DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS is still death.
This week, City council approved a public hearing to amend land use of a major new subdivision in Aberdeen. The subdivision, when built, will push Aberdeen higher up the hillside, into what for now is native grasslands.
Another section of grasslands, which surround Kamloops, will be destroyed to support the most inefficient land use in housing: single family housing, along with some low-density and medium-density multifamily.
Grasslands are some of the most endangered habitats in B.C. Grasslands make up less than one per cent of B.C.’s landmass. Grasslands contain one-third of B.C.’s species at risk. They are constantly under threat from urban sprawl and fragmentation.
At a recent open house to discuss the change in land use to the new Aberdeen subdivision, only 60 people came out. Concerns centered on parking and traffic.
What is ironic is that for years, thousands came out to protest the building of the proposed KGHM Ajax mine just over the hill. On the now archived “Stop Ajax” website, one of the main page’s banner states, “The Ajax mine will impact 2,500 hectares, most of which is the finest low elevation grasslands in Canada.”
Thousands rallied to stop Ajax, and preserve the grasslands where the mine was proposed.
Meanwhile, the same people who opposed the Ajax mine, seem silent as, cut by cut, the grasslands around Kamloops are eaten away by development.
Why is it that protests happen when mines are built, but not houses, on the same grasslands?
Housing is one of the biggest threats to the environment, and yet when the sprawl continues, there are no protests.
To be fair, the current council is only one of many previous councils, of which I was part of one, who approved land use amendments for the Aberdeen subdivision that allows building on native grasslands. And there were no protests back then either.
Going forward, infill must be the first way the city grows, rather than destroying and fragmenting an already threatened grassland habitat. Dividing existing large lots, and rezoning for higher densities must be the choice over taking out more grasslands.
Bit by bit, cut by cut, the grasslands around Kamloops can be preserved, by focusing on infill rather than sprawl. A few grassland protestors would help matters as well.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.