The Qualicum Nature Preservation Society is a small conservation group driven by volunteer parents who view the conservation of our natural world as the greatest gift we can give our children. We chose to raise our families in paradise here in Qualicum Beach, a small village on Vancouver Island nestled by beautiful, abundant and yet ever-shrinking forests.
Our village is situated in the rarest and arguably the most ecologically important biogeoclimatic zone in British Columbia. The Coastal Douglas Fir zone contains 282 provincially listed at-risk species, yet only covers less than 0.3% of British Columbia's total area. Despite its incredibly rich biodiversity, our home is critically endangered with the least amount of protection for any zone and less than 1% of its old-growth remaining.
The significant values of rare Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystems are why we live, work and play in a UNESCO designated biosphere region.
The rural Estate Residential forest spans 200 acres and contains a highly-productive & extremely rare old-growth Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem known as the scenic gateway to our village.
So when the first of likely many residential developments threatened this iconic treasure, the community rallied against what the previous mayor labeled the “thin edge of the wedge”. At the public hearing, an overwhelming 76% of the citizens speaking defended our values, bylaws and vision for these amazing and ecologically important properties.
The day before a municipal by-election, our society and other private citizens in our community were served by developers Richard and Linda Todsen as the second public hearing approached.
For raising our voices for the voiceless, we have already endured harassment, tresspassing and vandalism. But now we face a strategic lawsuit, and with it, fear and stress for our families.
No one should have to face a lawsuit for defending our environment and speaking on behalf of our communities.
We are asking the Supreme Court of BC to dismiss our suit pursuant to the new Protection of Public Participation Act. We believe this will create a precedent to ensure our public spaces are safe for everyone to create a better future together.
QNPS is a volunteer organization stuck in a consequential David vs Goliath struggle. We are grateful for—and dependent on—any donation from those who believe in the environment and free-speech.
Tree Speech is a province-wide movement aimed at ensuring those who care for the environment can participate in the public process without fear of bullying, intimidation and harassment.
The only way to protect our environment is to speak out, so we need to create a culture of acceptance; a world where we can raise our voices for the voiceless and speak for our future generations.
If you are an organization, business or municipality, take the pledge! Stand for a better world.
July 30th, 2021 - It is with great gratitude to announce that we have now surpassed our $32,000 dollar fundraising goal for our legal defense. We are so overwhelmed with emotion and proud to live in this community and British Columbia! We will continue to allow contributions for unexpected cost overruns and to provide relief for the families & lives impacted by this lawsuit.
July 26th, 2021 - The Court has ordered that an expedited dismissal hearing will be heard in Victoria or Vancouver, likely in late October. We are inching one step closer to securing free-speech in British Columbia.
July 13th, 2021 - The Narwhal reports on the Todsen suit details, and the broader implications of our application for dismissal.
July 12th, 2021 - The Tyee takes on free speech in Qualicum Beach by contextualizing the the suit brought by Richard Todsen, Linda Todsen and Todsen Design & Construction Ltd and explaining the Protection of Public Participation Act.
July 6th, 2021 - Today, our journey towards protected free-speech begins. Our counsel filed for a dismissal order pursuant to the Protection of Public Participation Act. Our application states, "This claim was brought in bad faith and was brought with the improper purpose of intimidating the applicant and others and to discourage their public participation and limit free expression during a municipal election and during a public rezoning process".
July 5th, 2021 - We are so excited to announce that with donations from all around the province and legal grants from West Coast Environmental Law's Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund, we have already surpassed 75% of our Stage 1 fundraising goal. As volunteers, we are eternally grateful for all the support and generosity! Thank you for sending a message to all monied interests—past, present and future—that if they are going to take on an environmental advocate, they are going to have to take on the entire province of British Columbia!
The Qualicum Nature Preservation Society believes that in order to build a better tomorrow, we must speak to our values. We must be able to participate, freely and unfettered, in the democratic process. We must be the voice for the voiceless, whether that be our old growth, our children, the disempowered, the intimidated or the tinest creatures in the forest. When we raise our voices in unison, we have the power to create change and usher in an age of fairness, peace and sustainability.
We also believe that when our speech is subject to the tyranny of economic or political power, it is our children's future at stake. Never can a greater harm come to our democratic institutions than when our reasoned voices fall victim to retribution, intimidation and ultimately silence. For democracy to flourish—and with it our communities and our ecosystems—we must have safe spaces to speak.
While we did not ask to be in this position, the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society is honoured to be leading an effort to promote security and safety for those who participate in the public process. We have assembled a legal team of some of the finest minds in Canada--including Chris Tollefson-- to put the newly implemented Protection of Public Participation Act (PPPA) to the test in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
As we labor for free speech—not just ourselves, but for all citizens and communities in British Columbia—we ask that you join us and be a part of this effort to secure democracy by donating or sharing; let us not allow free-speech to become as endangered as our ecosystems in a time when we see this unprecedented boom in development. Our voices must be free to reign in the abuses against our ecosystems and communities in the name of profit.
While we fight in the Supreme Court, we also believe it is time for all of British Columbia to stand up and reject bullying, intimidation and harassment for those who participate in the public process and defend our biosphere. It is time to create a culture of safety and acceptance for speaking out for those who cannot speak themselves.
This is a monumental endevour that we cannot do alone. Please join us in our effort to make it safe to speak out for our beliefs by donating or sharing our campaign. It is together that we can build that better tomorrow for our children, our communities and the pale blue dot we all share.
With Sincere Appreciation,
The Qualicum Nature Preservation Society