Issue 8

Sunshine Coast BC, Canada

September 2002


A Tale of Our Times
by Linda Williams


    Once upon a time there was a little community called Tuwanek, which existed happily at the foot of Mt. Richardson on Sechelt Inlet. Others, who did not live there, frequently referred to it as the armpit of the Sunshine Coast, but Tuwanek residents were not bothered. They smiled. They thought the others were jealous.
   In years past Tuwanek had been home to a boat- access wilderness lodge/gambling joint/speak-easy/etc., but in the early 1960s all the land along the waterfront and back to the steep slopes was subdivided. Each lot had covenants placed on it prohibiting commercial activities, tourism/rentals and industrial uses. The residential and recreational community of Tuwanek came into being.

   One beautiful day, shocked Tuwanek residents watched as a logging outfit moved its equipment in and set up shop and a log booming ground. The chainsaws started up. Debris was burned on the beach across the bay, on residentially zoned land. The workers were bucking logs to length in the water and soon the bay was full of debris. Tuwanek couldn't hear itself think, and the sky rained soot for months on end.
   When residents complained to the company they were told to get used to it, but they never did. They complained to their regional district representative who agreed that the residents of Tuwanek had every right to be concerned and then, at the eleventh hour, turned on them, calling them unpatriotic and selfish and dismissing their protestations with, "only the people in Tuwanek are yelling".

He said the residential zoning across the bay was a "mistake". From that time forth the armpit dwellers kept their eye on their regional representative and whenever they saw something on the horizon, the community was right there.
   It took five years, and a new Director, but they stopped the Industrial Park rezoning. They stopped the industrial burning, which cast a pall over Tuwanek for six months of the year and was causing severe allergies in most of Tuwanek's children. They fought for and won reasonable hours of operation and constraints on noise.
   In 1986, when the
village of Sechelt, in concert with Victoria, decided to ‘restructure’ outlying communities, Tuwanek was strongly opposed but individual communities did not get to vote themselves in or out.

   Tuwanek residents considered their’s a rural residential community. They worried that the loss of direct accountability to area residents under a municipal government would result in the homogenization of the differences that make each community distinct and the Sunshine Coast interesting. It turned out they were right.
   After all the talk of lower taxes was over and the new brightly color coded zoning maps were produced, Tuwanek found that all the land around them had been slated for one commercial/ industrial use or another and Tuwanek's residential zoning restrictions were to be weakened.

   The Town Hall public hearing was so packed with loud and irate residents, particularly from Sandy Hook, Tillicum Bay and Tuwanek, that Mayor Koch finally stood up and told the community to color the map the way they wanted.