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Less than perfect CERP better save salmon

Squamish Council was asked to communicate that it supports the Central Estuary Restoration Project. On Tuesday, Nov. 9 council voted to do just that. In the process a number of concerns were voiced.

To help Council make its decision a staff report was written with relevant information. It is found here.

The report to Council includes a draft Central Estuary Restoration Project (CERP) report created by the proponents of the project. I asked District of Squamish (DoS) staff, “Has that draft report in the days since the agenda was released moved from a draft report to a final report?”

Chris Wyckham, DoS Director of Engineering, indicated the draft version of the report is the only version the DoS has.

During the Council discussion I shared these thoughts:

From the CERP draft report dated September 2021 I note that the dates referenced start at October 15th. Here we are today November 9th with a report still in draft form outlining work that is supposed to be underway despite the fact that the report guiding the project seems to me to be incomplete.

The draft report has some glaring omissions. On page 12 we see that the roles and responsibilities of DFO is yet to be determined. On page 13 there’s a table with a text placeholder that reads, “Get something in writing from DFO.”

The Marine Works section on page 20 needs to be edited, there’s information missing in the Archaeological Resources section and drawings or diagrams of the lay down and staging areas haven’t been inserted in section 11.1 on page 15.

One sentence in the report jumps out at me.

“The project team (Squamish River Watershed Society, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Squamish Nation) have met regularly with provincial staff from the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development and District of Squamish staff and council to ensure their input in included.”

It looks like there’s a typo. That is probably supposed to read, “ ensure their input IS included.”

I don’t agree with this sentence. This council has only had one meeting with the project team. Dating back to October of 2019 this group of council members met with the project team on October 12th, about a month ago. This, in my mind, hardly qualifies as meeting regularly.

There’s a lack of integrity that concerns me. The planning work is incomplete. It has me wondering what other corners are going to be cut.

I support salmon habitat restoration so I broadly support this project and this motion.

Councillor Chris Pettingill noted that Council relies on DoS staff to meet with groups like the Squamish River Watershed Society (SRWS) on behalf of Council. I fully agree with him and acknowledge that DoS staff members have been keeping Council updated on all aspects of this project. It isn’t unusual for groups like the SRWS to meet infrequently with Council. It's important to note that many people impacted by this project feel they've been deceived by those pushing the project forward and they further feel their interests aren't valued.

It’s my hope that this project increases the chinook salmon stocks in the Squamish River watershed and Howe Sound. I also value the community contribution made by wind sports. The DoS is working with the Squamish Nation to find a solution or solutions for those who enjoy walking, running, cycling and sailing at the top of Howe Sound. The Squamish Community Vision Committee was created by the DoS and the Squamish Nation to bridge the gap created by this project between community groups.

Further reading: Realign not Remove

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