MLA pushes to re-start talks on Salish Sea

Saanich North and the Islands MLA Gary Holman joined a discussion panel in Oak Bay last month during Orca Awareness Month events.

Organizers of June’s Orca Awareness Month showed what they collected from a Victoria-area beach.

Quietly, a B.C. and Ottawa agreement to look into creating a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) for the southern Strait of Georgia, has stalled — and now there’s a small push to have those talks resume.

Saanich North and the Islands MLA Gary Holman and his NDP counterpart from Port Alberni, Scott Fraser, co-signed a letter last month, urging both levels of government to meet with First Nations and get talking again — 13 years after both B.C. and Ottawa signed a memorandum of understanding on the matter.

“It has been a concept for around 20 years,” Holman said in an interview. “And it’s seen as a compliment to the (existing) Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.”

Holman joined a discussion panel in Oak Bay last month during Orca Awareness Month events. His presentation was on the NMCA   — and the idea of transferring Crown lands to Ottawa to form a national jurisdiction that would encompass the souther Gulf Islands to waters around Greater Victoria. The purpose, Holman said, is to better protect marine habitat both on the surface and under the water. While it would not immediately cut off access or vessel traffic, Holman said such a designation could do a better job of protecting species in that region of the Strait of Georgia — or Salish Sea.

Holman added the concept has the support in principle of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s on board,” he said. “It’s a positive change of attitude.”

Such a proposal would have to balance the needs of the environment, area First Nations and industry, such as shipping and commercial fishing, he continued. Key to its success — should governments resume their talks — is including around 19 First Nations whose traditional territories are affected or covered within the proposed NMCA. Holman pointed to the example of Gwaii Haanas marine area, which was made a NMCA in 2010 with the co-operation of the Council of the Haida Nation. Holman said it’s an example of co-operative resource and cultural management and only works with the involvement and consent of the First Nations in that region.

Holman said he hopes talking about the NMCA for the Salish Sea will help reboot the talks.

“I think we need to point the way. And in so doing, create economic activity at the same time. You cannot have fishing without fish and you can’t have whale watching and other tourism activity without a healthy ocean.”

Holman noted in his presentation that the federal Liberal government has committed to increase marine conservation areas to five per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020. He added Parks Canada has “recently hired staff to … revitalize the NMCA planning process.”

“It’s the right thing to do for this area.”

Just Posted

Confusing parking lot blamed for cars tipping into flowerbeds at Peninsula Canadian Tire

Tow and repairs cost thousands, engineer says drivers’ responsibility, Canadian Tire stay quiet

BC Ferries adds extra and late night summer sailings

Seasonal adjustments to sailing times also in effect on many routes

Province funds $88.6M for two new schools in Langford by 2022

Langford gets 500-seat elementary school and a 700-seat middle school

Derelict trimaran removed from Oak Bay waters

Boat has been aground near Oak Bay Marina for over five months

Saanich says it will take months to fix a sink hole that appeared during ‘Snowmaggedon’

Roads closed in the area after the sink hole first opened in early February

WATCH: Barbers battle it out in Victoria

‘Barber Battle’ saw stylists and barbers from across North America go head-to-head

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Update: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Most Read