On April 29, 2016, 80 elected officials, First Nations, government staff and NGO representatives travelled by water taxis departing from Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Island, Lions Bay and Langdale for a day at Camp Fircom on Gambier Island.
Camp Fircom was an excellent venue for the forum hosted by the Gambier Island Local Trust Area and lived up to its reputation of being a “first class and down to earth Howe Sound camp venue”. Jeff Willis, Camp Director gave an inspiring presentation about the camp’s good work and partnerships. Camp Fircom hosts Camp Suzuki that empowers children and young adults to champion conservation as well as becoming a popular wedding venue.
After the traditional welcome from Chiefs and Council from the Squamish Nation, municipal and regional representatives provided updates on current activities and issues relevant to Howe Sound. District of West Vancouver Councillor Bill Soprovich drew applause after his reading of a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau signed by Mayor Smith being circulated for signature by other Mayors regarding opposition to Woodfibre LNG.
MLA Jordan Sturdy provided an update on Provincial initiatives, one being the recent announcement of legislation passed to expand the Halkett Bay Provincial Marine Park, that protects the prehistoric glass sponge reefs. Mr. Sturdy was thanked by the Howe Sound Forum for his support of the protection of the Howe Sound reefs. Other updates included Provincial spending on upgrades to cycling infrastructure on the Sea to Sky Highway.
MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones was attending for the first time as MP and shared her government’s actions on preparing for a bill regarding the ongoing derelict boat problem. Ms. Goldsmith-Jones related her Marin County, California experience to that of Howe Sound. As former Mayor of West Vancouver, she was familiar with the forum and was impressed by the level of participation and content that will help her back in Ottawa.
Dr. Julie Gardner, partner with Dovetail Consulting, presented on the Squamish Nation’s process and progress of Howe Sound Marine Use Planning. Julie is the Nation’s consultant on this project and she referred to the model followed when developing the Xay Temixw Sacred Land Use Plan. A similar process, explained in the video about the development of the plan is being applied to the marine planning.
Karin Bodtker, Marine Manager for Coastal Oceans Research Institute, Vancouver Aquarium, provided an overview of the Coastal Ocean Health Report that is being produced for Howe Sound. The report will contain data and stories about not only marine species, but a range of factors that affect the waters of Howe Sound. In partnership with David Suzuki Foundation and Squamish Nation, this report has evolved from the outcomes of 2014 & 15 Aquatic Forums and the work of Stephen Foster, Howe Sound Lead, Suzuki Foundation. Special events are being held in May and June in the lead up to the report being released by the end of the year.
After a delicious farm to table lunch, the forum resumed with Gambier Island Trustee Kate-Louise Stamford who initiated a dialogue regarding the long list of residential, commercial, industrial and recreational development proposals. Following the October 16th forum held in Squamish, the members have been considering the transportation implications of increased populations and popularity of the Sea to Sky corridor. While the Province awaits the technical studies of a Sunshine Coast-Lower Mainland highway link, the cumulative impacts of all the growth on the area are concerning. B.C.’s tourism growth adds to the question of how to manage the impacts. There were a number of actions resulting from the dialogue that will be followed up on in the coming months.
Jeff Juthans, Land and Resource Specialist with the BC Ministry of Forest, Lands and Resource Operations, explained the Howe Sound Cumulative Effects Project Update. Draft policy is available for comment now and preliminary results on a number of values will be released within the year that will be used in planning going forward.
Town of Gibsons Councillor Jeremy Valeriote and CAO Emanuel Mechado presented the Town’s revised practise that integrates nature into their decision making, using key principles of Asset Management, Financial Planning and Ecology. In 2014 the Town deemed nature to be its most valuable asset and have redefined Infrastructure to include inheritance of Natural Capital. Their presentation Nature’s Role as Infrastructure explains the new policy and practise.
The final presentation was from Russ Hostenpiller, CAO of Islands Trust, and Clare Frater, Policy Analyst. Clare’s presentation on Islands Trust Council’s Advocacy for the Islands and the Salish Sea drew applause at the slide of the Trust’s policy statement” It is Trust Council’s policy that no island in the Trust Area should be connected to Vancouver Island, the mainland or another island by a bridge or tunnel, notwithstanding the existing bridge between North and South Pender Islands.” Public consultations for the fixed link study will be taking place in June and results will be presented at the next Howe Sound Community Forum to be arranged for October.