The Week- April 7

Activists get mining rights, UVic law students host "Slut Walk" Victoria Labour Council holds living wage forum.

The Free Miners

The Free Miners

Can you dig it?

If you’ve been wondering about the future of the controversial Juan de Fuca resort properties, take heart: your local environmentalists have scored an unexpected win.

The Free Miners, a largely anonymous group of environmental activists, have just bought the mining rights to part of the same lands that developer Ender Ilkay has spent years, travel time and buckets of cash pursuing.

The property,  located between China Beach and Sombrio Beach on the west side of the Island, is slated for a set of nearly 300 vacation homes and a resort on the boundary of Juan de Fuca Park. Meanwhile, there have been dire predictions that if Ilkay’s resort application is not successful, Ilkay instead could open a mining operation alongside the park. Not anymore.

Last week, the Free Miners purchased all the mineral rights for almost all of Ilkay’s properties — and they only had to spend a few hundred doing it.

“It seems like an unfortunate oversight on Ilkay’s part, and surprising that such a high roller would make this mistake,” says eco-activist Zoe Blunt. “Now we’ve taken one threat away.”

The move means nearly 400 hectares of marine trail holdings and surrounding land along Juan de Fuca Marine Trail Park will be safe — or safer, at least.

“Ilkay may find it difficult to carry out gravel mining, since we have a right to stop and inspect every load, and we own all the minerals in the ground,” Blunt said. “The law also provides that agents of the Free Miners can enter the property for prospecting purposes.”

What if Ilkay wanted to buy those rights back? Blunt says the cost would be excessively high: maybe a trade for the land rights. Meanwhile, Blunt will be consulting with elders of the Pacheedaht First Nation about any further action.

You wanna mess with us?

For anyone unwilling to just forget about the recent sexual assault that happened to a 20-year-old woman on March 25, or anyone who can’t let the horror of the story fade with time and media withdrawal on the subject, you’re not alone: UVic law students can’t either.

“This is a tough time of year for student involvement, especially with exams and final projects due, but this issue is too big to ignore, and we wanted to do something,” says Stephanie Ashley-Pryce co-chair of UVic’s Association of Women and the Law.

Ashley-Pryce rallied her forces to host a day of action on April 5 with UVic and the community, partly in response to the Toronto “Slut Walk” which saw women marching in response to a police officer who stated that women could protect themselves from assaults if they didn’t dress like “sluts.” Ashley-Pryce hopes that people realize there is “nothing women can do to prevent assaults” — except maybe working to change society’s response.

“This issue is already falling out of the news, but it’s hard to recognize the way bigger picture here, like the fact that [the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services] reported that 13 women experience assaults each day in British Columbia alone — and 60 per cent of those cases are under the age of 18,” she says.

UVic’s law program just held its annual sexual assault advocacy workshop on March 12. Ashley-Pryce says there may be other events going on in the future, both through the law program and the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre.

The UVic event saw dozens of advocates show up, and Ashley-Pryce asked those involved to don “slut” outfits, protest slogans, even bonnets and crinoline. While the recent assault is an unpleasant reminder that sexual violence still happens against women, Ashley-Pryce says, some unexpected good has come from the response as well.

“Events like this can make you think more about the route you take when you go out for a jog or something, but it’s also definitely facilitated some dialogue that may never have happened,” she says. “Not to mention a huge community reaction that shows we’re taking assaults more seriously than before.”

Wage for peace of mind

For those keeping apprised of all the governmental wage increases, now might be a good time to check out the living wage public forum hosted this week by the Victoria Labour Council.

“The living wage is an idea whose time has come,” says Victoria Labour Council President Michael Eso, adding that attending an event like this can set the stage for dialogue and importance. “Help make this idea a reality.”

The forum will give attendees an opportunity to find out more about how a standardized living wage can benefit parents and children trying to live on low wages. Special guest Deborah Littman from the U.K. will speak on the first ever living wage Olympics. April 7, at 2994 Douglas, 7 to 9 p.m. Call 250-384-8331 for more info.