Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

This week’s letters to the editor

Support local food production

Home vegetable gardens and backyard chicken-keeping are essential to food resilience and health here on Salt Spring, in addition to small-scale farming. Our small flock of a dozen hens produce ample eggs for the family, and more to share in the high season. 

Because I believe that home egg production, where feasible, is key to sustainable food security on Salt Spring Island, I volunteer at the schools to help classes hatch poultry in incubators. They learn about embryology and how to raise poultry in a caring manner, and perhaps most importantly, where their food comes from. 

After tending the newborn chicks for a few weeks in class, parents may sign-up to take chicks home. (Some call me “the poultry pusher.”) Through this program, the Salt Spring Island Poultry Club has supported many families in setting up small egg-production coops. 

We hatch heritage breeds at the schools so that the students who take birds home can enter them in the fall fair competitions to continue with their agricultural learning. These opportunities wouldn’t be possible without the small-scale heritage breeders here who donate fertile eggs and keep many rare breeds alive. The family under fire from the CRD bylaw enforcement department has been contributing to these school programs for years. Some school families have also been forced by the complaint-driven CRD noise bylaw to give up their birds, which can be hard on a child.  

As we navigate the challenges of the 21st century, it is essential to recognize the importance of supporting and expanding local food production. By supporting small-scale farming and accepting the sound of a well-kept rooster in our neighbourhoods, we can reduce our reliance on imported goods and strengthen our local economy. Villages around the world wake to rooster calls each morning, let’s not remain silent on Salt Spring.

ROBIN JENKINSON,

Salt Spring

Aerial spraying a nightmare

I am writing in response to the front page “Spray Day” image and caption featured in last week’s Driftwood.

While it may have been “calm” where reporter Robb Magley was on the morning of May 6 when the first “dose” of Foray 48B was sprayed over my neighbourhood, wind was estimated by an observer to be 19 to 28 km/hr across St. Mary Lake, with spray seen blowing back over the lake, which provides drinking water to 1,400 households.

Spraying in winds over eight km/hr is a clear violation of the province’s Integrated Pest Management Act, the federal Pest Control Products Act, and the conditions of the Pesticide Use Permit held by the Ministry of Forests.

The safety data sheet for Foray 48B warns it must not be released in waterways. Duck Creek — home to cutthroat trout and coho salmon — is directly in the spray zone.

I am the owner of Duck Creek Farm. While Btk, the active ingredient in Foray 48B, may be used by some organic farms in limited and targeted ways, I choose not to use chemical sprays, ever. Repeated doses of this pesticide, with 87 per cent undisclosed ingredients, can kill all caterpillars, moths and butterflies for two to three years.

This aerial spraying has been nightmarish for me and many of my neighbours — scrambling to protect crops, pets, elders and children. Many islanders are willing and eager to help with mass trapping and other non-invasive spongy moth control methods, as was done on Salt Spring Island in 2006. Instead, we are being forced to douse our homes and the land we love with an unknown cocktail of chemicals.

I personally do not think “Spray Day” is something to celebrate.

Sue Earle,

Duck Creek Farm

Safer cycling possible

The cycling season is upon us (it never ends for many island cyclists).

Our society’s transition to safer cycling is a challenging one. For example, wider road shoulders for cyclists on the 19 km Fulford-Ganges-Vesuvius link of the regional Salish Sea Trail Network are needed. They’ve been talked about for decades and nothing gets done. Last June, we were promised imminent improvements to 1.3 km of the Ganges Hill, yet nothing has changed one year later. Hopefully we’ll see action this year.

Emcon, the road maintenance contractor, has a role to play in safer cycling. Sweeping away dirt from the too-narrow paved road shoulders is a start (and much more needs to be done). Recent plowing back of the grass on the dirt shoulder along Lees Hill by Emcon is helpful.

The new 30 km/hr posted speed limit in Ganges is helpful too. Maybe the next step is to reduce the 80km/hr posted speed limits on the Island to 60 so vehicles pass cyclists at a slower and safer speed.

The next provincial initiative to protect vulnerable road users, like cyclists and pedestrians, is coming June 3. That’s the date when safe passing distance regulations come into effect (one metre on roads with 50 km/hr or less posted speeds and 1.5 metres for higher speed roads). Failing to maintain prescribed minimum passing distances could net drivers a ticket with a $368 fine and three driver penalty points. Let’s make it safer and avoid the penalties. Get the word out to all drivers to follow the new law.

Steve New,

Whims Road

Stand with rooster owners

As someone who was born and raised on this rural island, I am troubled by the recent attacks on rooster noise, particularly when it disproportionately affects those who rely on farming for their livelihoods. It is disheartening to hear that despite extensive mitigation efforts and cooperation with the Capital Regional District (CRD), one of the property owners is still facing legal action for alleged nuisance noise.

What is particularly troubling is that these property owners are operating on rurally zoned land, where agricultural use is not only permitted but encouraged. It is evident that there is a lack of consideration for the longstanding cultural significance of farming in the CRD’s enforcement actions. Instead of fostering collaboration and understanding, the CRD’s approach only serves to undermine the rights of these farmers.

We must stand in solidarity with those who are being unfairly targeted and advocate for fair treatment and respect for our fundamental right to grow food. We cannot allow bureaucratic overreach to threaten the livelihoods of our neighbours and the sustainability of our rural way of life. The upcoming trial date for this local family is this Friday, May 17, at 9:30 a.m. at the Victoria provincial court house. 

Farming is a way of life on Salt Spring; that contributes to the vibrant culture of our community. Let us not forget the importance of preserving our island’s farming roots and ensuring that we can continue to thrive in harmony with the land.

BROOKE SHERGOLD,

Salt Spring

Rescue appreciated

Jill Oakes (skipper) and I (crew) would like to send a big bunch of roses to the kind couple in the lovely new powerboat who rescued us from Ganges Harbour on Sunday, May 5 as we were trying to get control of Jill’s sturdy F15, Robyn Hood, for the annual sail past parade at the Salt Spring Sailing Club.

Yes, the winds were indeed blustery, and we were indeed perhaps foolish to be out there given our relative inexperience. But we learned a lot, including later how to tack in precisely such winds, and that using the mast is actually perfect for towing.

We thought you’d be pleased to know that we built on that experience to sail in the club race that afternoon from which we emerged in second place (granted, those were club handicap results, but still, we were pretty chuffed).

Thanks again for your kindness, sorry for your trouble! 

Kristi Norget,

Salt Spring

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