Roundtable-South Fraser Valley-Feb 2006
Roundtable Lower Fraser River South Side
1) Environmental All Candidates meeting before the Langley election. Lots of information about this on the website WWW.salmonriver.org. Well attended (130 vs usual 80). Good attendance by candidates although most of them don’t seem to know much about environmental issues including the incumbents several of whom didn’t spend much time preparing. The candidates were given written questions to answer before meeting an extensive amount of background material to read (again see website). They seemed to find this overwhelming and the answers were often rudimentary. We may need to simplify the questions again in the future as we have tended to do in the past. 2) Successfully putting together a field trip curriculum for the Langley schools working with Trinity Western. The first module is geared to the classes that take the fish in the classroom curriculum and we anticipate many of these classes participating this spring. We have had good support and help from Bev Bowler. We are also developing a new unit that requires less background knowledge and addresses the problems that can occur (mostly through human impacts) to habitat and how habitat issues affect the fish population especially as the Salmon is a coho stream. 3) Continuing to lobby the Township to preserve the Fort Langley floodplain as there is a lot of pressure from farmers to drain the floodplain and it is clear that the Township wants to do something to appease the farmers. The latest study shows that a number of measures (drawing the water level down in the river, constructing a bypass drainage channel etc. etc.) would be needed at a cost of almost $10 million or likely more. This would only dry out (to ARDSA standards) 144 hectares so the land is likely not worth anywhere near the $10 million that they would have to spend. In Surrey, however, over $20 million was spent and the provincial agriculture people seem to think that this is what Langley should do as well. Unfortunately although we all know that coho populations plummeted due to agriculture issues around the Serpentine in Surrey there doesn’t seem to be any data to prove this was related to agriculture so the provincial agriculture people are quite obnoxious in their insistence that what was done in Surrey was a good thing for everyone including the fish (they created a nice wide “highway” for the fish to go down which according to them has to be good).
4) Groundwater issues are still not being addressed with no Ground water Act yet that does anything effective and with manure issues everywhere around the valley. See the page sent out via the list serve about loosening of the manure guidelines this winter. 5) Good feedback from the schools on the environmental library (books given out to the schools last spring).
And now for the main issue which will come as no surprise.
Lack of enforcement and protection
This is still my priority item and will continue to be until is it addressed effectively.
Although SEHAB has sent letters about this some time ago I don’t think we have addressed it as consistently as it needs to be addressed for DFO to understand how upset the volunteers continue to be about this. For them to still be talking about the community changing the ethic and somehow reducing violations indicates that they just don’t have any understanding of how the volunteer community feels and how badly DFo is failing.
The example for this meeting is Stokes Pit where a tremendous amount of habitat has been lost in the Surrey Campbell Heights industrial park development (yes they named it after the river while they destroy the habitat and drop the water table drastically). It appears that Surrey and Envirowest mislead DFO, that DFO did not realize how much habitat was at risk
(this was an abandoned gravel pit and was advertised as not being much use for anything) etc. etc. WCEL is involved in trying to see if a case can be made against the city, the consultant or even possibly DFO.
The common denominator in the protection problem is that DFO is going in the opposite direction from what has been shown to work across North America in law enforcement. Books such as “The Tipping Point” graphically describe how the crime rate in New York City declined as a result of hiring more officers, making their job easier (simplifying the paperwork so they could get on with the job and having a fine system that didn’t require court time), and dealing with all the little things (the broken window theory). This is how to change the community ethic. This is what DFO says that they want to do but they are going in the wrong direction with their present changes.
I also presented articles from the Vancouver sun (3 over the last 2 months) documenting that this need to increase enforcement personnel is a key to reducing crime as opposed to what DFO is doing reducing enforcement and reducing the field presence. .
I also presented a few pages from another book “The Wisdom of Crowds” describing games theory research showing that a game set up so there is an opportunity to cheat will tend to have a certain percentage of cheaters (15 to 25%) but that percentage increases if there is a lack of enforcement of the rules and decreases if the rules are enforced. This is more evidence that DFO needs to enforce even the smaller things to prevent the bigger things from happening.
check out our website WWW.salmonriver.org