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On Friday May 5th, 2017, 72 people filled Broughton Hall in Lions Bay/Ch’ich’iyuy Elxwikn for the Howe Sound Community Forum hosted by the Village of Lions Bay and Metro Vancouver’s Electoral Area A.  Broughton Hall is named after former mayor Brenda Broughton, who was the charter chair of the Howe Sound Community Forum, which began in 2000.

Mayor Karl Buhr, Director Maria Harris and Squamish Nation Councillor Chris Lewis welcomed everyone to the Alt’Kitsem/Howe Sound Community Forum.

Andrew Day, Executive Director of the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, started off the presentations with a summary of the OceanWatch Report – Howe Sound Edition and next steps. The report outlines a number of action items, some of which are underway.  Support for the action plan and how the Forum members can play a role was discussed later in the day.

Stephen Foster, Howe Sound Lead for the David Suzuki Foundation, gave an update on the National Park Feasibility Study for Gambier Island and DSF’s intention to follow through on a marine conservation initiative following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Squamish Nation.

Jeff Juthans, Land and Resource Specialist with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Resource Operations, provided an update on the Cumulative Effects Assessment for Howe Sound.  The Interim CEF policy is now online and later this fall, the Ministry website will be hosting the results of the Howe Sound assessment.

Councillor Chris Lewis provided an update from the Squamish Nation.  Projects related to Howe Sound such as Woodfibre LNG and BURNCO aggregate at McNab Creek are still undergoing assessment by the Nation. The Nation has expressed opposition to DFO’s planned pink salmon commercial fishery in Howe Sound this summer.

Lions Bay Beach Park 1950’s

Mayor Karl Buhr of the Village of Lions Bay gave an overview of the municipality‘s challenges and Director Maria Harris provided highlights of the environmental stewardship programs of Metro Vancouver.  Photos of cleanup on Passage and Bowyer Islands were effective in communicating how much debris ends up on the shorelines.

Ric Careless, Executive Director of BC Spaces for Nature, spoke about his leadership on the campaign for BC Parks alliance of conservation, recreation and tourism groups that successfully lobbied the BC government to increase their funding of BC’s Parks, which was announced as the BC Parks Future Strategy last November. One element of this Strategy was the creation of the BC Parks Foundation of which Ric is a founding director and board member.  Ric spoke about the potential of the strategy to enhance conservation and parks in Howe Sound in the future.

After lunch catered by the Lions Bay Cafe, MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones’ assistant read a statement in her absence that was an early announcement of DFO’s intention to enhance the West Vancouver lab into a Science Enterprise Centre.  More information and announcements to come in June.

Updates by representatives from each of the communities included Gibsons, Bowen Island, Squamish, Whistler, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, Islands Trust, West Vancouver, the Gambier Island Local Trust area and Squamish Lillooet Regional District.    Highlights of the information shared was compiled for follow-up by members.

Informal discussions on key issues raised during the Forum for anyone choosing to stay was a new addition to the program.  Four groups continued with lively discussions over: 1) proposed updates to the Principles for Cooperation document to improve recognition of First Nations; 2) sharing data on ecosystems services; 3) education and interpretive opportunities for Howe Sound; and 4) next steps on the OceanWatch Action Plan.

The next forum will be in October 2017.

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