Category Archives: Environment

Dear Auntie Civ: You’ll just have to die

Auntie Civ

Ask Auntie Civ — the world’s first anti-civilization advice columnist!

Dear Auntie Civ,

I am wondering how a post-civilization society will be able to handle chronic illnesses like Crohn’s disease. You see, I have Crohn’s disease and the only treatment that works for me requires me to go to a hospital every few weeks to get a 2 hour IV treatment.

Of course, my situation is kind of a Catch-22. Crohn’s is most likely caused by some kind of environmental factor in so-called developed nations (my guess is it’s the food, but who knows). So it looks like civilization gave me Crohn’s, but I can’t survive without civilization.

I’ve met a lot of Primitivists who have flat-out told me I’ll have to die for their utopia, to which I’ve quickly replied, “fuck you.” Surely there must be some kind of way to do away with civilization without asking me and comrades with similar sicknesses to die.


— Chronic Illness

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Derrick Jensen

Author and activist Derrick Jensen would consider the label “uncivilized” a compliment. But then, he’s not your garden-variety white California environmentalist. He’s an outspoken anti-authoritarian and vehement anti-capitalist, yet he refuses to be categorized as either an anarchist or a socialist. Instead of controlling the means of production, Jensen calls on workers to destroy the means of production in order to save the planet. “Luddite” fits, but it doesn’t go far enough.

In an interview earlier this year, Jensen said he rejects the term “primitivist” because it’s a “racist way to describe indigenous peoples.” He prefers “indigenist” or “ally to the indigenous,” because “indigenous peoples have had the only sustainable human social organizations, and … we need to recognize that we [colonizers] are all living on stolen land.”

Jensen has fifteen books in print, including Listening to the Land (1995), A Language Older Than Words (2000), As the World Burns (2007), and Lives Less Valuable (2010). His most influential work, the 2006 best-seller Endgame: The Problem of Civilization, is the subject of the 2010 indie film END:CIV.

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Survey: Most Juan de Fuca residents don’t want new resort development

New roads planned along the Juan de Fuca trail. Photo: Alysha Tylynn Jones

A survey of Juan de Fuca residents indicates that the vast majority prefer environmental preservation to real estate development and resort tourism. The poll results show that only 7.5 percent of respondents  support new development and resort tourism in the Juan de Fuca electoral area, while 85 percent prefer habitat and watershed restoration.

A coalition of students and community groups conducted the direct-mail survey of people in Port Renfrew, Jordan River, Shirley, and Otter Point. The Wild Coast Campaign is compiling a report to be presented to the Capital Regional District in spring. Preliminary results will be presented during the Juan de Fuca land-use committee’s public information session tonight at Edward Milne School in Sooke.

The surveys were sent to all 423 households in the rural area via Canada Post in December and January. Residents were asked their opinions about land use in the former Western Forest Products lands in the Juan de Fuca electoral area.

Among other questions, the survey asked “What would you prefer to see happen in the Juan de Fuca forestlands?”

Out of 53 responses, only nine (17%) support resort tourism in Juan de Fuca. Four of these (7.5%) also want to see more real-estate development and subdivisions in the future.

“Resort tourism” ranked 13th on the list of 16 options, ahead of “real estate development and subdivisions” with eight votes, and “clearcut logging” with three.

The top answer, selected by 85% of respondents, was “watershed and habitat restoration.” Second in the multiple-choice poll, with 72% support, was “forest protection.” Third on the list was “park creation,” chosen by 68% of those who answered.

The poll did not specifically query residents on their support for a
proposed resort development on Juan de Fuca trail, now under
consideration by the Juan de Fuca land-use committee.

The survey was distributed to every household in the Juan de Fuca communities via unaddressed Canada Post mail. This is not a scientific poll and should not take the place of full community consultation; however, it represents a fairly random sample of residents.

Here is the question as it appeared on the survey form, followed by the responses for each option.

What would you prefer to see happen in the Juan de Fuca forestlands?

45  Watershed and habitat restoration
38  Forest protection
36  Park creation
34  Public consultation
32  Moratorium on new development
31  More community planning
30  Eco-forestry
26  Eco-tourism
25  Research forestry
22  Traditional indigenous activities
21  Community forestry
20  Education programs
12  Cultural tourism
9    Resort tourism
8    Real estate development and subdivisions
3    Clearcut logging

Related posts:

Why rural residents oppose the Juan de Fuca resort plan

If you can’t trust smooth-talking millionaire real-estate developers, who can you trust?

