Watershed Dialogue 2021

This graphic shows the many key stakeholders who operate within the Gibsons Aquifer watershed. Robust communication and collaboration between these groups (and others) is critical, if we are going to successfully protect our community’s drinking water in perpetuity.

On November 3, 2021, the Town of Gibsons hosted the Elphinstone-Gibsons Watershed Dialogue. The dialogue, which was conducted via Zoom, brought together a comprehensive group of stakeholders who gathered to discuss:

  1. The need to collaborate in order to protect the Gibsons Aquifer watershed; and
  2. Short-term and long-term strategies to achieve that goal.
View a video recording of the dialogue here. 

Presentations included:

Watershed Dialogue Opening Remarks by Mayor Beamish

Mayor Bill Beamish, Town of Gibsons, Protecting the Elphinstone-Gibsons Aquifer

Dave Newman, Director of Infrastructure Services, Town of Gibsons, How the Town is Working to Protect the Gibsons Aquifer

Michelle Lewis, Natural Asset Technician, Town of Gibsons, Source to Sea Project

Mia Edbrooke, Manager Strategic Initiatives, Sunshine Coast Regional District, Watershed Protection Business Case

Suzanne Senger, Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, West Howe Sound Watershed Protection

Hermann Ziltener, Elphinstone Community Association, Save the Reed Road Forest

Following the presentations, participants were broken into small groups to discuss possible strategies for promoting the protection of, and strong inter-group collaboration within, the Gibsons Aquifer watershed.

Mayor Beamish has invited participants to share their resulting ideas by email. We will add those responses to this webpage when they are available.

Attendees

Attendees included representatives from many local and provincial organizations, including the Squamish Nation, Province of BC (Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development; Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure), Sunshine Coast Regional District (Board members and representatives from the Water Advisory Supply Committee), Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, Sunshine Coast Streamkeepers Society, Sunshine Coast Bear Alliance, Watersheds BC, Water Sustainability BC, Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society (board members), Waterline Resources, Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education CentreEssa Technologies, Econics Services and Vancouver Coastal Health.

Next Steps

Following the dialogue, Mayor Beamish sent a note to all participants thanking them for their interest, and outlining potential Next Steps. Read the Mayors Note to Watershed Dialogue Participants

Future actions that were suggested during the dialogue discussion and subsequently, included:

  1. That the SCRD and Town of Gibsons investigate the costs to develop and install signage to inform the public of the watershed and aquifer areas and need to protect them. (Similar to Campbell River);
  2. That the Town of Gibsons staff compile information and presentations from the dialogue on a new webpage. (Completed);
  3. That legal research be conducted into options available under provincial Acts and Regulations to protect the watershed and aquifer area. (The SCCA has offered to coordinate this work.);
  4. That the Town and SCRD consider ways to harmonize bylaws that are intended to protect the watershed-aquifer areas from the impacts of development or other activities; and
  5. That the SCRD, Town of Gibsons and others form a committee to continue to work with the Squamish Nation and the provincial government to develop an overall strategy for the long-term protection of the watershed and aquifer areas.

The Mayor invites participants and the public to submit other ideas to mayorandcouncil@gibsons.ca, as we strive to protect the watershed area unencumbered by artificial boundaries or jurisdictions.

Subsequent Actions Taken

On November 16, 2021, Council resolved that a proposal be submitted to the AVICC Executive Committee, requesting a session on Watershed Governance during the 2022 Convention. Read related Staff Report here.

Also on November 16, 2021, Council directed that a letter to be sent to Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, requesting that DL 1313, known locally as the Reed Road forest, be removed from BC Timber Sales timber supply and not be logged. Read the related Coast Reporter story here.

On November 20, 2021, Michael Maser (an attendee of the Watershed Dialogue) wrote to Mayor Beamish to let him know that he appreciated the Dialogue, and that as a result of the discussion, would be following up with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) in order to challenge their report of August 11, 2021, which asserts that “asphalt was not being disposed at the [Gilmour Road] site and was being temporarily stored for re-use”. Mr. Maser does not believe this is true. Mr. Maser has now written to MOTI asking for the Ministry to either 1. revise the report in order to correct what he believes to be omissions/distortions in the report, or 2. explain how/why the distortions occurred. Mr. Maser will report back to the Mayor when he receives a response from MOTI.

On November 23, 2021, Mayor Beamish met with Town staff and SCRD Director Donna McMahon to discuss actions to reduce flooding in Area E. As part of this work, costs for an engineering study to assess the stormwater issues that impact Area E are being investigated. It is envisioned that the study would be conducted by Urban Systems and jointly funded by the SCRD, ToG and MOTI.

On December 2, 2021, the Mayor is scheduled to meet with Nicholas Simons, MLA, to discuss the Watershed Dialogue and solicit his support in approaching his colleagues on this matter.

Additional Resources

Nov 30-2021: Provincial Government Announces $27 million Investment in Watershed Security

Water has a crucial role in modernized land use planning

https://poliswaterproject.org/2020/07/22/water-in-modernized-land-use-planning/

Our Water, Our Future

https://healthywatersheds.ca/

Water Sustainability Plans: Potential, Options, and Essential Content

https://poliswaterproject.org/polis-research-publication/water-sustainability-plans/

A Watershed Security Fund for British Columbia

https://poliswaterproject.org/files/2019/11/Watershed-Security-Fund-Position-Paper-1.pdf

Gibsons Water Testing and Monitoring

https://gibsons.ca/services/water-testing-and-monitoring/

Case Studies: Examining Local Government Sustainable Funding Mechanisms In B.C.

https://watershedsbc.ca/resource/local-government-funding-mechanisms/

SCRD Watershed Assessments Report, February 2009

2009-02 Delcan – Integrated Stormwater Management Planning, Phase 2 Watershed Assessments