Evidence of meeting #36 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was conservation.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Pamela Zevit  Registered Professional Biologist, Past President, Chair, Practice Advisory and Professional Ethics, Association of Professional Biology
  • Chloe O'Loughlin  Director, Terrestrial Conservation, British Columbia Chapter, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
  • Brian Riddell  President and Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Salmon Foundation
  • Jeff Surtees  Chief Executive Officer, Trout Unlimited Canada
  • Alan Martin  Director, Strategic Initiatives, B.C. Wildlife Federation
  • Devon Page  Executive Director, Ecojustice Canada
  • Scott Ellis  Executive Director, Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia
  • Linda Nowlan  Director, Pacific Conservation, World Wildlife Fund (Canada)
  • Neil Fletcher  Education Coordinator, Wetlands, B.C. Wildlife Federation
  • David Bradbeer  Program Coordinator, Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust
  • Jessica Clogg  Executive Director and Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association
  • Damien Joly  Associate Director, Nanaimo, Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada

9:35 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Salmon Foundation

Dr. Brian Riddell

Well, I don't think there's too much that's really unique about Nile Creek. I think you're hearing it as a model in terms of the extent of community organization that has gotten behind them.

You heard them provide examples of huge leveraging. They were saying that for every dollar that could be provided by a foundation like ours, they could leverage twenty times that. I think the number is actually more like eight to ten times, to be honest, but the fact is that they are very well organized. They involve highly professional people. They really build strength by going out and finding people in their community with backgrounds who can contribute to how to operate their society.

They have been dedicated to this for probably twenty years. They have received national awards because of their success in bringing back pink salmon and coho salmon. As you heard, though, a lot of it depended on interacting with the appropriate people and with government departments, both provincial and mostly federal.

Basically, they've been extremely good at taking a professional approach to this. It's a local society, but they've gone out and gotten the appropriate support. They have wonderful community support. They are a model of what the community organization can do. I think the biological recovery is really a reflection of the commitment of the entire community to protect the downstream, to restore the estuary, to protect the flow of the water, and to continue to provide them with the money they need to work on an annual basis.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

I should acknowledge DFO habitat expert Mel Sheng, who's been involved in these projects for many years and is right on the ground, working with volunteers. He was able to accompany us yesterday.

I also want to draw attention to the fact that I believe they started with sowing the stream with pinks that were virtually extinct from the Nile when they started. The success of the pink returns actually helped to bring the coho, because I don't think they actually sowed coho. Some of the coho actually followed the pink and re-established themselves in these spawning channels. Is that correct?

9:35 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Salmon Foundation

Dr. Brian Riddell

Not quite. They did start with pinks, that's correct. They were very successful in restoring a good run of pink salmon. Pink salmon can become very abundant very quickly, because they have a fixed two-year life cycle.

Essentially what they did is restore the ecosystem first, so it's certainly a model in that sense. They protected the habitat, they provided the water, and they restored the ecosystem function by providing heavy nutrients to the river system. Some coho did come back naturally, and other coho—you saw the small hatchery—were supplemented. You made reference to the restoration biologist and the building of the kilometre-long side channel.

The productivity of coho in that river is abnormally high. The success is maintaining a habitat, restoring the ecosystem, providing the habitat expansion, protecting the water flow—all things that, if you think back on it, are kind of a natural progression. Their success was that they overcame the pressures around that stream. They protected the water, they worked with the community and the agricultural groups, and they put the whole picture together.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Thank you very much.

Mr. Chair, how much time do I have?

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

You have two minutes.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Great. Thank you.

I want to turn to Ms. O'Loughlin.

[Technical Difficulty—Editor]

Okay, thanks for that.

We're talking about parks and the parks system. We've done a lot of work in the last few years to expand parks territorially. Kluane Park was expanded, as were Great Bear Rainforest, the Gwaii Haanas of course, which you mentioned, East Arm of Great Slave Lake, and the Ramparts River.

We've expanded the footprint of our national parks considerably. About 10% of the second-largest country in the world is actually already preserved or conserved in one form or another.