Update: Committee to reconsider proposed resort on the Juan de Fuca trail


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Why rural residents oppose the Juan de Fuca resort plan

A volunteer stands over a septic field test hole near the trailSeptic field test hole near the trail. Photo: Alysha Tylynn Jones

Public comments requested Thursday, March 3 at Edward Milne School, 6218 Sooke Road, Sooke. Hosted by the Capital Regional District.

Residents of Shirley, Jordan River, and other nearby communities are turning out in force to denounce a rezoning proposal that would permit 263 vacation homes, lodges, recreation buildings, septic fields, and roads within 100 meters of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a popular wilderness destination west of Jordan River.

The seven properties in question are former Western Forest Products tree farm license lands south of West Coast Road and adjacent to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail Park between China Beach and Sombrio Beach. The current zoning allows one home on each property.

The resort plan is widely viewed as a threat to the park and the tourism dollars generated by an estimated 300,000 visitors each year. Dozens of critics have also noted that the plan contradicts the Capital Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy and promotes uncontrolled urban sprawl in designated Rural Resource Lands. Elders from the Pacheedaht First Nation have publicly stated their opposition to the project and their demands for a moratorium on development on the nation’s traditional territory.

West Vancouver real-estate developer Ender Ilkay and his supporters cite “economic development” as the main reason to allow this huge resort to go forward. However, Ilkay’s optimistic economic report fails to address negative impacts on existing tourism operators and park visitors. The report also ignores impacts on wildlife, the risk of damage to the park, increased demands on local volunteer fire and rescue services, and the increased infrastructure costs that would be borne by all tax-payers in the CRD.

Ultimately, five people will decide the future of this plan. A majority of CRD directors have serious concerns about the proposal, but the final vote rests with the CRD’s Land Use Committee A. The members are:

Mike Hicks, the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director (who also chairs the Juan de Fuca Land Use Committee and has the power to appoint its members)

Denise Blackwell, a Langford councillor and cheerleader for the failed Bear Mountain Resort

Janet Evans, the pro-development mayor of Sooke

Dave Saunders, mayor of Colwood, and

John Ranns, mayor of Metchosin.

Those opposed to the project include MLA John Horgan (Malahat-Juan de Fuca), MP Denise Savoie (Victoria), MLA Rob Fleming (Victoria), and MP Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca), who has long advocated expanding the wilderness park.

Concermed? Send a letter to the directors of the Capital Regional District.

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Ender Ilkay: If you can’t trust smooth-talking millionaire real-estate developers, who can you trust?

Ender Ilkay

Real estate speculator Ender Ilkay, Marine Trail Holdings

Originally published in Focus Magazine.

Ender Ilkay’s proposal for a sprawling resort on top of the Juan de Fuca Trail draws heavy fire.

At his public presentation, West Vancouver-based developer Ender Ilkay was calm and self-assured—until he got angry. Then the claws came out.

Ilkay and his company, Marine Trail Holdings, plan to develop seven parcels of forestland purchased from Western Forest Products—land that, until recently, was part of a publicly-managed Tree Farm License. In 2007, the province’s sudden decision to release 28,000 hectares of forestland from TFL status to WFP without consultation or compensation triggered a storm of controversy and court actions. Complications scuttled Ilkay’s earlier plans to develop two of the parcels.

Now, Ilkay’s back, with an ambitious plan for a sprawling resort that includes a recreation centre, tourist lodge, and 279 cabins stretching along seven kilometres of choice land between Mystic Beach and Sombrio Beach.

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Dear Auntie Civ: Why are vegans so angry?

Auntie Civ

Ask Auntie Civ, the world’s only anti-civilization advice columnist!

Auntie Civ gives advice from an anti-civilization viewpoint. If you’d rather get advice from a vegetarian or techno-utopian, ask one.

Why do environmentalists eat meat? (part two)

Dear Auntie Civ,

You’re so old and senile, you’re not even making sense. Give a proper answer to the vegetarians, or give up and admit you’re losing it.

Another Vegetarian

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Activist Zoe Blunt Defends Canada’s Forests and Urges Us to Join In

Interview by Mickey Z, Planet Green

A self-described “journalism school dropout living in Victoria, British Columbia,” Zoe Blunt lives the eco-activist life and writes about it. For example:

Zoe Blunt. Photo by Tony Bounsall

“I’m standing at the base of the tree leaning back on my harness and peering at the platform sixty feet above. Ingmar is encouraging me to get up there. The press conference is supposed to start in forty-five minutes and we need to get into position. Ingmar’s fully informed about my slightly spastic condition and I can tell he’s not sure if I can still do this. I give him a thumbs up and start up the rope. By the time the camera crews arrive, we’re both up on the platform with our feet dangling down.”

Zoe likes to say she’s no action hero, but I say we could use a few million just like her. That’s why I interviewed her about old-growth forests, tree-spiking, direct action, and more.
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“You’re not crazy and it’s not your fault”

Derrick Jensen on coming to grips with this destructive culture

Deep ecology author Derrick Jensen won fame and notoriety with heavy works of non-fiction like Endgame, which compares western civilization to an abusive family where violence is a constant threat. He argues that we must bring down this culture by any means necessary. Since then, Jensen has published a searing exposé about zoos and captive animals with Karen Tweedy-Holmes called Thought to Exist in the Wild; Resistance to Empire, a collection of incendiary interviews with other activists; and What We Leave Behind, co-authored with Aric McBay – a heartbreaking polemic on the concepts of waste, life, and death.

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Dear Auntie Civ: Why do environmentalists eat meat?

Auntie Civ

Ask Auntie Civ, the world's first anti-civilization advice columnist

Dear Auntie Civ:

Thanksgiving is here, which prompts me to ask about a matter that’s been bothering me for quite some time, namely, why are environmentalists and the social justice crowd not on board with vegetarianism?

To be fair, I’m not talking about people with allergies or sensitivities, whose eating options are narrowed for reasons not of their choosing. Instead, I’m recalling the countless environmental meetings where meat and dairy products are served without question, often at the expense of animal-free offerings.

As early as 1971, we had books like the Diet for a Small Planet, exposing the degradation and social injustice of mass meat consumption. There have been hundreds of books and documentaries highlighting the health, environmental, and social equity benefits of animal-free eating.

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Let Them Eat Condos

Bilston Creek Estates

June 2009

Langford’s farmers, food lovers, and political decision-makers are struggling with the dilemma of farmland preservation

Along Bilston Creek, fat mallards flap and quack over a willow thicket and red-winged blackbirds perch on cattails to sing their spring songs. Nearby fields are dotted with blackberries, horse paddocks, and hay bales. But public notices on Happy Valley Road warn that new housing developments are on the horizon, and these farmlands and wetlands are getting squeezed by creeping urbanization.

For years, Langford’s fast-growth policies have put the city squarely at odds with local food and farming advocates. The current development applications may also violate provincial rules and Langford’s own land-use guidelines.

Critics of growth-at-any-cost are responding by forging their own vision for the future of farmland and appealing for community support to make it a reality. According to Ian McKenzie, owner of a small farm in Happy Valley, the strategy seeks to promote positive solutions, rather than more head-butting with Mayor Stew Young and Langford city council.

Home-grown solutions are needed. Vancouver Islanders are snapping up more local produce than ever before. Cheryl McLachlan, an avid local food consumer and Langford council-watcher, says demand at farmers’ markets is outstripping supply. “The joke is, at some of the weekly markets, you have to get there before 11:30 or there’s no food left.”

This spring and summer, local residents are flocking to events like Defending Our Backyard, a celebration of local food on May 31 at Fort Rodd Hill. The Island Chefs Collaborative expects over a thousand people to attend. Up in the Cowichan Valley, wine-tasting tours are a going concern. Across the South Island, restaurants compete for bragging rights about the advantages of their local, organic ingredients: superior flavour, freshness, and nutrition content. The popular Hundred Mile Diet has gained a huge following from books, blogs, and news stories in the past year. Grocery stores proudly market “BC Grown” and “Locally Grown” produce.

A harsh reality confronts this cornucopia, however: Vancouver Island grows only about five percent of its food. In the event of a crisis, the supermarkets and grocery stores would run out of many basic supplies in ten days or less. Farmer McKenzie notes, “At the moment, we depend on the transportation system and the economic system to get our food from outside our area. If Vancouver Island were hit by a tsunami—if, all of sudden, the ferry terminals were knocked out—it would take a month to repair the docks. So at some point, we’re going to have to accept we have to produce more of our food ourselves.”

Langford is taking steps to address the issue, at least on paper. Food security gets high priority in Langford’s new Official Community Plan. The guiding document for planning and development is peppered with sweeping statements promoting local food production and sustainability.

“Grow food everywhere,” the plan exhorts.

Easier said than done. Rhetoric aside, Langford politics have taken root in the farmlands like tenacious weeds. Most of Langford’s agricultural land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), a provincial program designed to protect local food production. Overseeing the ALR is the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), which considers applications to designate or remove properties from the ALR. The agency’s mandate for preservation means the rules for removal are strict. A successful application typically demonstrates a “net benefit” to farmland overall—a tough criterion to meet. With only 292 acres remaining in the reserve in Langford, and much of the arable land already lost to development, the municipality must find creative ways to pair removal applications with plans to intensify agriculture in other areas.

