2022 Civic Election Environmental Forums
On October 15th, voters across BC will elect new Local Government Councils and Boards to govern for the next four years. Crucial, time-sensitive decisions about how our communities will face the biodiversity and climate crises will be made by this 2022-2026 local government cohort.
Since 2011, the SCCA has provided all candidates engagement opportunities for Sunshine Coast Voters to hear from candidates on environmental issues. This year, we are partnering with Alliance 4 Democracy and the Sunshine Coast Climate Action Network to engage the candidates with written Q&A and virtual all candidates meetings (by Zoom).
We strongly encourage all citizens to engage in the electoral process, to learn where your candidates stand on the critical issues facing our community, future generations and all life on earth.
On Septmber 17th, we sent all candidates five written questions and asked them to submit written responses to us by no later that October 1st. The questions and their answers were posted on this page by October 3rd.
All Candidates Meetings
The SCCA hosted three virtual All Candidates meetings by Zoom. Recordings are now available for viewing on YouTube using the buttons below.
Background to Questions
As we are now acutely aware, global climate change is the greatest environmental challenge ever to confront human societies. We know the list: drought, fire, severe storms, record high temperatures, famine, warming oceans, sea level rise. These are increasingly impacting communities around the world.
BC has recently been devastated by several extreme climate events: heat, fires and floods, which caused hundreds of deaths and damaged billions of dollars of natural and built infrastructure.
Simultaneously, the entire planet is undergoing a silent biodiversity crisis called the 6th Mass Extinction. Species extinction rates are estimated at 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural rate.
Unlike previous extinction events caused by natural phenomena, the sixth extinction is driven by human activities such as unsustainable use of land, water and energy, and by human-caused climate change, which decreases biodiversity and makes ecosystems ever more vulnerable to disturbance and less able to provide the invaluable ecosystem services humans need to survive (clean air, water, fertile soil, etc.).
There are many actions local governments in BC can take to both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. In a very real sense, it falls to elected officials to lead the way to protect natural systems and the benefits they provide – to our communities and to global health as a whole.
All of the questions we are posing to candidates are within the jurisdiction of the local government they hope to represent.
Nature-based Solutions - IUCN
The 3rd Edition of the Green Bylaws Toolkit for Protecting and Enhancing the Natural Environment and Green Infrastructure - UVIC Environmental Law Centre
Climate Solutions - David Suzuki Foundation
Climate Change - Georgia Strait Alliance
Submission on the BC Government’s Watershed Security Strategy and Fund Discussion Paper - BC Watershed Security Coalition
Questions for Candidates
Question 1: Watershed Protection and Sustainable Drinking Water Supply
The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) and Town of Gibsons supply drinking water to over 30,000 residents on the Sunshine Coast. The primary water sources for most residents are the Chapman and Gray Creek Watersheds. Secondary water sources include the groundwater sources, Elphinstone-Gibsons-Soames and Hopkins-Langdale Aquifers (a.k.a. West Howe Sound Watershed).
Like most rural areas in BC, the Sunshine Coast faces ongoing and increasing resource extraction pressures in our drinking watersheds, mainly from logging. Local and First Nations governments have little to no control over industrial activities and their impacts on source area ecosystems. For example, BC Timber Sales is proposing large clear cuts in the West Howe Sound Watershed and the Sunshine Coast Community Forest still has logging tenure in the Chapman and Grey Creek Watersheds.
The BC government has a suite of legislative and policy tools to protect drinking water, and provincial government ministries have overlapping watershed protection, stewardship and reconciliation mandates. And, the new BC Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship (LWRS) is tasked with developing new strategies - in partnership with First Nations and federal and local governments – to better protect watersheds, wildlife, wild salmon, species at risk, and biodiversity.
Each local government on the Coast has different and overlapping opportunities to advance water supply and source area conservation.
Question for SCRD Candidates
If elected, how will you support the SCRD to achieve the following goals?
- assess and develop new options to expand and diversify water supply sources;
- reduce water use through regulations and policies, technologies, incentives and subsidies, community outreach and education;
- maintain and update water infrastructure; and
- protect water quality and quantity in source areas (lakes, streams, aquifers) from impacts of upstream development and industrial activity.
Question for District of Sechelt Candidates
As the sole shareholder of the Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF), what will you do to ensure the SCCF transitions to a sustainable forest management model, stewards ecological values and protects the Chapman and Grey Creek Watersheds?
Question for Town of Gibsons Candidates
If elected, how will you support the Town to diligently protect Gibsons Aquifer and the West Howe Sound Watershed Aquifer Recharge Areas from risks?
Our watershed has to be strengthened and expanded in collaboration with both our high government level , the Crown Land and the Indigenous peoples. This is very important for all.
As far as Aquifer 560 goes from Mount Elphinstone, the Town has been the long-time steward and manager of this aquifer as a water source, and I feel that the SCRD and Town should be working much more collaboratively on any efforts to consider drawing more water from the Mahan/Chaster areas. The Town called for formal arrangement to work together 5 years ago and it still hasn’t happened. I will renew this call, as the prospect of two different governments drawing water from the same source, without cooperation, is irresponsible and will not be supported by the provincial government.
The lack of cooperation on this item in particular (I applaud their cooperation in other areas, which I will mention later), also puts us in a rather shameful position to try to work with the Squamish Nation and their growing rights and title being recognized through the Province’s new approach to UNDRIP and other measures. There is so much more we can do for what should be a shared interest of Aquifer Protection, by sharing information and working together. I think we have a unique opportunity to make some great progress here with the help of my experiences both serving at and working for the SCRD, successfully advocating to and collaborating with the provincial government, and working with First Nations.
Further, I support the work the Town has started, and recently accelerated, to collaborate with the SCRD to protect water quality and quantity in source areas: the aquifer’s recharge area coming down from Mt. Elphinstone. We will step it up when I am in office, again due to my focus on advocacy and my experience in working with the provincial government. I see this as a way of bringing the Town’s “Natural Assets Strategy” home: it has been praised all over the world and has inspired many other communities to follow suit, but this work can be better shared with other members of the community through citizens’ science, nonprofit engagement, and just a better integration of many different things that are already going on, such as the long-time Area E quest to protect DL 1313, which very much aligns with Natural Assets (leading to Area E and the Town finally working together on these efforts in recent months).
The water governance structure I support would also integrate Aquifer 553 in West Howe Sound as well as our integrated watershed and other ecological connectivity all up and down the Coast.
I also want to address the question that was posed for SCRD directors. (Read no further if you aren’t interested!) As for exploring new water options, the SCRD has been doing this and has a promising new source identified further into Langdale. I have built strong relationships with provincial agencies and personnel over my years in government, and also have the training in Public Administration (aka “bureaucracy”) to help the SCRD get approvals much faster than they did for the Church Road project, which should’ve been in place by now and would’ve made a considerable difference this summer! (It’s true the most recent delay is due to “supply chain” issues, but there have been numerous other bureaucratic delays over the last few years.)