You mentioned the Similkameen and the challenges when you're talking about establishing a new national park. You made some comments about the businesses and Osoyoos and the school and so on, but when I drove through there recently, I saw the signs that said, “No national park”.

Can you speak to the dynamic, since you've spent some time there, of helping people work through the process of understanding the benefits of a national park, and can you tell us where the resistance is coming from locally?

9:40 a.m.

Director, Terrestrial Conservation, British Columbia Chapter, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Chloe O'Loughlin

That's a good question.

I think people who are opposed to the park, who put those “no national park” signs up.... There's no indication whatsoever of public support. Those signs could have been put up by one person or 10 people or a thousand people. There have been three public opinion polls in the area that show significant support—more than two to one. The polls showed that between 63% and 80% of the population in that area wants the national park. The regional district made a formal request to see the results of the eight-year, multi-million dollar study that was funded through the federal government. The regional district, the chambers of commerce, the tourism associations, the big wineries, and the organic food organizations do want to see the results of this study so that they can make decisions on the park, and I understand that report has just been released today.

The area impacts on 11 ranchers, and three of them want to sell their ranch specifically to Parks Canada for a national park, and the other ranchers would be allowed to continue to own that land and their cattle tenures for as long as they want to, and Parks Canada would be helping them and working with them.

So the opposition, now that people are educated, comes from a very small group of people, but business, tourism, and local citizens are very interested in the national park.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

Time has expired.

Ms. Fry, you have seven minutes.

May 15th, 2012 / 9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Welcome, everyone.

I just wanted to ask a couple of questions.

Internationally Canada has signed on to an agreement stipulating that 17% of land and 10% of ocean be conserved. How far are we from that? How much have we done so far, and where do we need to go from there?

That's my first question.

We used to have an oceans strategy that sunsetted a while ago. Do you believe that the oceans strategy should be brought back? What are the elements of the oceans strategy that we should bring in to ensure we fulfill the 10% conservation requirement for our oceans?

James said that, as a British Columbian, he knows the salmon is iconic in this province. It's more than a fish. The salmon in fact is an indicator of how habitat is doing. So the big question I want Brian to answer is whether he believes that the ebb and flow of salmon is a natural thing or that it reflects the habitat. That's my second question.

My third question is what do you think would be the impact of the proposed Enbridge pipeline coming through British Columbia? How will it impact on our ecosystem, and in what ways will it actually be contradictory to a national conservation plan for British Columbia? What will the tanker traffic do to the fish and ocean habitat?

Ms. O'Loughlin, I think the first one is for you, regarding 17% of land and 10% of ocean.

9:40 a.m.

Director, Terrestrial Conservation, British Columbia Chapter, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Chloe O'Loughlin

Great. [Technical Difficulty—Editor]

We have a big opportunity to protect a lot of our country. Many countries around the world have no land left to protect—for example, the United States.

Canada has a big responsibility in the world to exceed those targets. I think in the marine environment it's less than one per cent that is protected, and terrestrially there's less than 10% protected. [Technical Difficulty—Editor]

So if we had marine planning, which brings together industry, local communities, and environmental groups to plan where the traffic should be, where the protection of the fish should be, where things should happen.... A marine-protected area is zoned. It's not entirely protected. We need a portion that's protected.

There are four areas on the coast that need marine protection, which means marine planning. The government could certainly provide the leadership to make that happen and to figure out where things can go and where things need to be protected, and it's a very collaborative partnership process.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

How much of the land is currently protected?

9:45 a.m.

Director, Terrestrial Conservation, British Columbia Chapter, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Chloe O'Loughlin

I believe it's less than 10%.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Okay.

And the oceans strategy?

9:45 a.m.

Director, Terrestrial Conservation, British Columbia Chapter, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Chloe O'Loughlin

The oceans strategy is really important on all three coasts—to have leadership that would say it is really important to our country, which has the biggest coastline in the world, to protect our ocean resources.

With climate change, our oceans are changing drastically. If we don't have healthy blue, we say, then there's no green. If our oceans are not healthy, it has major impacts on the land. Oceans produce half of the oxygen we breathe.

So an oceans strategy is just critical, and would be a major part of a national conservation plan.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Thank you.

And Brian, the salmon-habitat relationship?