Adding Housing While Reducing Human Impact On The Lakes

By Roy L Hales

Cortes has a housing crises. Young families are being forced off the island because of the lack of affordable units and there is not much room for seniors who are no longer able to maintain large lots. The Cortes Housing recently purchased 51 acres in Manson’s Landing to help address this issue, but are facing another issue as well. There are already too many nutrients draining into Hague and Gunflint Lakes. In this morning’s program we talk to Rex Weyler, Lake Stewardship Coordinator for the Friends of Cortes Island and David Rousseau, President of the Cortes Island Foundation, about adding housing while reducing human impact on the lakes.

In The Podcast:

  • Cortes Island’s Algae bloom and the steps being taken to prevent a reoccurence.
  • A global phenomenon
  • the natural input from forests, wetlands & animals
  • How runoff from gardens affects the lakes
  • Cortes Island’s outdated septic systems & lack of regulations
  • How cat tails and other plants can help take up the nutrients
  • How far are we in the remediation process?
  • Why is the Housing project important?
  • How the housing crises came to Cortes
  • Some Cortesians spend 70% to 75% of their income on housing, double the accepted level
  • Every human activity has an environmental impact; a global biomass study found that roughly 98% of the mammal biomass are humans & their livestock, the rest is wildlife.
  • Addressing problems that have grown up over the past 70 years, like the old logging road & ditches
  • Ensuring that new housing has a minimal impact
  • Type two wastewater systems
  • In phase one: 20% of the 51 acres will be housing; 80% is left for dedicated wildlife corridors, trails, forestry rehabilitation.
  • How adding another 20 units can actually reduce the overall human nutrient discharge into the lakes
Schematic from Cortes Community Housing – courtesy David Rousseau

Model For The Whole World

“We are at a critical point in this little community … up until a decade or two ago … nature was resilient enough to handle the impact of human loading .. If we make the wrong moves now and don’t remediate existing problems, we’re heading down a steep and slippery slope. If we make the right moves, we can turn this around …” – David Rousseau.

“And if we achieve this, which I believe we are going to do .. this is a model for other communities all over the world. We look at places like Salt Spring and even Quadra Island and Northern BC where they have lost their lakes … This happens all over the world. It is not just our issue, it is everybody’s issue. If we show a way to do this and end up with net negative impact on the lake, in other words improve the impact flow into the lake while adding these extra homes, that is a model for the whole world.” – Rex Weyler.

Adding Housing, While Reducing Human Impact On The Lakes
Part of the 51 Acres – courtesy Priya Huffman

Top to photos are views of Hague lake, taken from a canoe – Roy L Hales photos.

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