When elected, I will first urge the SCRD to expedite the metering program, including getting onto variable water utility rates according to usage in the next budget cycle. If some areas are not ready due to meters still being installed (Sechelt), no matter: some in the SCRD can be variable and some can be fixed until all areas are ready to be variable. Water usage in Gibsons has gone down by more that 50% per person since metering was introduced here. Technologies, policies, incentives, subsidies, community outreach and education all come part and parcel with a metering program.
Moreover, I support a true water governance body that will engage the shishalh and Squamish Nations on a government-to-government level. The SCRD system where the shishalh get water, but don’t get a vote at the table, is highly problematic and limited due to the RD structure—which is why we need to get outside of it. The same goes for how the SCRD has struggled for many years to address watershed protection from within their “function-by-function” system (except when they imaginatively took it on as a Health Board, an opportunity the BC Liberal government swiftly caught on to and cancelled).
Engaging First Nations in this way will also help to improve local stewardship and the need for provincial approvals; it is frankly quite pathetic right now that we rely on the provincial government to engage the Squamish Nation especially in local water stewardship issues when we could and should be doing it ourselves. I am impressed with the Cowichan Valley model for water co-governance and feel we should strive for something similar on the Sunshine Coast.
In 2004 Gibsons voted in favor of water meters, something I seriously campaigned to support. And with their installation we have drastically reduced our water consumption. Not only do water meters make us aware of our consumption they also enable the detection of leaks.
I lobbied as alternate on the Regional District the benefits of water meters – something the RD and the District of Sechelt are finally installing, I also pointed out the actual dollar value of water, water rates in Gibsons are significantly higher per cubic metre than what the Regional District charges, people tend to waste what they don’t value.
In Gibsons we have embarked on several conservation initiatives, for example “The Cape Town Challenge” ---
The Regional District is seeking new sources of water to meet their need rather than being totally dependent on the Chapman system.
In the Town of Gibsons, I have supported the aquifer mapping, and the Source to Sea project and have lobbied provincial ministries with my fellow council to ensure that we can protect what is beyond our borders.
Climate change is happening exponentially and we need to proactively work together, something else we in Gibsons have been pushing for is a Regional Growth Strategy. We can’t have one area expanding and developing, and then have them rely on us to provide the water they don’t currently have.
I am fully committed to protecting Gibsons Aquifer and the West Howe Sound Watershed Aquifer Recharge Areas from risks. I have participated in meetings with the Province to ensure our concerns regarding development impacts on the aquifer’s recharge area are heard and addressed in a proactive way. I have also participated in regional meetings to discuss a Water Governance Model for the Coast.
Gibsons has been a leader in water management on the Sunshine Coast and has spearheaded the conversations on Water Governance and Water Security with neighbour governments.
Council has been very supportive and interested in working with the Province, SCRD, District of Sechelt, Squamish and Sechelt Nations, and local NGOs to ensure the long-term sustainability of the drinking water supply on the Coast and in particular, in Gibsons.
Last fall the Town hosted the Elphinstone -Gibsons Aquifer dialogue to bring together stakeholders and support coordinated action to advance this work.
In the last term Council oversaw an update of the 2013 Aquifer Mapping Study. Experts Waterline Resources recommended the Town continue to engage in discussions with the SCRD, Ministry of Forests and community stakeholders regarding aquifer monitoring and watershed management activities. Waterline also recommended that we complete further investigations in the upper reaches of the Chaster Creek and Gibsons Creek watersheds to assess the recharge characteristics of Aquifer 560 as a joint effort between the Town and SCRD.
On September 13, 2022, elected officials and staff from the Town of Gibsons and the SCRD met with the Minister of Forests, Katrine Conroy, to discuss protection measures and governance models for the West Coast Sound Watershed Aquifer Recharge Areas to prevent activities such as deforestation and development from impacting the integrity of Aquifers 560 and 552.
Protection of the Aquifer and Recharge Area is a priority for me and will continue to be if I am elected.
Moreover, I will not support excavations or dredging on the waterfront in the geotechnically hazardous areas unless the Town’s experts (Waterline ) signs off and says there is no risk.
We are out of water in the town of Gibsons.
Based on the average daily consumption per person and what we are licensed to withdraw provides water for 5400. There are currently around 4800 people in Gibsons and four years from now based on all current construction and Permit applications submitted to the Town being completed we will have a population of 5600 – This needs to be addressed urgently.
Honestly, the SCRD does not want me sitting in their hot air meetings about water. I will fight (and have - through initiating blocks to their wrongful water license applications with the province, ya this happened), to protect and secure our clean water supply. The RD has been screwing up their water and our landfill issues for years. Not on my watch.
I will express my expectation, in council chambers and elsewhere, that Town staff will diligently work to protect the Gibsons Aquifer, the recharge area, and, adjacent recharge area lobes from risks. I will cooperate with SCRD colleagues to prevent conflicting or competing interests from inhibiting regional cooperation on water.
The recent aquifer mapping study and groundwater update recommends ongoing discussions with the SCRD, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and community stakeholders “regarding aquifer monitoring and watershed management activities”.
This should “include the installation of shallow and deep monitoring wells, a climate station and infiltration studies”.
I fully support these recommendations as well as ongoing discussions with all stakeholders. I also recognize that the changing climate will have a significant impact on future decisions.
I’m somewhat confused about the current situation, however. Some are saying our current water system can support a population of up to 10,000 others seem to believe that given current and proposed development we are virtually out of water now. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
Seems we should find out as closely and reliably as possible what population our current water infrastructure can actually support.
I believe we vitally need access to quality data. We must do everything we can to get ongoing, current reliable data and should go slow on any and all development projects before we have designed methodology to produce and access accurate information which we can use to make truly informed decisions.
Ongoing and diligent protection of our water supply specifically as it relates to development, forestry and mining around the Aquifer and the Recharge Area must be a top priority. Planning that allows us to be ahead of the risks in the Aquifier and Recharge areas as it relates to climate adaptation. The risks are too high for ‘reaction’ planning. A focus on ‘protection, safeguarding and mitigating’ the risk opportunities is vital.
The SCCF already utilizes Ecosystem-based Management on its Area Based Tenure, therefore they have a vested interest in preserving ecosystem integrity. As we've learned more and more about forestry, it has become clear we can't just plant more trees, we need to value ecosystem integrity for health and productivity. If I am Mayor, I will encourage our Council to will work alongside the Community Forest to continue to improve methods to protect our shared environments and interests.
The District of Sechelt is the sole shareholder of the Sunshine Coast Community Forest. My first step will be to review all documentation to ensure I am current, and to engage in discussions, and action to protect our watershed assets.
The SCRD has made great strides this term to diversify water supply sources and reduce water use. Given the change in the climate – longer drought periods and less rainfall in the summer, I think there is much we need to do around encouraging water conservation on the Sunshine Coast. We can no longer say we live in a rainforest.
The District of Sechelt is working with the province to potentially be the first community in BC that allows for the plumbing of and reuse of grey water in new homes. The District of Sechelt is also the final community on the Sunshine Coast that will be implementing water metering.
The Great Bear Rainforest is using a model called Ecosystem Based Management. It incorporates and integrates biological, social and economic factors into planning. The District of Sechelt council has supported the Sunshine Coast Community Forest to implement the same model. That work is moving forward.
