In the mid 1800’s as settlers were arriving on the Saanich Peninsula, the sheltered waters and lush foreshores of Tsehum Harbour and Tsehum Lagoon (then known as Shoal Harbour) were prime habitat for waterfowl and many other wild creatures. Flocks of Brant geese interrupted their migrations to rest here and feed. Commercial hunters harvested them so aggressively that by 1930 the numbers of visiting Brant geese were seriously reduced, so much so that the Government of Canada established a Migratory Bird Sanctuary encompassing Tsehum Harbour and Roberts Bay, as it had done a decade earlier along the foreshore of Victoria.
Establishing these two migratory bird sanctuaries was effective in curtailing over-hunting but has not prevented the degradation of the sanctuary itself due to residential and commercial development on its shores. We also realize that the loosely framed and under-enforced bylaws currently in place in both Sidney and North Saanich have not been effective either in preventing harm to the Sanctuary. Ironically, Tsehum Harbour, Tsehum Lagoon and and Roberts Bay, squarely within the Sanctuary, have become three of the most degraded nearshore areas on the Saanich Peninsula due to (partial list):
- Contaminated runoff from storm sewers, streets and highways, waterfront properties, industrial activities
- Cumulative effects of over 3000 pleasure craft moored in the harbour (anti-fouling paint, fuel and lubricants, garbage and other effluvia (particularly Styrofoam particles))
- Loss of shoreline trees (aging plus removals)
- Degradation of beaches due to seawalls and sea-level rise
The day-to -day stewardship of our local natural endowment (our naturehood) has become the responsibility of local municipal governments staffed by people who we know and who live among us. Thus, as voting citizens, we share with them the responsibility for establishing and directing the necessary stewardship.
Friends of Shoal Harbour is inviting you to join a Community Conversation about Tsehum Harbour and Tsehum Lagoon on Thursday, April 15, 4:00 to 5:00 pm.
We hope that this Community Conversation will result in both energy and ideas in support of initiatives to provide more effective care for of our local NatureHoods
The ZOOM link to this conversation is given below (it will be activated on April 15). Note: this link has been updated on this site at 12:30 pm April 13, 2021
Meeting ID: 830 6412 0709
Here is a link to a document outlining (1) specific purposes of this conversation, (2) the desired outcomes (both short and long term) of our initiative (of which The April 15 conversation will be a part), and (3) an assessment of the current situation.