Bear Mountain. Photo: Karen Wonders
July 15, 2008
For a couple months, I’ve been grinding away on a collaborative project about the Vancouver Island resort development that destroyed two sacred caves and divided a community.
Those who have been following this blog may remember some of the highlights of the Bear Mountain campaign. Back in February, the city of Langford deployed as many as 300 Mounties with assault rifles and dogs to evict a handful of tree-sitters. It was brutal – but fortunately, the charges against our friends were dropped, and the mayor’s threats to sue me (and everyone else who tried to defend the area) never materialized.
We’re still half-expecting to get served, though! Last week, after hundreds of hours of research and editing, we finally released The Langford Rebellion: Public Opinion, Development, and Bear Mountain. The report is based on over 800 public comments and letters to the editor. Many stated that people in Langford are tired of being bullied by an aggressively pro-development council. A couple excerpts:
Langford’s reluctance to engage in discourse or acknowledge complaints has been noted by many residents. Municipal officials’ ability to threaten and insult their challengers was on display throughout the controversy, with no apologies.
Langford’s mayor and council have amassed a formidable history of dismissing questions, complaints, and petitions from the public. Their policies and statements were seen by many as self-contradicting and self-serving. And when Langford finally did launch a public relations initiative to defend the interchange, it chose the time-honoured but alienating strategy of maligning the opposition.
True to form, as soon as the report was out, deputy mayor Denise Blackwell labeled it a load of rubbish and suggested it was “not truthful.” (Since Blackwell had not yet read the report, we should note she wasn’t merely being malicious – she was also plain ignorant.)
The 46-page report is a fast and fascinating read, with 16 pages of commentary from people on all sides of the issue — local environmentalists, tradespeople, schoolchildren, seniors, and government officials. A narrative of events, eight pages of political analysis, and a news index provide a thoroughly-researched picture of the sprawling resort and its impact on the community. A Langford blogger gives the report two thumbs up and favourably compares it to the CBC documentary “Canada: A People’s History.”
Read more about forest defense on Vancouver Island.