The Community Forest has a relatively small tenure. On the Sunshine Coast, they account for only 1.2% of the logging that takes place here. They put a moratorium on logging in the Chapman watershed for 25 years. The current board and DoS Council are in support of continuing that moratorium.
Currently, already 40% of the Community Forest tenure is reserved by legal or voluntary measures to minimize the ecological footprint of operations.
As I was on Sechelt Council when we were offered an opportunity to create the Sunshine Coast Community Forest and manage it for our community, we made a decision to establish a community forest that would be managed locally for the benefit of residents on the Sunshine Coast. At the time, a provincial study indicated that the Chapman Creek watershed was “one of the most heavily impacted watersheds in the province” as a result of BC Timber Sales practices.
As a community forest, which is an Area Based Tenure, we are regulated by a Community Forest Agreement with the province to manage our forests in the watershed. Our current board of directors are in the process of incorporating EBM Ecosystem Based Managements practices which I support as it aligns with the goals of watershed protection and sustainable drinking water supply issues. I would be prepared to sit on the SCCF Board as a representative of Sechelt Council and report back to Council and the community on a regular basis.
First, there are a couple of points that signal to me that SCCF is serious about their commitment to transition to Ecosystem Based Management.
- They have set up an opportunity for people to join a Community Advisory Panel inviting people who want to make a difference and help with solutions. I will be asking to see the minutes of these meetings.
- They have openly stated that they will be setting up Metrics in their Business Plan to measure how they are doing and how far they have come with their mandate. This is something I will be asking to see.
- I will continue to support and understand what the incredible Streamkeepers do. Their work is integral and they are literally the "keepers" of our streams. Their ongoing reports of the state of our streams with respect to their ecosystem health can also alert us to changes in our watershed areas.
It will be important for Sechelt to work with the shíshàlh Nation in defining what sustainable means. Listening to Indigenous leaders and making decisions through the lens of how this will impact the next 7 generations are the approach that I believe will lead us to protecting the land, the water and ultimately how this community thrives in the coming years.
As I understand it, Sunshine Coast Community Forest is already moving toward sustainable forest management practices. Effective consultation with other forestry and environmental professionals will ensure the SCCF continues its move toward a sustainable forest management model to protect our invaluable watersheds.
Water is a key resource and as the RD is at the moment the sole provider of this key human resource, we need to work at that table to; protect our sources, preserve our supply, and to use eco sensitive technologies to monitor and equitably share this resource. Our diligence and perseverance in this area is my commitment to the electors.
The SCRD will be supported with the review of the acquisition of a new reservoir to catch the overflow from Chapman Lake in the rainy season. Hopefully one can be developed in conjunction with the Sechelt Nation as part of their gravel extraction/ remediation but it is acknowledged to be a difficult endeavour given the Lake is in Tetrahedron Provincial Park. However, the Province of BC has an Agreement to allow the Band to provide/have water so there may be opportunity/willingness there.
I don’t think wells in other parts of the region are a viable long term option to provide water for existing residents, much less the water needed for current committed projects and certainly not for the excessive development in Proposed Land Use Bylaw 580 if it goes through. We will find that no developments or auxiliary dwelling units will be able to have water hook up.
For instance, Saltspring Island has not allowed any new developments for any water hook ups for years given the water shortages, etc. This means that limits to population will need to be put in place along with severe water restrictions year round. Use of grey water, water off roofs and reserving purified water for drinking, cooking and bathing only will be required. Commercial water use will be curtailed. The price for water beyond the small limit with be very costly. There will need to be a modest upper limit for water use too so people can’t just buy their way out of this problem.
The Band will be more and more responsible for logging and management of the watershed so working with them for more sustainable logging practices will be key.
The SCCF has recently made a change in the way they operate, moving towards an Ecosystem Based Management model. They are working with experts in that field to this shift. This council has been very supportive of them do so. As the SCCF is nearing the half way point of their 25 year agreement, which includes protecting the watershed, it will be important to keep that protection front and centre in future commitments.
My view is that the District, working with the SCCF’s Community Advisory Panel and local environmental groups, should continue to broaden sustainability efforts in the activities of the SCCF. For example, the SCCF has an existing restriction of not harvesting “old growth” (e.g 250 years +). I favour a broader restriction of preserving “high quality” timber and reducing the age range to 150 years. In a similar vein, I would endorse broader protection measures around wetlands and water courses. I think the SCCF has already taken positive action by adopting Eco Based Management principles in evaluating how to manage the community owned forests including the hiring of habitat ecologist Laurie Kremsater to further develop sustainability principles .
The SCCF is already undertaking a shift in the way that it operates towards eco-system based management, where they look at the area around a cutblock as well as within it, to ensure they leave wildlife trees and corridors, and generally go a better job of forestry than the private sector ever will. It was the current Council, and a few forward thinking members of the SCCF, that decided to make this transition a priority. Additionally, the SCCF has committed to no logging in the Chapman Creek watershed. That’s something that a community operated forestry operation can do. Have you heard the same from BCTS or the private companies?
Sunshine Coast Regional District
In 2018 BC Parks and the Ministry of Environment rejected the SCRD application to expand the Chapman system. Through the Minister, the SCRD was directed to find alternate sources that would build redundancy into the Chapman system, to update infrastructure and work on conservation measures.
The alternate sources of water are; the Church Road well, online this fall and the Langdale well field, projected to be online in 2024.
Conservation methods are ongoing and include completing water meter hookups, projected for 2023-24 completion.
Upgrades are taking places on the Grey Creek water treatment plant project, completion 2027.
The future water sources that the SCRD are looking into are;
- A raw water reservoir above the airport projected at a cost of 50 million dollars.
- Accessing water from Sakinaw lake, Clowhom lake and Rainy river.
I will continue to support adding more sources of water to ensure we have water security into the future.
As of writing, most of the Sunshine Coast is beginning its second month of Stage 4 water conservation regulations. The current board has been working tirelessly to find solutions to our water supply issues, and we are all looking forward to the Church Rd Well to come online. But so much more work needs to be done.
There is too little leeway between our demand and supply, and we must endeavour to create a more comfortable buffer zone so that we can avoid the stress and frustration of another stage 4 in the future. In short--we need to increase supply while reducing demand.
If elected, I would work collaboratively with other board members and SCRD staff to diversify our water supply. We must look at all options: more aquifers? Building a new reservoir? Tapping into lakes? I will study all options, but I will make sure that whichever solution we choose is environmentally and financially sound, and does not compromise the watersheds for future generations.
Maintaining our current infrastructure and decreasing demand are the most environmentally and financially sound ways to address this issue.
I will work diligently with the board to identify leaks and get them fixed, and apply for grants so that all households can afford leak repairs.
I will explore bylaws that would require a rain catchment system be installed on every new development, so that new builds are part of the solution.
I will look for ways to increase residential rain water catchment through flexible rebates that can be applied to smaller totes and cisterns.
I will also be open to re-visiting the idea of a moratorium on all new developments until the water crisis is fixed.
