Category:

Protecting Quality and Ecology

MITIGATING A CATASTROPHIC ROCKSLIDE ON THE SEYMOUR RIVER, NORTH VANCOUVER: “We have been working on this for four years so, for the community, this is just great news. It’s fabulous news. I’m handing out cigars like a new father,” said Shaun Hollingsworth, president of the Seymour Salmonid Society, which has led the rescue effort (Dec 2015 through 2019)


“Big thanks are owed to the six governments – local, provincial, and federal as well as Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations – in addition to a host of NGOs, who have worked on the project,” stated Shaun Hollingsworth. “It’s thrilling. It’s unbelievable. It’s just a great feeling and I just want those who have been part of it to be proud of what they’ve done. When I go and sit at the rock slide, I believe that it’s fish passable, and Mother Nature is proving my gut feel correct.”

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RESTORATION OF ARIZONA’S SANTA CRUZ WATERSHED: “We should rejoice alongside the Tohono O’Odham Nation and work with it to restore flow to our rivers and quicken our pace towards a more resilient future,” wrote Lisa Shipek, Executive Director of the Tuscon-based Watershed Management Group non-profit organization


“Our rivers are being reborn after a century of decline. This is a defining moment for all the communities that live in our Santa Cruz Watershed. It’s not just the Santa Cruz that is being reborn. I have good news to share from other parts of our watershed. The nonprofit I direct, Watershed Management Group, has been monitoring creek flows across the Tucson basin since 2017,” stated Lisa Shipek. “Having flow in the Santa Cruz River downtown provides a daily visual of what a desert river looks like, which will help open the hearts and minds of the greater community to what is possible.”

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THE FUTURE IS HERE, NOW: ‘Elders in Action’ trigger rethink of sewage treatment strategy for the replacement Lions Gate facility serving Metro Vancouver’s North Shore sub-region (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Fall 2019)


The decision to build a treatment plant has life-cycle implications that are multi-generational in terms of environmental outcomes – for example, the existing Lions Gate facility has been in service for 58 years. Drawing on their unique combination of expertise, these elders focussed political attention on the need to be visionary and dare to be bold in going beyond what is currently minimum standard of practice. “By making presentations to community groups and business leaders, we have experienced how public and political sentiments can be shifted,” stated Glen Parker.

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REPORT ON PROTECTION OF DRINKING WATER: British Columbians are not adequately being informed of the ongoing risks associated with the province’s drinking water, according to Carol Bellringer, B.C.’s auditor general (July 2019)


Report tells a classic story of how a government initiative, launched with the best of intentions, lost momentum over the years as the sense of urgency faded and other priorities took over. “We undertook this audit because of the considerable importance of safe drinking water and because the risks to drinking water are increasing. Thankfully, B.C. has not had a known outbreak of water-borne illness since 2004, but just a single event that contaminates a drinking water system can cause serious health impacts for numerous people,” Carol Bellringer said.

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SHELLY CREEK ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “This is a story about how a local group of streamkeepers has morphed from a focus on salmon and trout habitat restoration, to advocates for ecosystem monitoring of watershed functions… the Whole System Approach,” stated Peter Law, President of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society, in a session on ‘Watershed Health and You’ at the Parksville 2019 Symposium (watch on YouTube)


“Since 2010, Our volunteers have embraced the idea of monitoring aquatic ecosystems and habitats in our watershed, often times partnering with agencies, local governments or private landowners to identify the status of certain indicators. We called the program ‘Watershed Health and You’,” stated Peter Law. “We are engaging our neighbours who live in the watershed, to discuss how the community can help restore Shelly Creek. The legacy of Faye Smith, and her mantra of engaging the community continues.”

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INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE SALMON: “I like to say to people that after 100 years of research, we know a lot about salmon, but what we need to know most, we mostly don’t know,” stated Dr. Richard Beamish, Scientist Emeritus with the Pacific Biological Research Station in Nanaimo


In 2012, Dick Beamish proposed the International Year of the Salmon to promote research on how ocean conditions are contributing to changes. IYS has now grown into an effort to ensure the “resilience of both salmon and people” in a changing climate. In embarking on this journey, British Columbians can learn from historical precedents and parallels. In particular, the “salmon crisis” in the 1990s was a game-changer in the way it was the catalyst for green infrastructure practices. A generation later, will lightning strike twice and will the iconic salmon again be the regulatory driver that spurs communities to raise the bar to “improve where we live”?

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ROADS TRUMP RIVERS IN AUSTRALIA: “The question is: can we not reorient the infrastructure model to protection and restoration of waterways? We need to turn urban streams back into functioning ecosystems,” wrote Bruce Lindsay, Environmental Justice Australia


“Freeways and waterways are not incompatible. But the legal privilege and financing of infrastructure is a question of priorities and perspectives and, for the sake of healthy communities and places, we need to give far greater priority to the city’s green infrastructure. The model of infrastructure laws and funding for freeways can potentially provide a model for protection, repair and restoration of urban waterways,” says Bruce Lindsay. “If it is necessary to acquire land along waterways, drive innovation in building and engineering standards, and use public finance to enable a restoration economy, then we should do it.”

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Governments of Canada and British Columbia announce ‘B.C. Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund’: “Wild salmon are deeply woven into B.C.’s cultural, social and economic fabric,” stated Premier John Horgan (March 2019)


“When it comes to our wild salmon stocks, there is no better indicator of the challenges we face than rising water temperatures, low snow pack, rivers that aren’t full with enough water to sustain our salmon, and that’s where we need to intervene,” said Premier John Horgan. “The salmon don’t know boundaries. The orca don’t know boundaries. They don’t know jurisdictions, one order of government over another. All they know is that humans have been interfering in their life cycles and it’s time for humans to get in the game and make a better choice and better decisions and help the salmon survive.”

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IMPROVING WHERE WE LIVE: “Engagement of community through stewardship is a credible formula to be encouraged and mainstreamed at every opportunity,” states Eric Bonham – as a Director in the B.C. Ministry of Environment in the 1990s, Eric oversaw the highly successful Urban Salmon Habitat Program


“Stewardship operates under a different dynamic than the private sector or government. Stewards are drawn together for a common cause, like-minded individuals with a vision for the greater good,” states Eric Bonham. “This purpose is not to be found in the policy manuals of government, nor in regulations or legislation. Rather, it is built upon an enthusiastic personal commitment and passion by a band of individuals to make a difference. Financial gain is not a factor, nor is fame, and hard work is not grudged.”

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WATERSHED HEALTH AND YOU: At the Parksville 2019 Symposium, Gilles Wendling elaborates on “Groundwater & Surface Water Interaction in the Englishman River Watershed: One Water – Always Moving”


Because he looked at groundwater differently in the Englishman River, Dr. Gilles Wendling has advanced the science and he has developed a practical application of water balance thinking. His contributions to science-based understanding extend beyond the technical and into the communication and education realm. His work provides a bridge between rainfall and stream health.

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