McKenzie has some ideas on how to do this. “We’re looking at more intelligent use of farmland, including parcels that are part agricultural and part other use,” he says. Rocky or sandy areas can be used to build housing for farm workers, while the remainder can be worked with the latest high-intensity farming methods. Marginal soils can be remediated. “That will fulfill the ALC requirement for net benefit,” McKenzie says.

Applying to remove land from the ALR without proposing tangible benefits to farmland, McKenzie says, “defeats the whole purpose of having local food production and food security.” And those applications are not likely to be approved by the province, according to other observers.

3616 Happy Valley

At times, Langford’s land-use strategies have clashed with the provincial agricultural commission’s requirements. In 2006, the city touched off a storm when it sent a letter to every landowner with property in the ALR, advising them that the city would help them apply for removal. That letter was followed by heavy backpedaling and a second letter clarifying that there would be no “blanket removals” of ALR land. Rob Buchan, Langford’s clerk-administrator at the time, stated that the offer was merely part of a process to create a neighbourhood plan for South Langford. He told the Times Colonist that the city would consider “supporting the removal from the ALR of those lands that are not useful for farming.” As for the future of the process, “It’s very much going to be driven by what the residents have to say,” Buchan said. Cheryl McLachlan supports that notion. “Langford is a growing community, therefore it has to do more due diligence to protect the ALR land that’s left.”

So far, efforts to achieve due diligence and citizen guidance have fallen on rocky ground. Residents were cheered when Langford city council appointed an advisory committee earlier this year to assist with land-use planning and accountability. The Agricultural Advisory Committee had to hit the ground running—currently, 11 landowners are applying to remove their lands from the ALR. In announcing the inaugural meeting of the committee in January 2009, Mayor Young promised, “It’s not going to be an easy process, but it’s going to be a fair one.”

Mayor Young may be half right. McLachlan attends most of the city’s committee meetings, and she and others are raising concerns about the advisory process. Citizens’ letters to the committee were rebuffed by city planner Matthew Baldwin, who politely but firmly told residents to write to the provincial Agricultural Land Commission instead, since “the decision whether or not land is removed from the ALR rests solely with the ALC, and not with Council for the City of Langford.”

Debra Harper, a local food advocate and Langford resident, was so irked by her exchange with Baldwin that she posted his “rejection letter” on her website. Baldwin later admitted that city council does, in fact, decide whether to forward applications to the province, and it can effectively veto the proposals, but he has failed to address citizens’ grievances about the way he handled the situation. Among the letters were submissions from local farmers with information about farming techniques, local soils and drainage conditions that could have helped guide the committee, which does not include any local food producers, McLachlan says.

Adding insult to injury, at least eight of those letters were also missing from the package given to city council for its final consideration of the ALR applications on April 20, 2009.

Another surprise awaited attendees at the April city council meeting. Reading the agenda, they noticed that one of the advisory committee members had the same last name and first initial as a landowner applying for removal of his land from the ALR. When questioned, Mayor Young confirmed that Mr Thomas Atherton of Happy Valley Road had, in fact, voted to bring his own application to council.

Turning farmland into housing developments typically brings a windfall profit to the landowner, and those responsible for advising governments on land-use decisions are expected to be impartial, with at least an arm’s-length distance between applicants and deciders. Langford’s terms of reference for the committee state emphatically that “no member of the Agricultural Advisory Committee shall have an active application before the committee.”

Even after McLachlan raised the point about this potential conflict, Mayor Young and Langford city council voted unanimously to forward seven applications—including Atherton’s—to the province for removal from the ALR. The final decision now rests with the Agricultural Land Commission.

Meanwhile, McKenzie is preparing a presentation for Langford council on the community’s vision for the future of farmland in Happy Valley.

“We want our kids to have food on the table and not to have to struggle for it,” McKenzie says. “We want our kids to have jobs, and that means a whole range of jobs, not just professional jobs, not just construction or manufacturing.”

Agricultural work is a big part of lots of people’s lives, he says. “We’d like to see urban planning that takes into account the importance of farming—the necessity of growing food. ”

McKenzie is hopeful Langford’s rhetoric will someday match up with its actions. “I think they’re sort of grudgingly admitting they have to have some sort of a plan for agriculture, but I think at the moment they don’t give it the same importance as other types of land development,” he says.

As you sow, so shall you reap. Chris Johnson, a local food advocate in Victoria, says disappearing agricultural land is an urgent problem. “At the rate things are going,” he says, “I hope our children can figure out how to eat carpet and plasterboard.”

Rezoning notice in Happy Valley

Zoe Blunt lives in Langford and loves local food.

Photos by Pete Rockwell.

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