I have commented below on individual parts of this question.
assess and develop new options to expand and diversify water supply sources;
There are several projects at various stages and it is too early to talk about most of them. After a few months as director there will be more answers.
reduce water use through regulations and policies, technologies, incentives and subsidies, community outreach and education;
The meters are in (Soon in Sechelt) and pricing is coming. A tiered system of pricing based on quantity is logical. I would like it if moderate users see a drop in their bill. I would hope there a way to separate water use between food security and ornamental/industrial/recreational use, and in times of need, knowing where to prioritize/price breaks. In times of water crisis, we need to curb unnecessary usage through price increase without penalizing the gardener growing their own food. We need to look at other places for answers on this and may other issues we face; we are not the first people to deal with this.
maintain and update water infrastructure;
Earmark excess funds raised by billing those who insist on filling pools and watering massive lawns for the infrastructure budget. Some jurisdictions have a special tax on pools and water features...do we?
protect water quality and quantity in source areas (lakes, streams, aquifers) from impacts of upstream development and industrial activity.
Upstream work within our drinking watershed that affects the safety of our supply should cease immediately , regardless of who has final say, be it the Provence, SIG, or the SCRD. If we are allowing this, we are killing ourselves.
Answer not yet received.
Drinking water is the most serious and immediate challenge facing the Sunshine Coast, especially for residents on the Chapman Water system. Team Sunshine Coast (representatives from the Town of Gibsons, SCRD and District of Sechelt) met with Minister Donaldson of FLNRORD at the Union of BC Municipalities conference in September, and made it clear that a sustainable drinking water supply is our top priority, and that ALL the local governments (including the First Nations) are working together on this. (We also met with Minister Osborne of LWRS regarding aquifer protection.)
The SCRD has four water projects under way right now: Church Road (Granthams) wellfield, which will come online in 2023, Langdale wells (2025), Marianne West well (Elphinstone), and water collection from Gray Creek. Those projects will not only add volume, but diversify our water sources, which is essential to water security. That said, all this is taking a whole lot longer than anyone foresaw, in part because of a very slow provincial process for issuing water licenses.
So we face the probability of several more tough years for water supply. The weather has changed and so has the hydrology of our watersheds. It will probably take a year to finish installing water meters in Sechelt (which should locate leaks and reduce usage); in the interim we need to look at ways to change the behaviour of the 8% of residential properties that are using 40% of our water. And we need a strategy for food growers who are not registered farms. This is a top priority for me for November.
Looking forward, we just appointed a new Water Supply Advisory Committee to advise the board on long term strategies for drinking water. They will start meeting after the election. The applicants for this committee were absolutely outstanding; I was blown away.
Finally, the SCRD should look at creating a Water Supply and Watershed Protection function, similar to what the Regional District of Nanaimo has. Right now we are only authorized to spend money on providing clean drinking water, not on protecting our watersheds. But without watershed protection, we won't have drinking water.
Yes I will continue to support ongoing modernization and resourcing of a variety of potable water sources. There is no end point to this situation increasing drying so we have to keep the process going.
Without adequate water, our goal of better local food security is not possible. We should focus on continued education and awareness campaigns, consider emerging Technologies.
We must continue to work with the province to pull back forestry activity from stream sources vulnerable to erosion and watersheds that replenish the reservoirs and aquifers.
Advocate for watershed cumulative effect data to better assess vulnerable areas.
Question 2: Engage with the “Climate Caucus”
Elected officials need support to lead well on climate change issues. 'Climate Caucus' is a nonpartisan network of local elected officials and 1000+ allies across Canada. Its mission is to “create and implement socially-just policies which align with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”
If elected, will you commit to engaging with the Climate Caucus and ensuring that all Council and/or Board decisions are considered through the lens of mitigating climate change, protecting biodiversity and sustainably managing ‘natural assets’?
Yes Definitely, It's in my interest and the interest of the Community to follow the foot steps of our scientists . It's important to have a public engagement in order to have a shared communication with not only our council but also the different levels of Government and our indigenous Native brothers and sisters and community at large to come to agree to a common ground where we all will benefit from the results.Protecting our assets is of utmost importance, and will be maintained.
Yes. First, all decisions need to be made through the lens of mitigating climate change, protecting biodiversity and sustainably managing natural assets. Regarding building, I am interested in recognizing higher-density development that may be rentals and more affordable for the environmental benefit of having a much smaller footprint… whereas at the same time I’d like to see more sustainable building and energy practices required of all new single-family homes (especially when they’re large, as so many are now) and higher-end condominium developments like some of those currently proposed in Lower Gibsons. This is a way to move forward on both the housing we need, and more energy-efficient housing, at the same time.
Regarding protecting biodiversity, I strongly support the great work the Town has been doing at White Tower Park, continuing to ensure the protection of the protected areas of Gospel Rock (and learning from the mistakes that occurred there), and enhancing Charman and Gibsons Creeks, the latter in partnership with the Squamish Nation.
And regarding sustainably managing natural assets, we have a world-renowned Natural Assets Plan, built on the foundation of earlier international recognition for our drinking water and “livability.” My vision for this plan, especially to ensure that its ground-breaking working outlasts this Council and staff, is to “bring it back home” and more broadly engage the community in its work. It is a community achievement and vision, based on decades of groundwork, yet I don’t feel a strong sense of community ownership in it right now and want to change that. There are some long-standing divides in our community that I feel I am in a position to repair, and want to make full use of that opportunity.
Overall, it is important to acknowledge that the primary “lens” for planning in our community is the Official Community Plan. It already has some excellent material in it regarding climate change and biodiversity from the 2015 update, but it is time to update it again, particularly with the Natural Assets Strategy, new Aquifer Mapping work, and latest climate science. I plan to fully engage the community in this process and support an ongoing climate change dialogue session that will feature guest speakers and perhaps even a community-wide climate change book club. We need to explore more ways of engaging people in Gibsons “where they’re at” rather than expect people to keep up on all our endless meetings and sit through them to ask questions at the end, which very few people do. We are an extremely well-read community with numerous book clubs and I would love to “meet people where they’re at” in this sense to learn together and then use what we’ve learned to mobilize community action and inform policy change at the Town.
To end with the Climate Caucus, I will absolutely engage and will add that furthermore, I have closely engaged with strong environmental leaders both inside and outside of local government since I was first elected as a school trustee 17 years ago. Some of these leaders are even in the provincial cabinet now, so I have some excellent relationships to help Gibsons advance our environmental agenda, particularly on water governance and watershed/recharge area protection. I also have a track record of learning from these connections in other local governments, and their experiences, to enhance our own environmental innovation on the Sunshine Coast. Through a structure similar to the Climate Caucus, I learned about an outdoor-education kindergarten class in a Victoria-area school about a decade ago. We brought this idea to the Sunshine Coast and initiated nature/sustainability education for an entire elementary-school program at Davis Bay Elementary. It may still be the only one of its kind in the province. Similarly, when I became chair of the school board I made the environment a top priority in our strategic plan and launched a standing committee dedicated to environmental sustainability. One of the outcomes of this elected leadership, due to outstanding work by staff over the years, is that School District #46 is now a leader in solar power.
