of Skirt Mountain. We looked across the canyon to the undeveloped lots of the new Echo Valley subdivision -- an area to be serviced by the interchange. We lunched in a pretty Garry Oak meadow overlooking the Capital Region and Juan de Fuca Strait.

The hike rounded the Skirt Mountain summit above Goldstream Watershed and then entered the Bear Mountain property. A land excavator stopped work as the hikers passed, amid burning slash piles for million-dollar homes. We passed the 7th, 8th and 9th fairways of the Jack Nicklaus designed golf course and then hit freshly paved asphalt -- the Bear Mountain Parkway to the Whistler-esque Village Centre.

It was an empowering and intriguing day. A sunny hike through some of the most endangered ecosystem in British Columbia and then defiantly emerging into the epicentre of destruction.

We are determined to stop Bear Mountain and protect the Goldstream River Watershed and surrounding ecosystems!

-- Coalition to Protect Goldstream Watershed