Letter: Trenching another of the thousand cuts killing salmon stocks

Langley’s Larri Woodrow has some comments for PM Justin Trudeau.

Dear Editor,

An open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, re: trenching, a violation of BC’s Streamside Protection Regulation.

In the mid-1990s B.C. began the long, difficult process of drafting and enacting Streamside Protection Regulation measures in an attempt to stem the decline of our precious wild salmon. The legislation and regulations championed by DFO were hard-won by all involved, including DFO, BC Environment, municipal governments, NGOs, Urban Development Institute BC, and concerned citizens. This was a huge, difficult undertaking, but all hammered out legislation and regulations which in the end engaged a large workforce of professional RPBios acting as consultants, interpreters, and in part as regulators. I attended a number of these meetings. In the end all prevailed. While not perfect we enacted Streamside Protection Regulation.

As a Langley Township property owner impacted by new severe conservation measures, I can tell you my family suffered the full financial impact of streamside protection. The regulation assaults a private citizen’s ownership rights: “Top of bank plus 30 meters setback” with no development, no intrusion in this expanded riparian area protected zone. This amounts to expropriation without any form of compensation. My wife and I lost substantial property value.

I began angling for wild salmon and steelhead with my father when a boy in the late 1940s. There’s not been a salmon season since that I’ve missed. I’ve experienced the decline of our stocks. Still, although our personal property equity losses have been substantial, I strongly support wild salmon conservation measures, specifically streamside protection.

In 2012 Harper’s Conservative government gutted our Fisheries Act and his National Energy Board proceeded to bulldoze the Trans Mountain Pipeline through BC for Kinder Morgan supported by Albertans who rank their energy driven economy top-most, and others across our nation who attach a low value to our BC wild salmon.

Our streamside protection measures have been tossed aside and ignored by senior government, the same government who championed our existing BC Streamside Protection Regulations. Our NEB, and by extension you, Mr. Prime Minister, authorized KM to trench across sensitive salmon habitat in complete violation of Streamside Protection Regulations. As a landowner having paid the price of expropriation without compensation to protect habitat, imagine how I feel when you support KM’s authorization to destroy habitat.

The better option – directional drilling beneath stream crossings – avoids in-stream destruction. While directional drilling is, according to one study, six to 10 times more costly to the proponent than trenching, it leaves habitat intact. Directional drilling is the industry standard and a part of the cost of doing business correctly, a small fraction of the total cost of the pipeline.

Was the added cost to the proponent of directional drilling a factor in your decision to support trenching through habitat? Or, have you been unaware of your conflict regarding your support for over-riding our BC Streamside Protection Regulations? And will you continue to use your office to over-ride our wild salmon conservation measures, or will you take immediate steps to correct?

There’s a well used saying here among our wild salmon advocates: “Our salmon are dying, not from a single cause, but from a thousand nicks and cuts.”

Time to put away your knife Mr. Prime Minister.

Larri Woodrow

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