Conversely, we can also have an even greater environmental impact provincially and even worldwide through sharing our own work via opportunities such as the Climate Caucus and beyond. The Town’s natural assets work especially is inspiring and informing awesome new localized approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation as near as Nanaimo and West Vancouver, and as far as Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. This is something that excites me about our community’s leadership around natural assets, too; when it comes to climate change we cannot just look inward, as it is truly the greatest challenge our entire world has ever faced.
We reviewed our Strategic Plan to align with other communities on the Sunshine Coast and the Regional District; we decided to view all decisions through the “climate lens”. I am also a member of the Climate Leaders group.
Currently I’m the only council member who is part of the Climate Caucus. I have however encouraged others to join, and Michelle Lewis has been a participant in some of our meetings and is working with the Climate Caucus group. I am also encouraging engagement with youth in the Climate Caucus. And am promoting that climate groups come together to have a larger and louder voice.
I have a background in environmental conservation and sustainable community development. I have over 20 years working with government agencies developing collaborative partnerships and implementing management, stewardship and educational programs. I have a Bachelor Degree in Biological Sciences from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a Master Degree in Natural Resources Management from the University of British Columbia.
As Councillor one of my main focuses has been and will continue to be addressing climate resilience, protecting biodiversity and managing the Town’s natural assets sustainably. These all go hand to hand and need to be integrated through Town plans, bylaws and policies.
Over the last term, I have supported many great initiatives such as the Coastal Resilience project, Eelgrass Restoration, Healthy Harbour Project, Source to Sea project, Tree Preservation Bylaw, Gospel Rock Conservation Area, Cities Race to Zero, Urban Forest Plan, Charman Creek Assessment and Charman Creek Watershed Protected Area, and an update of the Town’s Geotechnical and Environmentally Sensitive Development Permit Areas, among others.
I have and will continue to actively support a Regional Watershed Model on the Coast to protect our Aquifer Recharge Area from deforestation and other development activities that could impact drinking water.
I am fully committed to continue this legacy and ensure projects currently in the planning stages are implemented in the next term. I will also commit to engage with the Climate Caucus to strength advocacy in climate resilience with all levels of government and First Nations.
If elected, I will commit to engaging with the Climate Caucus, to better ensure that Council and/or Board decisions are considered through the lens of climate change mitigation & biodiversity protection, and that the expanding scope of Gibsons' world class, sustainable 'natural assets' management programs & initiatives continue.
I will commit to engaging with the Climate Caucus. I’m not sure that ALL Council decisions can be seen through the lens of climate change, however I will promise to consider climate change, biodiversity and sustainability when considering relevant issues.
Healthy Eco Systems = Healthy People.
Mitigating climate change, protecting biodiversity, climate adaptation strategies should be updated within the OCP.
Sustainable natural asset management is a vital piece to planning and decision modeling for our town. Yes, I commit.
Yes, I commit to our Council engaging with the Climate Caucus. Also, I agree that mitigating climate change, protecting biodiversity and sustainably managing our assets (all of them) are key attributes that must be part of the process in reaching decisions that are for the best for our community.
The Climate Caucus is a source of information that that will educate, and benefit elected members of Council, and the District of Sechelt local government staff.
Climate change, and the resulting impacts are real.
I will ensure, as the Sechelt Mayor, that discussions include, and resulting decisions consider, and reflect the needs to protect and manage our natural assets.
Yes, while I have been on periphery of the climate change conversation, after attending the Liveable Cities Conference in Victoria just prior to the advent of the pandemic, I know I need to become more engaged with outside organizations. The impacts we are seeing are more often and of larger magnitude and we cannot solve our situation on our own.
The District of Sechelt is following Gibsons lead and implementing a ‘natural asset’ lens when designing and/or reviewing projects.
The short answer is yes. And, as there are a number of approvals usually required in decisions and applications that are presented to Council, it would best be implemented by requiring an additional review in the approval processes to identify any potential issues regarding mitigating climate change, protecting biodiversity and sustainably managing ‘natural assets’.
- Climate Change is extremely important to me as a member of this community.
- The Climate Caucus is an incredible coalition of individuals from coast to coast who recognize the crises we are facing.
- It appears to be an excellent source of resources and appears to have many other benefits for municipalities.
- At this point, I don't see any reason for not engaging, but I will know more about process if I am elected as a member of the council.
Absolutely. We are in a climate crisis, and as someone raising young children I think often about what their world will be like when they are my age. The decisions that our family makes are often made through the lens of what it means for the environment, climate change and the incredible natural world that surrounds us. I believe it’s key when making plans and creating a vision for our community.
Climate change is happening, and we need to not only adapt to changes that have clearly already begun but be proactive – not reactive – in our decisions moving forward. If elected, I would engage with the climate Caucus on issues relating to their mission.
Maybe. A caucus is nice but with potential flooding of half of the downtown by 2030 there is less time for talking, serious resilience planning needs to be discussed, evaluated and implemented at the local neighbourhood level. Analyzing data and talking about things is only the first step in the process and honestly we haven’t heard about any discussions or possible solutions at the local neighbourhood level. To me climate change planning (emergency) falls in with emergency planning which also needs to be done at the grassroots local level.
I already am a member of the Climate Caucus however not as engaged as I need to be with it. What drew me to the Climate Caucus in the first place was its holistic approach. The goal for resilient communities, that includes both health and a strong presence of social justice, is crucial to the challenges we are facing. So my commitment is to increase that level of engagement and look at ways I can apply that work into my role in municipal government.
Yes, I have joined “Climate Caucus” as it seems to have some excellent resources for municipal councillors.
If elected, I could not ensure that all Council decisions are made using the lens of mitigating climate change, as there are 6 members of Council in addition to the Mayor and all may not agree with climate as the deciding factor in making a particular decision.
I note that in the District of Sechelt’s 2019 - 2022 Strategic Plan, there is a commitment to “Wisely stewarding our scarce resources”, and “reinforcing our overall direction through the Official Community Plan and the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP).” Both of these commitment statements confirm that “Sustainability” is used in making critical decisions and I believe that climate change and sustainability are closely connected.
An important part of my platform is to call for an updating of the Official Community Plan for Sechelt, and ensure that Climate topics become a fundamental part of the document.
Admittedly, I don’t know enough about climate caucus one way or the other. Director Donna McMahon is already a member, and an avid supporter, of the initiative. Managing our natural assets is the only way we can afford to move forward as we learn to adapt to climate change. To build for climate change adaptation locally could easily cost our community millions of dollars.
Sunshine Coast Regional District
The Climate Caucus is a great resource for local governments to use to help guide them through the steps they can take to help mitigate climate emergencies.
Through the risk and vulnerability assessment the SCRD is using a methodology called Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities, (BARC) as a guide for planning and preparing for possible climate emergencies. The SCRD has completed 3 of the 5 milestones. Milestone 4 is the implementation stage; this is where the planning has to be put into action.
I am a member of the Climate Caucus and will always consider the impact on our environment when making decisions.
I will absolutely join.
We are in the midst of a climate crisis and mass extinction--everyone at the table should be a climate champion.
