From Mike Bell (read the article on,

People have been asking us why we are appealing the January 20, 2010 court decision which allows the issuing of the development permit for the proposed Gas N Go station on the Dyke Road. The simplest answer is a legal one. Our lawyers have told us there are grounds for an appeal. But there is a deeper reason and it has to do with couple of signs down on the Dyke Road.

Whenever we travel down Comox Hill onto the Dyke Road on our way to Courtenay, we see a small sign high up on a post. It says, simply, “Save Our Estuary.” A little further on there is another sign. It says “Respect.” We’ve always wondered about the person who put these signs up—a man or woman, or perhaps some young people, probably with very little money, who took some boards, painted the messages on them and, when the paint dried, got a ladder, climbed the posts in the dead of night so as not to be noticed and hammered them in.

They are rather simple signs, unlike our more professional looking red and white “No Gas On the Dyke” signs. But they strike a different chord. The word “our” in “Save our Estuary” suggests a sense of place that the sign-maker and his or her family and friends, share with the salmon, the eagles, the shore birds and trumpeter swans, the flowing waters and the mountains beyond. These little signs give eloquent voice to the human-earth community on the Dyke Road and in the estuary.

There are many other people who share this sense of place and are involved in trying to save the estuary.

The word “our” in “Save our Estuary” applies most of all to the K’omoks First Nation. Many of their member s live and work on the Dyke road. Their ancestors have protected the estuary for more than a thousand years. KFN has written numerous letters to local governments protesting the proposed gas station, they have hired lawyers and tried unsuccessfully to get intervention status on our recent court case and they have managed to get a temporary halt on the development of a left hand turn lane into the Gas and Go site until they are consulted.

Project Watershed has assembled a team of technical experts and has been working with them for more than a year to create a vision and long term action plan to protect and restore the estuary. The Comox Valley Regional District is now working with Project Watershed and has put a temporary freeze on industrial developments on the Dyke Road.

Over the months of struggle we have heard from many people who share our concerns about the need to save the estuary. They recognize that the proposed station is in an earthquake zone, on unstable ground, in an Important Bird Area, a few metres away from both the feeding grounds for migrating salmon in the estuary and the wintering fields for Trumpeter Swans. It is in a flood plain area with recent floods coming close to the proposed gas station site. People wonder how anyone could ever allow such a development on this site.

We’ve heard the concerns from local businesses and residents who are worried about their property values. We’ve received numerous complaints from drivers, cyclists and pedestrians who are deeply concerned about traffic accidents and the increased risks from a proposed left hand turn into the site. As one woman put it to us, that short stretch of the Dyke Road between the proposed Gas N Go Site and Portuguese Joe’s is the place where traffic accidents will go to happen.

None of the people we’ve talked to are opposed to business or to gas stations. We all fill our cars up each week or two at a gas station. But a gas station on the Dyke Road is an invasive species. It threatens to overwhelm the life of all that surrounds it and jeopardizes the sense of place which is so important to so many of us who live in this valley.

Sierra Club is following the lead of the unknown sign-maker and launching the Save Our Courtenay River Estuary Campaign. We are supporting it with a legal fund to help us with our current court costs and provide a financial base for the appeal.

We are urging everyone to join the campaign. We are encouraging businesses, schools, sports clubs, seniors groups, youth groups, environmental groups, non-profit groups, organizations of all kinds to organize estuary fund raising events: earth day events, garage sales, dinners, bake sales, bike-a-thons and walk-a-thons, dances, estuary tours, silent auctions, films nights, art shows. Sierra Club will also organize events, provide advice on possible projects and help with the publicity.

The situation is urgent. We know from the sudden clear cutting of Lannan Forest that, if the gas station is ever built, there is nothing that anyone can really do to control what happens on the site. Let’s not mourn, let’s organize. Let’s help Save Our Courtenay River Estuary.

Mike Bell, Chairperson
Sierra Club Comox Valley


1)     Sierra Club Comox Valley—–Meeting of Members and Friends

Where: BCGEU Office, #201-910 Fitzgerald Ave – entrance on 8th St. (next to H.E.R.E. Computers). Take elevator to 2nd floor.
When: Thursday, February 18, 7:00 pm- 8:30 pm

What: Join us for an update on the Gas N Go issue and strategy for our next steps


2)   “Vancouver Island Birds: An Evening with Mike Yip, Photographer & Author”

Where: Stan Hagen Theatre, North Island College

When: Tuesday, February 23, 7:30 pm- 9:00 pm

Tickets: $15 for General Public, $10 for Sierra Club members and youth

Advance sales: Videos N’ More, Comox; Benjamin Moore House of Color, Courtenay. Also on sale at the door from 7:00 pm Feb. 23.

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