Sunday, January 28, 2018

      The Burnco proposed Gravel Pit in How Sound          Jan 2018

For a long time many concerned citizens backed by Local Environmental Groups have been protesting a proposed Gravel Extraction Facility at McNab  Creek on the west side of Howe Sound.

This is where there is a small Estuary, formed by the local creek which runs into the Sound.

A large variety of shore life and sub-tidal organisms will be affected. This article which has been forwarded to me gives more background information:

Federal Approval Next Step for Howe Sound Gravel Pit
Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:04pm

Federal Approval Next Step for Howe Sound Gravel Pit
Public Comment for Burnco Aggregate Mine Project open til Jan. 26
By Eric Thompson

PHOTO SUBMITTED - Gravel pit The Canadian Environmental Assessment is accepting public input on the proposed Burnco Aggregate Mine Project

GRAVEL PIT The Canadian Environmental Assessment is accepting public input on the proposed Burnco Aggregate Mine Project
The federal environmental assessment of the proposed Burnco Aggregate Mine Project is nearly complete, meaning after years of public debate, the Howe Sound gravel pit is closer to a conclusion, one way or the other.

The public comment period on the comprehensive study report released by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) runs until Jan. 26. Originally slated to go until Jan. 22, the CEAA extended the comment period after a technical issue limited people's ability to provide comments or access the registry website around New Year's.

Burnco's proposal is for the construction of a sand and gravel mine located at McNab Creek, approximately 22 kilometres southwest of Squamish. The mine's production capacity would be up to 1.6 million tonnes of sand and gravel per year, and is expected to be in operation for around 16 years.

The CEAA's comprehensive study concludes — after considering Burnco's mitigation measures and proposed conditions by the BC Environmental Assessment Office — that the project "is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effect."

However, there is disagreement on these findings. Ruth Simons, executive director of the Future of Howe Sound Society, has a number of issues with how the study was conducted, for example, how they measured potential noise impact on residents and wildlife.

"Being a valley, the sound will reverberate off the mountains and travel across the water," said Simons. "We really do not agree with the way the studies were done. The only standards that they based the assessment on were B.C. Oil and Gas regulations and Health Canada. There are no regulations that are relevant to this type of geography, there's only industrial-based or WorkSafe noise regulations. So I think the reason they end up at these conclusions is because there's not relevant regulations in place to protect pristine, quiet areas."

Along with noise, the biggest public concerns have been over water quality, and what potential affects the project could have on the estuary. Howe Sound has only recently recovered from years of pollution from the Britannia Mine, and it still has some locals on edge.

"Now that the acid rock drainage is being neutralized, we've seen a resurgence of the ecosystem of Howe Sound," said Ken Melamed, Green Party president. "People are celebrating the returns of orcas, dolphins, herring are spawning in greater numbers. We're seeing a revival as a result of, not just de-industrialization, but the active remediation that's been going on. People are really excited about that, and those same people are very concerned about re-industrialization, if you will."

In their proposal, Burnco has been trying to design against potential environmental problems, or putting in remediation to compensate some other way, like the construction of 4,034 square metres of in-stream habitat.

"I'm confident that we've put forward a really strong application. It's up to regulators now to decide if it's in the best interest of the province," said Derek Holmes, Land and Resource Manager for Burnco BC.

As of Jan. 15, the CEAA has received 26 comments from the public and Indigenous groups as part of the comment period.

Following this final public comment period, Catherine McKenna, the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, will consider the report, along with all the comments received and decide whether the project should go ahead as currently constituted.

Though CEAA approval would be a significant step, it wouldn't be the final hurdle for Burnco to break ground in McNab Creek. If granted, the project will then be referred back to Fisheries and Oceans Canada for authorization. The project will also require re-zoning by the Sunshine Coast Regional District.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will then be accountable for ensuring any necessary follow-up and monitoring programs are implemented, so that will play a factor in their review. Simons and Melamed both expressed skepticism over the company following through on proposed clean-up once it gets approval, but Burnco said its reputation is on the line.

"It really comes down to the nature of resource extraction. Our company — which is a Canadian company — has been in business for over 100 years, and it's no mistake that you stay in business by doing what you say you're going to do. Gravel being non-renewable; it needs to be replaced. So this won't be the last project we look to do in the province, and you're really judged by the track record you have on previous projects. I think that your track record stands for itself," said Holmes.