Every issue should be viewed through the lens of adapting and mitigating climate change.
We need to act with urgency and purpose.
The Climate Caucus is an amazing resource for elected leaders. Other municipalities and regional districts are constantly innovating, implementing strategies, and developing policies and programs designed to reduce emissions, lessen the effects of climate change, and build resilient and socially just communities.
There are so many templates out there, from all over the country. If elected, I will work with other board members to identify and research the initiatives that could be applied to the Sunshine Coast.
I would also commit to documenting and sharing our own work with the Climate Caucus, so our successes can be replicated in other communities.
The “mess around” part of late stage industrialization is coming to a close and the “find out” part is only just beginning. We have been lied to and brought to the brink of destruction by fools and greed. If we do more harm to the environment through our actions or inaction, we will be to blame and have to answer to our children for it. A group like Climate Caucus, while not having all the answers, is a great resource to guide our decisions in the right direction.
Answer not yet received.
I have been a member of the Climate Caucus since 2019 and am on the steering committee for BC (the BC Caucus). We will be coordinating webinars and information sessions for electeds this fall. While I'm frequently frustrated that many climate initiatives are inapplicable to small and rural communities, or to regional districts (or both!), I've benefitted from the resources and the networking.
I am also a member of the Climate Leadership Action Plan committee of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, and particularly value their collaboration with researchers at the University of Victoria.
I have joined the Climate Caucus and will consider other organizations that support my work as an elected official. I will always consider the impact of the Board decisions on the profound and ongoing threat of the climate emergency and how best to manage environmental protection when considering infrastructure and development proposals.
Question 3: Improve Environmental Regulation through Environmental DPAs
Scientific and economic studies repeatedly show that preserving natural ecosystems creates more benefits for local governments and communities than developing and/or replacing them with engineered infrastructure.
The 2019 UN Climate Action Summit brought great political attention to the power of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) for climate and sustainable development. It makes economic, social, and environmental sense for local governments to preserve Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) and “natural assets” for their 'ecosystem services'.
Environmental Development Permit Areas (EDPAs) are one of few legal tools local governments have to mitigate impacts of private land development. EDPAs are clearly identified areas within which development and land alteration must be regulated in order to protect natural assets and Environmentally Sensitive Areas. However, if DPA guidelines are not clear and supported with permitting policy and bylaws, they may become cumbersome or ineffective.
As an elected official will you agree to the following commitments?
- Improving your awareness of EDPAs and how they may be used to support environmental protection;
- Supporting the creation, use, and improvement of EDPAs, including bylaws and policies to protect ecological and natural asset values in your community and throughout the Sunshine Coast.
Again, its very important to get educated on our EDPAs and how they support the environment, that we need to protect in our life time. This not only helps us but also the future generations to come. There fore its prudent that we revisit our policies that may need to be updated and Bylaws visited in order to protect the future of our planet. This can and should be done in collaboration with our communities , different level of Governments and our Indigenous peoples.
Absolutely, this was identified as a priority by the last Council, it is now in process with a Request for Proposals being issued to expert contractors to assist staff in this work, and as mayor I will ensure that it continues to be a priority. It is especially effective to do this as a foundation for the OCP Update that I announced in my answer to the question regarding the Climate Caucus.
The Town currently has put out an RFP for the review of DPA 1 and DPA 2, to ensure that these tools are effectively working to ensure environmental protection and the range of criteria for this review has been expanded to ensure climate change is taken into consideration.
This review is in preparation to ensure by-laws are in alignment with the DPA’s and in turn the OCP, which is also coming up for review.
As an elected official will you agree to the following commitments?
Improving your awareness of EDPAs and how they may be used to support environmental protection;
I am very aware of the importance of EDPAs as a policy tool to support environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and climate resilience. Key ecosystems and areas in Gibsons under the EDPAs are:
- stream and riparian areas
- sensitive ecosystems such as the dryland forests in Gospel Rock
- ecosystems and species at risk
- habitat for keystone species
- wildlife corridors - to restore habitat connectivity and increase ecosystem resilience
- marine shore and eelgrass beds
- possible contaminated sites
- creating climate resilience
Supporting the creation, use, and improvement of EDPAs, including bylaws and policies to protect ecological and natural asset values in your community and throughout the Sunshine Coast.
Over the last term I have championed efforts to improve our current EDPAs by:
- Engaging, informing and advocating to earn Council support to prioritize the update of the Town’s current EDPAs in order to:
a) Expand environmental protection to include key habitats such as wildlife corridors and habitat for keystone species;
b) Secure the overall function and biodiversity of the terrestrial and aquatic habitats from impacts of projected climate change and urbanization to meet UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve Objectives - to conserve landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation;
c) Review bylaws, policy recommendations and other provisions to strength the protection of environmentally sensitive and geotechnically hazardous zones and adjacent areas.
- Engaging in several reviews of the Request for Proposal to recommend improvements including specific wording that supports the goals above. I.e. Requirement to engage a Registered Professional Biologist with long-term experience in BC Coastal Ecosystems delineating both fish and terrestrial habitats to conduct required assessments; and
- Supporting the Tree Preservation Bylaw (approved) and the development of an Urban Forest Plan (in progress)
YES. In connection with the above question (re the Climate Caucus) this must be done at the same time to give legitimacy to both. This must be an action item with high priority.
EDPAs are an ongoing project. The outgoing council has initiated reviews and updates. It will be our job to bring these into development permits and overarching bylaws as quickly as possible. It is also council’s responsibility to request internal reviews of any changes or possible updates to the towns framework and guidelines. All subject to professional review.
I make the following commitments, whether elected or not. I will:
- Improve my awareness of EDPAs, and how they may be used to support environmental protection; and
- Support the creation, use, and subsequent improvement of EDPAs, including through bylaw and policy change to better protect ecological and natural asset values in Gibsons and through the SCRD.
Yes, I will commit to improving my awareness of EDPA’s.
I would prefer to fully understand the structure of EDPA’s before committing to support their use. However, as indicated above, I am prepared to improve my awareness of them. In general, I will support bylaws and policies to protect ecological and natural asset values. The Town of Gibsons has recognized this with its natural asset management program which I will fully support.
- Improving your awareness of EDPAs and how they may be used to support environmental protection; YES
- Supporting the creation, use, and improvement of EDPAs, including bylaws and policies to protect ecological and natural asset values in your community and throughout the Sunshine Coast. YES
I am always open to learn more so am happy to agree to doing so with
respect to how to better use EDPAs. Also, I have noticed there are EDPAs that
appear to have been violated, especially shorelines (DPA3), and that restoration
efforts have not effectively addressed the damage. I favour penalizing these
actions more severely rather than tightening restrictions for people already
playing by the rules. Also, increased density, planned to preserve the integrity of
the small-town feel, can reduce the fracturing and stress caused to our natural
Yes. I will commit to improving my knowledge, and the knowledge of Sechelt Council and staff, of Environmental Development Permit Areas.
Environmental Development Permit Areas are a required and critical addition to a new Official Community Plans (OCP) for the District of Sechelt. A Zoning Bylaw must be consistent with, and support the OCP.
The District of Sechelt’s Official Community Plan (OCP) has Development Permit Areas (DPA’s) that deal with riparian setbacks, steep slopes, etc. Staff review these and ensure that developments/buildings comply with the requirements in the DPA’s. If a development is looking to request a variance of some sort, they must provide justification and a sign off by a Qualified Environmental Professional before the variance can even be considered.
When the OCP comes up for review in the next few years, we will also need to revisit and potentially update the DPA’s. Climate change impacts, like sea level rise, atmospheric rivers, etc. will need to be revisited and changes to account for them need to be reviewed and, if not already addressed, incorporated as well then.
As a real estate appraiser, I am aware of and review DPAs every day as required in the valuation process. SCRD mapping is a great tool that I use to identify and report on known or apparent DPAs which could include geo-technical, steep slopes, soils conditions, flood plains or of the presence of watercourses.
Where local governments have failed is to strengthen bylaws and policies to protect ecological and natural assets of our communities. A good example of very poor and inadequate EDPA mapping in Sechelt is the flood plain areas in Wilson Creek. The last report was in 2010 when I was on council and little if anything has been done to proceed with any capital or infrastructure works that were recommended in that report.
- I understand that EDPAs are the best proactive tool available to municipalities to protect our natural environments, ecosystems and biological diversity.
- I am completely committed to learning as much as I can about initiatives, organizations, resources, that will help our community become strong and resilient in addressing climate change.
This is a topic I’m learning about. As someone who loves to spend time outdoors with my family, I feel the importance of protecting areas from development. It’s what brings so many of us to this community, and once it’s gone there’s no way back. We have taken so much from the land, from Indigenous people that this seems like one way to preserve what has existed here for time immemorial and in a small way contribute to reconciliation.
We need to find ways to balance the growing demand for development with the protection of our community ecosystems and precious environment. EDPA’s may be an excellent tool our local government can use to help with this balance. I would support the further investigation and possible implementation of EDPA’s to help mitigate the impact on our environment while continuing with the thoughtful and careful development of Sechelt.
Yes. Many of my past decisions have been based on ecological considerations; I will continue to do so.
Yes. As a planner I use the DPAs in my work. Sensitive ecosystems are a different item and a specific layer on the SCRD Mapping. DPAs (Development Permit Areas) are generally to do with geotechnical engineering aspects in Sechelt. It would be beneficial to have Environmental Permit Areas to disallow development in such areas instead of thinking a development permit is adequate for dealing fairly and properly with areas in need of strong environmental protection.
Also a standard approach is needed in the individual watershed areas so that the specific needs of the ecosystems are acknowledged, preserved and protected consistently even though they may run through various municipal boundaries with different zoning bylaws in different political jurisdictions, etc.
Most politicians don’t know the difference between DPAs and EPAs. They have not required covenants and bylaws to protect the environment. We need to almost start planning here from scratch on the basis of watershed, environmentally sensitive areas, the development of buffers and greenways to protect their relationships between parks, based on the health of key indicator species etc. I asked the SCRD to take this approach about ten years ago.
Funny, that is how Alberta does its planning – based on watersheds downwards to the City level. This is knowledge and expertise I have but it seems the three legged stool of sustainability that has an environmental leg and a social leg is a one legged stool here concerned only about economics and residential development and summer tourism.
It is not to late to take a nature -based approach to planning. But it is almost too late. The nature based planning needs to be incorporated into a new Official Community Plan, and based especially on water accounting and scenarios, the land use zoning bylaw can be developed which will likely be more of a steady state/sustainable model rather than the current one based on constant growth, STRs and actually destruction of the environment and our quality of life. The current mismanagement only adds to the environmental and climate change problems we are currently experiencing. They will get worse but to what degree and how we deal with them is up to us.
Yes, and I think the District of Sechelt already has some comprehensive DPA’s in place. But given that updating the Official Community Plan is a priority, it is an excellent time to review our existing DPA’s and ways that they can be strengthened. As we are now seeing major weather events happen more frequently, it important that this guiding document be completed using a strong climate focus, including risk mitigation. Also as we work to inventory our assets, and their condition, we need to also include our natural assets in that conversation
If I’m elected I will certainly consult with our planning department with regard to the merits of an EDPA. As far as I’m aware, this type of provision was not mentioned in the 2010 OCP.
Throughout the course of a typical subdivision development application, many elements of a EDPA are undertaken by an applicant. For example, the Stage 1 tests such as Tree review, topographical review, potential hazard review, are all standard submissions by an applicant. It is the later stage tests and reports in the EDPA that create a higher standard of assessment for environmentally sensitive areas, such as coastline or fish-bearing streams.
We already have some fairly stringent requirements about riparian area set backs, making sure that work done meets with sensitive ecosystem management, etc. The OCP from 2010 contains DPA’s for both water courses as well as marine, foreshore, and shoreline areas. We have additional DPA’s pertaining to steep slope and rockfall hazards, so we’re pretty covered on places we shouldn’t be building.
One place that we do come up short is in tree protection. Sechelt was looking at implementing a tree cutting bylaw to ensure land isn’t cleared of trees needlessly, but that work was stalled due to the pandemic and higher priorities at the time (new zoning bylaw, moving forward rental housing projects).
Sunshine Coast Regional District
EDPAs seem like a valuable tool in helping to protect sensitive areas, and I will certainly look into the possible uses.
GIS mapping can also assist in locating areas that may have been overlooked previously, but now with a new or different understanding of what is a sensitive area and by mapping it, we can protect more of our ecosystem. Wetlands are an incredibly valuable system to the health of the whole ecosystem, so if we can protect more areas it would be time well spent.
Personally I think the whole coastline should be under an EDPA.
Residents and Area Directors are frustrated with the lack of control communities have over development projects. We do not have jurisdiction over subdivisions, so what can we do to make sure developments are sustainable, responsible, and are in line with our OCP?
EDPA’s are a great tool that, if used correctly, would allow us to guide our growth while protecting the land, its ecosystems and biodiversity.
We do need to make sure developments happen far enough away from connectivity corridors and key ecosystem elements—they are crucial to a healthy environment, and to ensuring the future generations have access to clean air and water.
EDPAs do have some drawbacks, but I would endeavour to work with the board and staff to navigate their complexity—if done right they could have a great positive impact on our communities and on the land.
I pledge to educate myself further on the subject, and, should I be elected, I will actively support the creation and use of EDPAs.
We can learn from other jurisdictions who once had what we have and did not protect it, and now they do not. Our natural surrounding is a boon to our economy as it is, in ecotourism, and the wholesale destruction of this resource should be considered a thing of the past. That said, as long as there are humans, there will be resource extraction, but sustainability is tantamount, without it we will be killing off the thing that brought most of us here.
Answer not yet received.
The DPAs presently in force in the SCRD are outdated and do not address the reality of our changing climate or the concerns of residents, especially around stormwater, aquifer protection, and tree cutting. This is an obvious area that needs to be addressed when our Official Community Plans (OCPs) are overhauled.
And we need to standardize our approach across the rural areas. Right now we have seven OCPs for 16,000 residents in five rural areas. This is cumbersome and confusing, and soaks up a lot of resources to manage. We can do better.
