Coming Clean

Dave Killion — August 4, 2011

In today’s Times-Colonist, Paul Willcocks relates some local history concerning the clean-up of a city waterway –

“…¬†a few decades into the 20th century, the Gorge waterway was too polluted for anyone but the foolhardy to go swimming.

Residential development all along its length and around Portage Inlet meant increasing runoff, often with storm water and sewage spilling into the waters. Industry along the harbour and Gorge had added its own toxic legacies over Victoria’s early years. And the Gorge had become a dumping ground for unwanted items large and small.

Nasty! But wait, it gets better –

“In 1994, (John Roe) and his nine-year-old son started spending their days hauling stuff out of the water – shopping carts, rusted metal, car tires…¬†Other people started helping haul stuff from the water or contributed money. Scuba divers volunteered to pull up the junk Roe couldn’t reach.

Business and governments offered support.

Roe, who had covered all the initial expenses, led the formation of the Veins of Life Watershed Society.

Grants and donations paid for equipment and bigger workforces. The cleanup efforts moved beyond pulling junk from the water and started focusing on stopping the flow of pollutants.

And at some point, there was a transformation.”

Regular readers will recognize Willcocks from some previous posts referencing his blog ‘Paying Attention‘, where he promotes things like higher taxes and other government intervention. They will also recognize what Willcocks doesn’t – that the government was entrusted with the care of the Gorge the whole time it was being turned into a sewer, and that it was private initiative that got it cleaned up. And that’s why we’re libertarian and he’s not.

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