Even still, Simons and the Future of Howe Sound Society plan to keep fighting the project. If necessary, they will send letters to Fisheries and Oceans and engage in the re-zoning applications. Simons is also leading an initiative to get Howe Sound designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve, which would mean a greater focus on sustainable development.

Added Melamed: "Howe Sound is a very special Canadian fjord. We don't have many, especially in such proximity to a major population centre. There's a lot of industrial and development pressures around an area that's so close to Vancouver, so it requires an extra level of diligence in assessing the merits of these various proposals."

So now the latest development:

The March 5 weekly newsletter for our 1st. Nations band members led with this message:
“Dear Squamish People
“On March 1, the Coast Reporter published a story confirming Squamish Nation’s ‘approval’ of the Burnco Aggregate Mine Project at McNab Creek in the Howe Sound without providing the details of the agreement or process. We sincerely regret not informing you about Squamish Nation Council’s position on the project before it came out in the media. This project has been in negotiations before the new term of council was elected since 2010. We had a short window to make a decision due to timing of the provincial and federal process.”
The message goes on to explain that since the provincial and federal environmental assessments did not meet the Nation’s standards, council demanded to assess the project “from our unique perspective based on our inherent title and rights to the land and water.” Burnco agreed, and the Nation hired “independent environmental specialists” to review the project.
The result was a series of conditions that required Burnco to “enter into a legally binding agreement regarding ways to avoid, mitigate or accommodate impacts on our deer/elk, fish, and our access to practice Aboriginal rights; maintain current habitat for our deer and elk; [and] ensure water levels and quality are not affected and fish habitat is constructed. The Nation also won the right to override specific decision-making processes on the operations of the project.”
Council had voted in favour of the agreement two weeks earlier, the newsletter said, and it lists the seven Councillors who voted in favour, three who were opposed, two who abstained and four who were not present.
No details about possible resource-sharing were mentioned, but the next step will be to invite band members to two information meetings where council will “present to our people the terms and conditions we won on a confidential basis.”
So it turns out that while opponents of the Burnco project were focused on critiquing the flaws in the environmental assessment process, Squamish Nation was following a different track entirely, carrying out its own review with its own experts.
As with Woodfibre LNG, the Nation’s leaders can go back to their members and say their assessment, conditions and enforcement tools are more robust and authentic than Victoria’s or Ottawa’s, and that tangible benefits for the community are part of the deal. And as with Woodfibre LNG, both senior governments will likely green-light the project now that the company has obtained First Nation consent.
Last month in Ottawa, in her first speech since she stepped down as B.C. Liberal leader, former premier Christy Clark told a gathering of conservatives that Indigenous communities “are the single most important piece” in the pipeline equation. “If we want to get our resources out to market, we have some incredibly powerful voices on our side,” she said. “So, let’s fight with them.”
It’s an insight that applies across the board in debates over resource extraction. The side that works with Indigenous communities is increasingly the side that wins.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Wild Salmon and Fish Lice Re. Open Net Fish Farming

                                                   Our Wild Salmon and Fish Lice                 January 2018

Over several years there has been much discussion regarding the effect of open net Fish Farming of Salmon on our BC Coasts. It has long been suggested that there is a very real relationship between salmon farming and disease caused by the industry. One particular disease is the devastation apparently caused by Sea lice.
Pressure groups have long been lobbying the Federal Government and our own Provincial Government to step in and address this problem. There has been considerable resistance to this for some time. Here is an open letter from a Mr. Noel Murphy which offers  considerable  weight to the issue, Perhaps we can now move forward:


Most of you are aware of the steady decline of our salmon stocks in recent years. While some natural causes are partly responsible, man-made open-pen fish farms are suspected of having the greatest single impact to the decline of our fisheries. The following examples are noteworthy:

• Global Warming - Dry summers result in extremely long spells of low water-levels in the rivers and creeks. This makes it challenging for juvenile salmon trying to survive under these adverse conditions. • Questionable management of our fisheries, at the Provincial level. • Relaxed enforcement of Fishing Regulations. • Foreign owned pen-net fish-farms, many in critical areas of our coastal waters.

