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LETTER: West Creek headwaters threatened by warehousing

Gloucester development poised to swallow sensitive wetlands

Dear Editor,

I went for a Langley walk yesterday along the West Creek headwaters in Gloucester Industrial Estates.

It’s close to where I grew up.

Thanks to the beavers, these wetlands are a beautiful, thriving, and complete ecosystem. The creek headwaters are home to salmon spawning, geese, ducks, rare and migratory birds, rabbits, and countless other wildlife.

Beavers are incredible ecosystem engineers. Here they have taken a sensitive area that was previously damaged and disrupted by all of the surrounding industrial activity, and rehabilitated it as best they could to survive.

Beavers build and maintain critical wetlands by damming streams and creeks and flooding surrounding areas with shallow water. With the help of beaver activity, the waters become the optimal depth and temperature to support fish spawning, which then feed the river and promote numerous other wild species.

Humans have much to learn from beavers about repairing and preserving habitats, and we are. Wetlands are absolutely crucial to our overall environment for many reasons, ranging from their support of fish populations and those who depend on them, to incredible carbon capture which helps offset our own adjacent human activity.

The resilience of nature is impressive, but it isn’t absolute.

Because these wetlands are adjacent to land we have previously put industrial buildings on, the current owner wants to fill this all in, bulldoze it and cut down all the remaining trees, and put in more warehouses.

Our local elected officials, some of whom took campaign money from this developer to get elected, may soon vote to allow this amazing habitat to be destroyed.

So much money can be made off these trees coming down and it getting paved over. And to do their “job”, they are counting on nobody seeing this before it happens.

It’s amazing how money can blind people. In many cases, it’s the blind leading the blind.

The development proponent does not live anywhere near our community. He owns land all over the Lower Mainland and probably plucked this one off a map because it’s well positioned to make him tens of millions of dollars if our own city leaders vote yes to bulldozing it for some more industrial buildings.

Money talks, and some people are simply afraid to say no.

The value of this property in a portfolio is based on the potential rezoning for its destruction. For that to happen, our elected Mayor and Council must be stocked with people willing to look the other way, pretending they are doing it for the best.

Since he doesn’t live here, I doubt the developer has any idea of the ecological value of this beautiful area. If he did, I don’t imagine he would be directing his company to bulldoze it rather than steward it.

One of the wealthiest people in Vancouver, no amount of “giving back” would ever make up for this loss.

If this were my property, I’d make it a park, and welcome an outdoor school campus for children, to teach them about the environment and complete ecosystems, and how to be good stewards of the land we live and work on.

We elect leaders among us to take care of these areas and ensure they remain properly protected and stewarded. Our elected leaders must educate out-of-town developers on the provincial and federal protections in place for wetlands like these, and ensure municipal protections are in place, too.

I believe we have a responsibility to educate ourselves and advocate for the health of ecosystems on which we truly depend. We do not depend on paving this over for another warehouse parking lot.

Brit Gardner, Aldergrove

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