Friends of Shoal Harbour Welcomes Incoming Councils in Sidney and North Saanich

Arbutus in rain at Nymph Point Park, a sacred first Nations site in Tsheum  (Shoal) Harbour

Arbutus in rain at Nymph Point Park, a sacred first Nations site in Tsheum (Shoal) Harbour

After vigorous campaigns and high voter turnout, both Sidney and North Saanich have elected “refreshed” Councils for the next four years. Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH) congratulates both returning and newly elected Mayors and Councillors and looks forward to a productive relationship with both Councils.

Appended below are (1) a letter from FOSH president, Hugh Richards to all Council candidates in Sidney and North Saanich and (2) the concluding portion of the report mentioned in !1) above.  Item (2) serves as a template for FOSH activities in the coming year.

Dear Candidate,

Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH), a citizens’ initiative promoting the enjoyment and protection of the 1931 Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, is pleased to attach the report ” The 2013 Seawall Incident : What FOSH learned”. This document is a summary of events, beginning with the development permit process for the construction of two adjacent seawalls on the boundary of Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, an area designated as Environmentally Sensitive Lands, subject to shoreline erosion from existing seawalls and rising sea levels.  

The degradation of coastal habitats from insensitive development is an international problem, and a visible local problem that should concern  North Saanich and Sidney, elected Councils and citizens alike, who share responsibility for the Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Contrary to the commonly-held view that Sanctuary is a write-off beyond redemption, it continues, albeit diminished, to shelter a richness of wild creatures, including many migratory birds. 

The abovementioned document is a summation of the seven reports referenced, and relates a long history of indifference towards the Sanctuary from all levels of government dating back to 1977. This summary also describes attempts to develop a community vision or an integrated management plan for what is arguably one of our community’s greatest natural assets and makes it clear that all such attempts will fail without he resolve of the municipalities of North Saanich and Sidney. Moreover the document points out the very weak protection of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary offered by the Official Community Plans of both municipalities. 

If you are elected we hope that you will endorse and support the efforts of FOSH in working towards a municipally-led integrated management plan for Tsehum Harbour and Roberts Bay, a plan that recognizes and protects the natural value of the 1931 Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary contained therein. FOSH would be pleased to receive your comments on this communication. 

Sincerely,  

Hugh Richards, Chair, FOSH

WHAT FOSH LEARNED FROM THE JULY 2013 SEAWALL INCIDENT 

  • The July 2013 seawall incident has made it clear to FOSH that its long term goals are unlikely to be achieved through an adversarial approach that might include risky legal action. Nevertheless FOSH should remain vigilant regarding activities impinging on the Migratory Bird Sanctuary and continue to seek answers to the difficult questions from the appropriate authorities.
  • FOSH’s principal effort should be to advocate for an integrated management plan for the Shoal Harbour area jointly directed by the Municipalities of Sidney and North Saanich, a plan that includes adequate protection for the Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Ultimately it will be public support and volunteer effort along with a collaborative partnership with the various local, provincial and federal governments that will lead to success and the development and implementation of such a plan. To this end specific activities of FOSH should include:

 

  1. Friendly reviews of the Official Community Plans of both Sidney and North Saanich pointing out ways in which the plans could be more clear and more protective regarding the foreshore environment and the Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular.
  2. Efforts to publicize the existence and value of SHMBS and thereby to build a public clientele supportive of the joint management plan initiative.
  3. Cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Habitat Acquisition Trust, Peninsula Streams, Nature Canada and other environmental advocacy groups to educate the public and involve them in our programs. Reaching out to other groups will help to embed FOSH in a supportive environmental advocacy network.
  4. Persuading the Federal Government to extend the boundaries of SHMBS to include the offshore islets from Roberts Point to Rothesay Ave, and to include the Migratory Bird Sanctuary within the proposed Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.
  5. Continuing to organize “unofficial” conferences, symposia, etc. promoting a joint management plan for Shoal Harbour, gatherings that include all stakeholders.
  6. Embracing, celebrating and investing in the legacy of the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary. 

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