While some issues are more difficult than others to correct, what we really need is a genuine and concerted effort on the part of DFO to address our concerns. This department should assume responsibility and be required to provide accountability and transparency.

I suggest to DFO that they take a look at other North American management policies, and compare them to our own. The Alaskan Fisheries Program is a recommended model and worth reviewing.

Of the many issues impacting our salmon, the greatest danger by far (in my opinion) is posed by open-net fish farms. Primarily Norwegian owned, this farming concept has quite a reputation for decimating local wild fisheries wherever their fish farms have been implemented. Their unfavourable history is well recorded and documented. Originating in Europe, the wild salmon fishery in Norway has been decimated. Coastal inlets in Ireland that harboured fish farms, lost their runs of salmon and sea trout, while estuaries free of fish farms were less affected. Scotland’s salmon fisheries suffered tremendous losses, with the blame placed directly on the open-net fish farms.

Why are we in British Columbia allowing the risk of having our irreplaceable wild stocks wiped out? Replacing our salmon stocks is not as simple as building more hatcheries and producing more fish. Specific gene pools are irreplaceable. Gene pool diversity in the salmon populations are critical to the species survival. We have lost some genetic strains in the past; the Fulford Creek run of Coho salmon in Salt Spring Island for one. This unique run of fish was wiped out in the 1980’S, a prime example of mismanagement.

Why is DFO so protective of fish farms? Fish farms and wild salmon are in direct conflict. There is an old Hebrew (biblical) expression, “you cannot serve God and Mammon (money)”. Neither can DFO claim to serve the interests of the wild salmon, while protecting the interests of

Marine Harvest and other fish farms related activities. These are strictly business people, concerned only with their “bottom line”, and protecting the interests of their shareholders.  What about the rights of our indigenous people? Their future access to fish for both food and ceremonial purposes appears to be threatened. Where is DFO’S responsibility to ensure that this does not happen? Surely you are not telling them to “Buy Farm Fish!”   Why is DFO preventing the scrutiny of Peer Reviews surrounding the testing for HSMI’s? PEER REVIEWS SHOULD BE OPEN TO SCRUTINY AND ACCOUNTABILITY. TRANSPARENCY IS ALSO REQUIRED. An independent review of this policy is warranted.

We in the sports fishing industry contribute significantly to our provincial economy and should not be dismissed so easily. We are also concerned for the future of our native salmon. Neither should our efforts towards conservation and environmental causes be under estimated. For too long we have had no lobbying power, and therefore we have no voice in matters that affect us. The decimation to our wild fish, resulting from the irresponsible activities of the fish farming industry is far-reaching. Fish farming impacts the livelihood of our industry professionals, (sports fishing shops, charter boat owners, guides etc.) A common aftermath, caused by an industry with a horrific reputation for fish and habitat decimation on a worldly scale and very little credibility.

Marine Harvest is a foreign conglomerate that appears to have very little regard for others, including the people of this province. Their disregard for our wild salmon goes without saying. Now it is up to us to protect our fish and our waters; they are our children’s inheritance.  I personally have lost confidence in DFO’S ability to protect or manage our fishery, I assure you that the same opinion is widely held throughout the sports fishing industry. Perhaps we are expecting too much from a reformed Commercial Fisheries lobby group!

We cannot let our salmon disappear like the cod fish in Eastern Canada, I feel that we are very close to that right now. Removing the open-net fish farms, would (in my opinion) be a step in the right direction. A dedicated fish management/protection department, with substantial input from the sports fishing industry, should be considered. Listen to Joni Mitchell’s song: “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’VE GOT ‘TILL IT’S GONE.”

Most of us anglers are conservationists and release most of our catch. We are also stream keepers, and are witnesses, first hand, to the dramatically reduced salmon returns to our spawning streams. It is time to for change, while there are still some salmon left to preserve and protect.

Of the many critics and testimonials relating to the state of our salmon fishery and related issues, I refer you to the following links:

Part One:;article=10231 Part Two:

Please read all pertinent information and show your support for eliminating fish farms by writing to your local MLA, requesting the implementation of new regulations that will preserve and protect our salmon fisheries before it’s too late.


Noel Murphy

Sunday, January 21, 2018


Well I am now back after several years and will be posting here some nonsense as time goes by....Stay tuned.