November 9, 2015
The District of Squamish hosted the Howe Sound Community Forum on October 16, 2015. Seventy people attended the meeting of elected officials from communities around Howe Sound. This forum was the second of the year, the first held on May 1st and hosted by the Municipality of Bowen Island.
Mayor Patricia Heintzman welcomed participants to the Squamish Seniors Centre where the forum was held. Chiefs Ian Campbell, Gibby Jacob and Bill Williams welcomed participants to their traditional territory.
MP John Weston took time during his Federal Election campaigning to attend for part of the day. Newly elected Liberal MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, former Mayor of West Vancouver will be invited to attend the next Forum taking place in the spring.
Updates on community initiatives were shared by representatives of Squamish Nation, West Vancouver, Squamish, Gibsons, Lions Bay, Bowen Island, Gambier Island Local Trust, Sunshine Coast Regional District and Metro Vancouver. MLA for West Vancouver /Sea to Sky, Jordan Sturdy, gave an update on the provincial initiatives affecting the region. Water shortages caused by the drought and forest fires this past summer were a common theme that affected each community.
Stephen Foster, Howe Sound Campaign Lead with the David Suzuki Foundation outlined the new State of the Sound project , a joint venture between David Suzuki Foundation, the Vancouver Aquarium’s Coastal Ocean Research Institute and the Squamish Nation. Based on direction that emerged from the Howe Sound Aquatic Forum and the Howe Sound Science and Knowledge Holders Gathering, the project will be a grand gathering of the best science, citizen science, traditional knowledge, etc. and will be told in video, marine mapping, environmental indicator lists, public engagement and more.
Presentations on four major residential/commercial developments slated for Howe Sound were given and attendees were left to ponder the cumulative impacts these developments will have on the region.
- Proposed Redevelopment of Sewell’s Marina at Horseshoe Bay – Andrew Browne, RPP Senior Community Planner, District of West Vancouver
- George – Hotel & Residences– Andre Boel, RPP Director of Planning, Town of Gibsons
- Britannia South , Michael A. Von Hausen, MCIP, RPP, CSLA, MLAUD, LEED AP, President, MVH Urban Planning & Design Inc.
- Squamish Oceanfront – Caroline Lamont Land Development Manager & Jenni Bethel Lands Corporation
After lunch Mayor Heintzman, Neil Plumb, Real Estate Manager and Planner Sarah McJannet from the District of Squamish gave a presentation on the “port” of Squamish, including an overview of Squamish Terminals and the planning that is currently underway for the Mamquam Channel.
A Progress Report on the Cumulative Effects Assessment was provided by Land and Resource Specialist Jeff Juthans of BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Jeff said that while the progress may seem slow to Forum members, the process is moving along well and discussions have been taking place with Environment Canada.
Richard Wiefelspuett gave an introduction to his organization CLEAR SEAS – Centre for Responsible Shipping. The organization was established with a national mandate to provide impartial, evidence-based research and information related to all aspects of safe and sustainable shipping operations in Canadian waters.
Brent Desrocher, Kraft Technical, Environmental & MBOS Manager gave an informative presentation on Howe Sound Pulp and Paper located at Port Mellon, and explained the impact the closing of the Paper side of the operation due to changes in demand for newsprint. The closing coincided with reduction in water supply brought on by the drought this summer.
Edith Tobe, Executive Director of Squamish River Watershed Society, explained the Central Estuary Brownfield Restoration Project. This is a former log sort area that is being restored thanks to the many funders and volunteers.
Throughout the day, Erin Stewart was creating a visual record of the day which will be used for future reference. Squamish Chief journalist Mike Chouinard attended and provided this report.The forum ended with Mayor Heintzman taking a small group on a tour visiting Quest University, the estuary and waterfront area.
The next forum is intended to be hosted by the Town of Gibsons in May 2016.