Letters: Brydon Lagoon promises offer little trust

Dear Editor,

I encourage those interested in the future of Brydon Lagoon to not become too optimistic about results.  

In 1992 when the 51B Avenue bridge was built, significant meadowland was lost, and along with it many species that had previously made the meadow their home.

The environmental impact assessment by Envirowest acknowledged that “fish and wildlife habitat would be eliminated.”

There were numerous mitigation measures to be taken during construction to minimize loss of amphibians and other wildlife. And there would be compensation for those habitats impacted.

Compensation included the creation of “fish and wildlife habitats to increase both the abundance and diversity of fish and wildlife… 0.60 ha of cattail marsh within two partially separate basins… and waterfowl nesting islands would be created within each of the two basins.”   Scrubland would also be created.  

The report adds, “The areal extent of open water and marsh habitats would be substantially increased (at least double) through the creation of compensation habitats… increasing the productive capacity of the immediate floodplain area for fish and wildlife is the primary objective… In turn, this would increase opportunities for wildlife viewing and nature interpretation.”  

At the Environmental Impact Assessment Meeting on July 9, 1991, Mark Adams of Envirowest noted, “The proposed wildlife viewing platforms would be strategically placed to enhance viewing without compromising fish and wildlife resource values… location of viewing stations will be placed in direct consultation with the City of Langley staff, personnel from the Wildlife Watch Program of B.C. Environment, teachers from Blacklock Elementary School, and members of the Langley Field Naturalists.”

It all sounded wonderful, and we were led to believe that what we would receive in exchange would far outweigh what we had lost.

I have yet to see a viewing platform or interpretive sign or, for that matter, wildlife in the area, except a few hopeful ducks.

Gone are the long list of fish, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles and birds mentioned in Envirowest’s report, although there is the occasional sighting of a red wing, blue heron, or garter snake.

In 2006, the area had become so overgrown that one of the ponds had completely disappeared (it briefly reappears during winter months), and the second pond was rapidly filling up with cattails.

City staff agreed, and said they would have to apply to the Department of Fisheries and Ministry of Environment, and if the work was approved, it would be in August (2007).

I have mentioned this again and received the same polite response: they are looking into it, it will be considered at budget time – and on it goes.

I did also mention it to a couple of the councillors who knocked on my door during the 2011 election campaign – Rosemary Wallace and former Mayor Peter Fassbender. Both agreed they would, indeed, look into it.

I guess they are still looking.

There is an election coming and much attention will be paid to Brydon Lagoon – a committee will be struck, possibly a report – but following the election, the issue could die a slow death.

It is interesting to note that, of the current council, Councillor Ted Schaffer (now acting mayor), Gayle Martin, and Jack Arnold were also serving in 1992 when the 51B causeway was considered.

It is becoming too late for the ponds around 51B, but perhaps not for Brydon Lagoon.

Kory Swaele, City of Langley

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