Islanders really care about this Island. The Task Force on Land Use Policy recently found that out when they counted almost 800 responses to their survey.
The chairman, John Handrahan, said he was “extremely pleased” with that many responses. It is unusual to get such a high participation rate for any survey, but this is something near and dear to Islanders.
It’s our home and we care about it. Almost 800 care enough that they want to have a say on how to conserve and protect it for future generations.
Our little piece of sandstone cradled in the waves is precious and delicate, and we have to do all we can to protect its soil, its water and the air around it.
We don’t want all our trees cut down, our drinking water contaminated, our waterways polluted, or our soil washing or eroding away. We also don’t want huge edifices being erected along our coastlines, spoiling our beautiful viewscapes.
These are the things that most of those hundreds of survey responders are worried about.
The majority felt that the best farmland should be kept in agriculture or related resource uses and not be made available to just any kind of development. There was strong support for restricting development of anything that would compromise the beauty of our Island scenery.
And yes, our fertile soil should be put to good use to grow produce. Yet, we have to be careful that at the same time, we are not damaging other aspects of our environment.
Hectares and hectares of forested land – habitat for wildlife – has been sacrificed for the production of potatoes and other crops.
Producers have been applying pesticides to our land for more than half a century, mostly to grow our famous Island spuds.
But as we have found in recent years, chemicals are washing into our waterways and killing fish.
Fish kills often present an opportunity for politicians to create study committees to appease outraged citizens, but they do nothing to reduce the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers on our land.
Changes to buffer zone legislation and enforcing stricter rules for farming practices doesn’t seem to be working.
We can easily see what these chemicals are doing to the fish in our streams and rivers, but it’s not so easy to see what they are doing to our air, and our groundwater and to us.
Earth Action, the Island-based environmental protection group, is proposing that since there is no HST on agricultural pesticides and fertilizers, the provincial government should charge a nine per cent sales tax – the provincial portion of the HST – on these non-organic substances.
Perhaps the new year will bring some form of action from our legislators or regulations from the Land Use task force that will help save our environment and our Island.