Balancing water management

So, Joe Stanhope wants to go to Ottawa and push DFO around. He wants to do this while vilifying them in the media; not a good strategy.

So, Joe Stanhope wants to go to Ottawa and push DFO around. He wants to do this while vilifying them in the media; not a good cooperation strategy I’d say.

Stanhope, the chair of both the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Englishman River Water Service (ERWS) board, was quoted in a recent edition of The NEWS saying: “The obvious lack of knowledge of DFO staff is a serious concern.”

Well, it seems that the obvious lack of knowledge is with the ERWS and its understanding of the Fisheries Act, and the DFO responsibilities to administer it.

It seems apparent that the ERWS consultant’s excellent report, while detailing significant losses of habitat for salmonids, Chinook and steelhead in particular, doesn’t provide a convincing case that these losses can be fully mitigated. Without such court-worthy evidence, the Fisheries Act says the proponent must seek authorization to carry out the work. DFO has no choice under the law.

If Stanhope wants to go to Ottawa, his intended purpose should be to make the case that an authorization is required ASAP. There is no reason why this should take the two years the ERWS seem to think, unless of course you really confuse and annoy the minister.

The ERWS has for the past few years been behaving like the public utility that they are, while presenting an image that they have all the interests of the Englishman River watershed at heart. The process that has ensued, indicates to me that the broader interests in the Englishman River watershed would be better served by some type of roundtable or watershed board process comprised, at a minimum, of First Nations, other governments, industry, businesses, citizens and, most importantly, stewardship groups such at the Mid-Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society. One need only look south to the Cowichan River watershed to see how effective such a roundtable process can be.

ERWS, along with agencies, forest companies and NGOs, have all contributed to the restoration of the watershed’s health. There is plenty more to do, and having a “balanced” water management regime going into the future is critical.

Don LawsethNanoose Bay

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