Someone passed along this CHEK-TV news item showing George Schmidt of TimberCrest Estates, Ltd., the development company wishing to put houses on top of a major archaeological site in the Cowichan Valley at Somenos Creek, which I’ve written about before: 1, 2.
Listen to the favourable treatment he gets from the newscaster. Loaded language like “In limbo”. “Pony Up”.
Hey, CHEK-TV, since you’re the voice of the people now and all that and also “journalists”, how about you dig around in the zoning history of the land before you just repeat the mantra “government must pay”. Did the developer buy this land already zoned for residential development? How much did he pay in 1972? Does he deserve compensation for having a risk turn out the wrong way for him? Does he have the right to destroy a cemetery? Is he, in fact, losing anything that he already had, or is he losing a perceived entitlement? He took a risk, he has gained mightily, and now he wants a slice of the First Nation’s pie as well.
I’d seriously suggest CHEK-TV also looks into the $500,000 amount he claims to have spent on archaeology at Somenos Creek. From what little I know of the site, I am very skeptical about that figure.
Truly, there needs to be a mechanism by which true hardship cases of conflict between development and archaeology, or where the impact assessment process has failed, can be resolved. That, indeed, may mean some government financial input. But these should be reserved for instances where other options have run out and where there is demonstrable financial hardship. This case does not pass the smell test – vast profits have assuredly been made and now legal and moral constrains are drawing a line under this development.
I say this company should stop going cap in hand to the government and just give the land up as a heritage park in return for a tax receipt. Unless I am mistaken, most entrepreneurs are not socialists, and I am sure the last thing the typical developer would want is to be perceived as a corporate welfare bum.