B.C. Greens Sound Alarm on Comox Valley Drought Crisis, Offer Sustainable Solutions

June 18, 2024

K'ÓMOKS FIRST NATION TERRITORY / COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – Arzeena Hamir, the party's candidate for Courtenay-Comox, held a press conference today to address the escalating drought situation in the Comox Valley and outline the B.C. Green Party’s proposed solutions.

"The Comox Valley is facing a severe water crisis that threatens the region's agriculture, ecosystems, and way of life," said Furstenau. "With below-average rainfall, diminishing snowpack, and the potential loss of glaciers, urgent action is needed to ensure water security for farmers, residents, and the environment."

Farmers and environmental advocates have raised concerns about the legacy of farming and the survival of salmon runs and ecosystems in the region without immediate action. 

Hamir, a local farmer, echoed these concerns, stating, "Our community's future hinges on responsible water and watershed management. We need an amnesty for farmers to water crops during this drought, exemptions for water storage dugouts, and sustainable policies that prioritize conservation over corporate interests." 

The B.C. Greens are proposing the following measures to address the drought:

Streamlined approval process for water storage dugouts: Creating a streamlined process for farmers to install dugouts for water storage for farmers to install dugouts for water storage for crop irrigation.

Prioritizing food production: Ensuring the province prioritizes food production, like crop irrigation, as a top priority during the drought period to support food security.

Sustainable water management policies: Overhauling the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) to prioritize ecosystems and food security over industrial usage, including eliminating the "First in Time, First in Right" principle to ensure equitable water distribution that reflects the values and needs of communities.

Support for communities and farmers: Emphasizing the need for comprehensive support for communities and farmers affected by drought conditions, including holistic watershed management practices and engaging the forestry sector in discussions about the hydrological impacts of clear-cutting practices.

Water management and sustainability table: Creating a water management and sustainability table for the Comox Valley that includes First Nations, local government, farmers, forestry, mining, industry stakeholders, and streamkeepers to manage water resources collaboratively and effectively.

The Comox Valley has experienced below-average rainfall for several years, leading to a multi-year drought. The region's snowpack and glaciers, which typically replenish rivers and lakes during dry summers, are rapidly diminishing, exacerbating water scarcity. 

"The NDP and B.C. United have ignored this looming crisis, putting corporate interests ahead of our vital water resources," said Furstenau. "Only the B.C. Greens are committed to evidence-based policies that safeguard our water for future generations." 

The B.C. Greens have long advocated for sustainable water management, highlighting the need for public protections and oversight in the resource sector.  The party aims to bring transformative leadership to local communities, ensuring their voices are integral in shaping policies that affect their lives and environment.

Hamir added, "We need to stop giving our water away to big corporations who waste it, pollute it, and don’t respect it. The BC NDP is no different and gives away our water to big oil and gas, just like the BC Liberals did before them. Only the B.C. Greens are committed to sustainable water management."

Validator Quotes:

Bruce Gibbons, head of the local Water Guardians Group, commented, "I am at this press conference because water issues are critical in the Comox Valley right now. B.C. will face prolonged and severe drought again this year, and the government needs to take more proactive steps. The B.C. Green Party is the only party that understands the threats to our water resources and is willing to take necessary actions to protect and conserve our water for farmers and residents. The Water Sustainability Act should be used for conservation, but it is mostly used to issue water extraction licenses for a few companies to profit. Sonia Furstenau continues to be a strong ally in protecting our water and holding the government accountable. Water is becoming more critical and threatened, and I believe the B.C. Green Party will take action to protect our resources."

Jaclyn Kirby, owner of Yellow Boot Farm, commented, "When we started our small farm three years ago, we were unaware of the new water licensing requirements. Despite thoroughly checking our water usage and well details, the application process was confusing, with different answers each time we called. Eventually, I cancelled my application, and the landowners applied to ensure continuity for future tenants. We were told it would take years to get approved, and then our application was cancelled because we're on an aquifer of concern. Our farm is small, and while I understand the need to manage water use, access to water is essential for local food production. The fees are burdensome for small farms, especially with rising costs for farm tools, seeds, and insurance. We cannot afford above-ground water collection, and existing grants do not adequately support small farms like ours."



For interviews and more information, please contact:

Rippon Madtha (he/him)
Communications Manager
[email protected]
Phone: +1 778-650-0597
Livestream recording 


  • The B.C. government introduced groundwater licensing requirements in 2016, but delays have plagued the process, leaving many water users in limbo. This has added stress to farmers and communities already struggling with water scarcity.

  • New regulations require all non-domestic groundwater users to obtain licenses, a process that has been slow and frustrating for many farmers. This has significant implications for water management and irrigation during droughts. 

  • Farmers on Vancouver Island are concerned about the future of agriculture in the region amid increasing water shortages. These challenges are exacerbated by regulatory delays and inadequate government support. Recent changes to B.C.'s water use regulations have led to significant challenges for farmers and communities, with fears of a "train wreck" as these rules begin to impact daily operations. 

About the B.C. Green Party: 
Established in February 1983, the B.C. Green Party holds the distinction of being North America's oldest Green Party. Our policies comprehensively address a broad array of public concerns, with a deep commitment to environmental stewardship, economic vitality, and social justice. We advocate for a government that upholds democratic principles and makes evidence-based decisions.

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