In summarizing recent news about B.C.’s watersheds, a water molecule came to mind.
Science and Communications Manager, Meghan Rooney
Molecules of water are polar; slightly negative at one end and slightly positive at the other. As opposites attract, the polarity of water molecules allows them to form bonds with each other. This gives water cohesion, which makes it so vital to human life.
This brings me to our watersheds update. There’s polarity (or polarization) when it comes to recent watershed news in B.C., however, our bonds and cohesive action as citizens with a shared concern about the state of B.C.’s freshwater sources, are strong and are leaving a mark.
B.C. Invests in a Watershed Security Fund
The biggest news to share is that the provincial government has finally committed to investing in a $100 million dollar Watershed Security Fund. The fund’s creation was largely due to the efforts of CodeBlue BC, an online community of British Columbians we support, who are concerned about our freshwater sources — B.C.’s watersheds. The fund builds off two previous, one-time provincial government investments in watershed security in 2021 and 2022, the first of which, the Healthy Watersheds Initiative (HWI) supported an impressive 61 projects at over 200 sites across the province, creating over 1,200 jobs while improving wetland and salmon habitat, increasing drinking water source protection and more. While we are still waiting to learn more details about the Watershed Security Fund, the success of the HWI and the lessons learned leave us feeling optimistic about the effectiveness of this fund in supporting important projects that truly benefit B.C.’s watersheds and local communities.
While $100 million is a decent initial investment, B.C.’s watersheds have had decades of damage done, caused by big companies extracting trillions of dollars of wealth from our watersheds. So the price tag to properly clean up the messes will be much higher. We were hoping for a larger fund and will now advocate for additional investments by provincial and federal governments into the Watershed Security Fund.
CodeBlue BC supporters were persistent in their efforts to get this fund created, contacting the province over 6,000 times to demand investments in watershed security—a big thanks to all those who took action. YOU HELPED MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!!
Coastal GasLink botches river crossings in the Skeena’s salmon rivers
You might have seen our email last month about the mess that is the Coastal GasLink pipeline project. As costs for this mismanaged project balloon to 14.2 million, the company is jettisoning its already shaky commitment to environmental protection. Footage collected by our allies in the Skeena shows how extensive the problem is, and the three ministries responsible for oversight of the project, (Fisheries and Oceans Canada and B.C.’s Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship) are not monitoring the work, and are not in regular communication about the project. We asked British Columbians to reach out to Minister Josie Osborne to issue a Stop Work order on the pipeline and though we are still waiting for an official response, over 2,000 emails have been sent to date.
Through CodeBlue BC, we recently fundraised over $2,000 so Skeena residents can perform citizen monitoring of the project and hold CGL accountable for any additional damage done to fish habitat. We hope to have more updates to share in the coming weeks on this issue.
Burnaby’s proposed composting facility stinks of greenwashing
The City of Burnaby recently proposed a new composting facility – a great idea right? Except the proposed location would require the destruction of over 20 acres of parkland – and not just any parkland: The proposed location was Burnaby’s last remaining natural space along the Fraser River foreshore, and the city’s only wetland habitat still connected to the Fraser. If built, the facility would threaten important refuge for wildlife and fish, including migrating juvenile salmon. If the City of Burnaby could build a compost facility anywhere, why did they choose a beloved, existing park in the middle of their community?
Then we got wind of the consultation process. If a Burnaby resident opposed the project, they were required to jump through a series of unusual hoops to make their views known. If they don’t, their silence is taken as their support. If this seems like a bizarre way to run a democracy, you’re not alone.
The city says the project will “strengthen our commitment to climate action and resilience,” but in actuality, the facility will produce methane, which Burnaby plans to sell to Fortis BC, delaying the adoption of actual climate solutions like emissions-free heating and cooling solutions. As our allies at Raincoast say in this opinion piece, the “planned organic waste facility is a gas plant masquerading as climate progress”.
*Good news: Burnaby’s city council has since reversed course and the proposed project has been scrapped due to significant opposition from residents.
CodeBlueBC fights on!
Our scrappy little team will continue to push for positive change for B.C.’s watersheds, shine a light on bad actors, and rally British Columbians to work together to defend our watersheds. If you want to stay up to date on our watershed work, take action at CodeBluebc.ca or join the CodeBlue BC community on Facebook.