General · 13th July 2009
Well, it has been two weeks since my last report. How time flies! The last report was about one issue: the fish farm rezoning application that was dealt with at our last Board meeting.
I would like to add a couple of comments to that report.
At the same meeting of the Board, we passed a resolution, unanimously, that will go to the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September. As many of you know, this is the organization that represents all local governments in BC. Our resolution stated the following:
Whereas the Province of BC receives significant economic benefits from both wild and farmed salmon and depends on the future security, viability and stability of both sectors;
And Whereas emerging closed containment aquaculture technologies offer the ability to separate commercially farmed salmon from the natural environment, limiting negative environmental impacts, especially the transmission of diseases and parasites between farmed and wild salmon;
Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) requests that the Provincial and Federal Governments immediately allocate sufficient funds to ensure the establishment of a closed system aquaculture innovation and development fund;
And Therefore Be It Further Resolved That the UBCM request that the Provincial and Federal Governments create and implement a plan to transition open net-cage salmon farms to closed containment system aquaculture as soon as commercially available.
Up until now, no level of government has been willing to take on the issue of closed containment research and development nor promotion of the same. We, as a Board, supported a joint presentation by the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (the environmental side), and Marine Harvest Canada (the fish farm side), which asked us to request funding for closed containment research and development from the Province. This would be a three-way funding proposal. All parties would contribute. We supported it and we wrote to the Premier to make the request. We have still not heard back from anyone in government. Hence the resolution to UBCM to get the attention of the other levels of government that should be concerned with this provincial and federal issue. We are concerned about the health of wild stocks and we are doing everything possible to promote closed containment technology.
Since the Board meeting that I described in the last issue of my report, we have received two very welcome responses from two well known conservation groups. The first came from the Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA), the best known defender of our coastal marine ecosystems. In an email to us, the GSA had the following to say:
"I appreciate your intention to use the Gunner Point Salmon Farm zoning application to leverage change in the industry. No one in government has attempted to do this before now and I applaud your creativity.
I would like the opportunity to talk with you about how to most effectively leverage the change in the industry we all would like to see.
I also appreciate the long and careful attention you have given to this important issue. I know it can’t be easy."
The second offer came from the Wilderness Tourism Association (WTA) President, also offering to work with the Strathcona Regional District to help us implement our Board resolution. The WTA represents a very substantial percentage of the wilderness tourism sector, all of whom are concerned about our coastal ecosystems.
So, I am heartened by these two major offers of help to make our proposal work for both wild and farmed salmon. So far our compromise position is doing as intended. I know that there are constituents out there that are not pleased with the compromise that we presented. Strategic action is not always supported by some people, especially when it was difficult for us to explain all of our rationale due to the constraints of the Local Government Act leading up to and after the public hearing. It is too soon to determine the results of our actions, but we have made an attempt at making our coast a better place while still looking after the fish and the jobs of both the wild and farmed sectors.
On other fronts
Although the fish farm issue has totally consumed us for the past many months, that has not slowed the pace of all of the other activities that I have had to continue to be involved in:
* The Granite Bay Hydro line completion - application for Federal funding is in and I am following up on it weekly with our MP, John Duncan
* Transfer of School District properties on Quadra and Stuart Islands to the Regional District for community purposes - Meetings set for Sept.
* Site visit to Sonora Island to view a run of the river project that will remove Sonora Lodge from diesel generated power - Visit Sept 8th.
* Site visit to Evans Bay to determine that feasibility of taking over the Evans Bay Wharf
* Meeting with Transport Canada regarding the Evans Bay Wharf - July 21st.
* Public Hearings in both Gold River and Oyster River on major developments
* Attended the Electoral Area Service Committees (which I chair), The Committee of the Whole and the SRD Board meetings.
* Attended the Chief Administration Officer Evaluation Committee and the Transition Team meetings (from CSRD to SRD)
* Attended the UBCM Offshore Oil and Gas Committee meeting in Vancouver. (I am the SRD representative)
* Attended the UBCM Electoral Area Director's Forum in Vancouver - our one chance each year to discuss only rural issues!
* Attended the Bute Inlet update meeting on June 29th.
* Many meetings with organizations and individuals on Quadra
That is just a sampling of the things that are going on.
One issue that has come before the SRD is that the Cape Mudge Band has applied for rezoning of the area that they staked for a Temporary Industrial Use Permit (TIUP) about a year ago. They now want to rezone it for long-line shellfish aquaculture. I have not seen the results of their testing that was to be done under the TIUP. This will be advertised when it comes up for public hearing. It comes before the Committee this week.
Feel free to call me between the hours of 8:30 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday (not on weekends, folks!) at 285-3355, or you can fax me at 285-3533 or you can email me anytime at abramfamoberon.ark.com , or by mail at Box 278 in the Cove, V0P 1N0... Lots of choices!
Director, Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD