Howe Sound Gravel Mine an Environmental Catastrophe
There is a new axiom in BC, evidently, which says, ‘You can’t be against EVERYTHING."
Unhappily, this had led the NDP and Energy critic John Horgan to support Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plants in northwest BC for export. This is turning out to be an unmitigated disaster and my prediction is that there will be no LNG plants in BC thus no market.
But this new axiom, so critical to those who would take away our heritage, is also permitting a gravel pit to be developed in Howe Sound at McNab Creek. This is not for want of private opposition – it is alive and very well indeed. What it’s lacking is public awareness.
Howe Sound is a world-class area. It’s taken a hell of a beating since my Dad, Mom and I fished it back when if you didn’t get a fish you must have forgotten to put a hook on your line. Eagles have returned to how they were in the days when I was a boy and so have porpoises. Whales are being sighted again. Salmon runs, except the ones dependent on the Ashlu, which has been ruined by a private power company, are returning. Howe Sound is for boaters, canoeists, and a paradise for kayaks, as it may well become again for fishermen.
The El Nino, a fifty foot wood boat was found to be sinking slowly off of Anvil Island recently. It was located near the old decommissioned BC Ferry that was being scrapped in over 250 feet of water. The El Nino was abandoned, and has become a hazard to navigation and is leaking pollutants into Howe Sound. Despite contacting Coast Guard who visited the foundering vessel while it was still precariously tied to the shore on Anvil Island, it was left alone. DFO, Transport Canada and BC Ministry of Environment also declined from taking any action.
This vessel came loose and drifted over to Sunset Marina. The vessel came very close to drifting into the BC Ferry lanes and still poses a potential hazard for both navigation and the environment in Howe Sound. Local resident John Buchanan and his son took the time and effort to remove 800 pounds of material off of the hulk. It seems that derelict vessels seem to be falling through the cracks of all of the government departments.
Meanwhile Bowen Island residents seem to be suffering from the same problems with abandoned vessels coming loose and ending up on shore or sinking. This seems to be a Canada wide problem on both of our coasts. Proper registration regulations could work towards creating the accountability required for action to be taken.
The question remains whether any government department is willing to take on the responsibility of dealing with this important issue. Will it take a BC Ferry to have a collision with an abandoned vessel before something is done?
Former Howe Sound pulp mill site eyed by Singapore company for LNG plant
There is a new proposal by Pacific Energy Corp., a Singapore based company interested in liquefied natural gas (LNG) production for their own purposes. They propose an LNG plant based at the former Woodfibre site. They are looking for a continuous supply within their own organization.
Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals have put a significant emphasis on the potential of LNG as a key driver of the B.C. economy in the near future, believing it could generate a trillion dollars for the province by the middle of the century. They want three LNG facilities in operation by 2020.
The amount of tax revenue that will be generated if the project goes ahead is unknown. Tax revenue would depend on the value assessed to the land by the B.C. Assessment Authority.
The Marine Life Sanctuaries Society of BC has started the process to protect the delicate glass sponge reefs of BC. Currently MLSS has been studying the reefs close to the Vancouver area to determine their importance as nurseries for the rockfish. It is clear that the sponges play a critical role as safe habitat for juvenile rockfish. Many of these sponge reefs are composed of live sponges on top of old dead sponges, which constitute what is called a “bioherm”. Some of these bioherms have been determined to be 8,000-9,000 years old. The sponges themselves are quite unique biologically, as they are composed of silicate. This is why they are referred to as glass sponges.
Given their fragile nature, it doesn’t take much to destroy them. A dragger running over them would result in total devastation. Hook and line fishing can also do severe damage to these delicate reefs. Years ago many of the local commercial fishermen had a gentleman’s agreement to avoid these areas, as they understood their significance for creating future generations of rockfish.
I will mine thee to the 55-meter depth of an open-pit quarry.
I will mine thee as far as the 77-hectar breadth of my mine’s sight.
Let me mine thee, crush and process thee aggregate with delight.
Does thou protest too much in order to save Howe Sound?
I will mine thee within the farthest reaches that a permit will allow.
How can you threaten our air, health, eco-system and wildlife? Allow me to count the ways 650 endangered fish will be polluted, And the number of countless, rare, and endangered invertebrates.
Let’s count the ways that mining will affect us 24/7, 365 days a year. We need to take back our democracy now and demand an end to the government’s mines act, which is an outdated part of BC legislation.
How can you take away the dolphins and orcas that just returned after decades of cleaning up from Britannia Beach mine burn. Our eco-system is just recovering from that toxic harm and we must protest McNab Mining project with great alarm.
Let’s count the 20,000+ contaminated sites across Canada. All Government-approved mining companies digging for aggregate five million pounds of contamination into our precious water. slashing through the earth like meat brought to the slaughter.
Howe Sound deserves our protection and implemented rejection. Let us demonstrate how much we love Howe Sound and count the ways we will love thee purely, freely and with environmental passion.
And most importantly, love thee but more after our generation’s death, as the future of Howe Sound lives a long and healthy life future generations will be thankful for, forever more.
*Apologies and appreciation to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Please visit www.savehowesound.org and support this cause.
Situating Howe Sound in an Unsustainable World
How shall we understand the state of affairs in which we find ourselves at the beginning of the 21st century? Evidence is looming that the limits of the earth’s natural systems are on a collision course with the growth-minded economy of a globalizing world. Despite widespread signals that the health of the planet is in steep decline, there appears to be minimal effort toward preserving and protecting our sacred places of biodiversity. Howe Sound is no exception. On the contrary, the near 7-billion of us are hand-by-hand, mouth-by-mouth, and quarry by quarry, consuming the planet into environmental consequences that we may never fully understand. One might be perplexed to ask the question, “How did we arrive at such a state?”
One response, among others, is the Western (and increasingly global) notion that humans are somehow excused, even separate and apart, from the natural laws and limitations of the physical universe. Still, despite some common awareness of environmental instability, and the desire for a healthy environment, many of us feel powerless to change directions. According to some economists, we are living in a “perpetual state of forced dependency” on the global economy.
For five years, from 2007 until 2011, the herring eggs that spawned on the wrapped intertidal creosote pilings under the Squamish Terminals East dock hatched out contributing to the herring biomass of Howe Sound. In 2012 and 2013 these eggs died off from some unidentified toxin. Since dozens of new creosote pilings had just been put in the outer row of pilings after a ship had crashed into them, this is the likely culprit. Squamish Terminals had been told that if the pilings were sun dried for five months they wouldn’t leak creosote which doesn’t appear to be true.
Fortunately the Squamish Streamkeepers had anticipated this and dramatically increased their use of float lines this year as a way to increase spawning surface. The float lines have two advantages over wrapped pilings in that the herring can spawn on both sides of the material rather than one side, and the float line material goes up and down with the tide so the eggs aren’t exposed to surface contaminants such as floating creosote, sun, wind or frost. Hopefully the float lines will allow eggs spawned directly under the dock to develop normally.
On Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 a historic dive exploration was undertaken and completed. Two divers descended onto the top of the Lions Bay sea-mount in an endeavor to accomplish a dive never before known or attempted.
At 10:24am Saturday morning, trimix divers Hamish Tweed and Chris Straub touched the top of the seamount 218 feet down. Supported by a team of 22; including 4 safety divers, a medical doctor, two dive vessels, 5 HD video cameras above and below the surface along with the Vancouver Sun reporter Larry Pynn, observing on the glass sponge bioherms dive, successfully achieved in the Sound.
Do we want an open pit gravel mining and crushing operation in the Howe Sound? What’s the balance between industry, the environment, recreation use and tourism for our region, one of Canada's most majestic outdoor environments?
Save Howe Sound is a public awareness campaign to inform residents about these issues that are under discussion, now, with private industry, government officials, residents and concerned interest groups.
Inspired by the success of the 1970‘s Save Howe Sound spirited effort to campaign against both the Britannia Mine and the then, ongoing Howe Sound pulp mill expansion, Save Howe Sound (Again) has reformed as a group of concerned residents who feel we all need to be aware of, and participate in, what is happening in our region.
Smack in the middle of the panoramic nature view of Howe Sound, a giant gravel mine is in the planning stage for McNab Valley.
This is alarming on an immediate level—the impact the mine could have on the region is devastating. But that the proposal is even on the table highlights a gap in long-term planning about how the land and water is best used as a whole. If one part of the Sound is damaged, its damage ripples out and affects the entire body of water and surrounding communities. Without a common vision among local councils and decision-makers, we're leaving the Sound vulnerable to exploitation by industry, one mine or one pulp mill at a time.
We need to look at Howe Sound as one organism, stretching from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish, from the Sunshine Coast to the Sea-to-Sky Highway, including all the islands in between.
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Please mark Sunday May 26th on your calendars now. More updates can be obtained here or through the Art Council website: Link to Lions Bay Art Council website