We also need help from the province to give us the tools to enforce our bylaws. And we need the province to ensure that their own policies and regulations are achieving the goals they claim they are striving for.
For more information see these two posts on my website:
Clean BC Roadmap – Rural Areas Need Help
Short Term Rentals: Real action needed for rural areas
I am familiar with DPA’s and how they can be used to support environmental protection goals. The language and presentation of Develop Permit Areas often present difficulties as they are not well understood by the general public and tend to be seen negatively. Communication is key with clear, easy to understand goals
and rationales backed up by plain-language fact sheets.
Should always be followed with ongoing education opportunities.
The biggest challenge is enforcement in rural areas which is generally by neighbour complaint only.
Question 4: Sue Big Oil for costs of Climate Impacts on Infrastructure
For decades, oil and gas corporations have known that burning fossil fuels would cause the heat waves, wildfires, drought and flooding that we’re now experiencing in BC. These multinational companies spent millions to deceive, deny and distract us on their way to billions in profit — specifically, 3 billion dollars per day for 50 years — by preventing action on climate change.
In 2018, the District of Sechelt, along with the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, voted to join 13 other communities around BC and send Climate Accountability letters to the Big Oil companies.
Now, West Coast Environmental Law is spearheading a Sue Big Oil campaign to force oil and gas corporations to change their business practices and pay their fair share for the harm they’re causing. The City of Vancouver has already signed on.
Will you commit to protecting taxpayers by seeking to recover a fair share of climate costs from the fossil fuel companies who profit from selling products that cause climate change? Specifically, if elected, would you ask your Council to do the following:
- take urgent action to reduce our fossil fuel use and protect us from future heat waves, wildfires, flooding and other climate impacts;
- set aside at least $1 per person towards a community fund to sue Big Oil;
- join with other local governments to file a class action lawsuit to recover a fair share of our climate costs;
- work to build equitable, sustainable systems for transportation, housing and food that put people and the planet before corporate profits; and
- cooperate with Indigenous peoples in doing so.
Educating the big oil companies on the benefits of changing their methods in use will be a high priority on my list in collaboration with our Indigenous peoples. Over the recent past years we have seen the damage done to our environment, both via the flooding we see in Pakistan, to the destruction we have recently seen in Florida and the Nodstream 1 and 2 sabotage in Europe. We really have to step on the brakes and stop and rethink our course forward.
I'm not a strong supporter of collecting 1$ from individuals to aid in our fight against oil companies but instead negotiate a support from our high level government in order to help us with this fight. Scandec survey has carried out and extensive survey on climate change where change should have been carried out yesterday rather then tomorrow.
Introducing of Net zero ready construction in the near future with incentives, like fast track permits would be a priority for me. Transportation services that is electric, more frequent and smaller in size would be an added bonus not only for our environment but also for our youth and Teenage population. A zero waste for food is something we have been doing within our business for 8 years.
Yes, though I am interested in coordinating the $1 per person through a community fundraising effort led by the Town, to better engage community “buy-in” rather than it just being slipped onto the property tax bill.
Almost ten years ago, the Council prior to the one I was on supported the concept of accepting community donations to take up an ownership stake in the former Yacht Club land bordering a waterfront park and marina. At that time, one of the biggest reasons I was a strong supporter of this effort was the positive community energy and social capital that was going into purchasing a valuable private property for community use, including a marine education and research centre. A lot of other energy around the town at the time was rather negative stemming from a rotten local economy at the time and divisive debates over development projects, and I hoped to see this positive social capital channelled into other community projects and charitable causes in the future. I feel like the results since, though, have been mixed… but I am still hopeful.
So I am very attracted to the idea of adopting the “Sue Big Oil” project as a Town-supported fundraising drive that will generate dialogue and engagement. There are even improved fundraising platforms today that can make such an effort far less onerous on Town staff than the fundraising of a decade ago.
Regarding “equitable transportation and housing” these are major priorities of mine. We need to make some progress with representing the community TO BC Ferries, rather than the rut our local elected officials have recently accepted of representing BC Ferries back to the community.
BC Ferries is of course a privatized corporation and in a lot of ways we are not seeing it put people ahead of corporate profits. It seems they are happily lapping up the practice of wealthy visitors filling up the schedule with reservations while locals who absolutely need to use the ferry as our “highway” languish in lineups and miss important appointments.
Through all this advocacy, however, it’s essential to continue to make carless travel on the ferry more viable. To be quite honest (and controversial to the many of us who travel only by car), I’d love to see an additional smaller boat dedicated to medically assured loading, seniors and walk-ons offer RELIABLE service even if the regular ferry focused on vehicle traffic and tourism offered less-than-reliable service. That would set up a good incentive for people to leave their cars at home and demand for improved transit on both sides.
Within the Town, too, we need to encourage more active transportation and advocate for improved vehicle routes that will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists especially around our schools.
And importantly, I plan to push the SCRD and BC Transit to prioritize the addition of a Gibsons-only bus that goes up and down the hill and out to neighbourhoods all day long, to supplement the current routes that pass through between the ferry and Sechelt. I believe this route would be extremely well used, improve life for seniors and youth especially, and make it FAR more viable to people to live in Gibsons without needing a car.
Again I know this is controversial to the many car lovers I hear from daily, but I strongly believe this is a more progressive direction to go in than continuing to support a local culture where PARKING is paramount. This seems to be more deeply entrenched in Gibsons than anywhere else in the world, from my experience: sorry, but we need to let go of the entitled expectation that we should be able to easily park a few metres away from our destination—except for ensuring sufficient handicapped spaces of course—and embrace the idea that so many other communities have that at least for our planet, we do need to make it more inconvenient to drive and park everywhere you want and instead opt for walking, cycling and taking transit. (And beyond the environment, there are so many other positive outcomes of this approach too, including community health.)
I fully support action to reduce our fossil fuel use and currently I have supported efforts in the community to engage EV’s where possible for municipal operations, installation of solar and better practices to reach zero emissions.
I certainly agree that we need to seek compensation for the damage that has been done to our environment – and I am fully aware that in the case of tobacco companies, and big pharma they have compensated claimants -- I would much prefer to come up with a campaign to guilt the big oil companies into assuming responsibility, and doing something proactive about the damage they have caused. We also need to consider the damage we have caused by our actions in embracing the use of fossil fuels to those who have had no say or have not been part of the problem. At this point my concern is that the only people who are going to benefit are the lawyers – I have yet to see any lawyers take on our cause pro bono.
For years I have been advocating people and the planet over profit –
I mentioned earlier that I am a member of the Climate Caucus, I would like to see more of the climate groups come together to create a louder voice. Work with youth, they are the generation who will suffer the most if serious action is not taken -- and those who caused it aren’t held accountable.
We need to work with first nations to embrace their traditional reverence for the land and this fragile planet, and preserve something of value for future generations --
Transportation on the coast is a major issue – we have this long ribbon from Langdale to Lund, many dead end roads that lead off the main roads, I am currently working with a small group, who are brainstorming to offer some viable options. The possible combination of services to provide multiple use rather that specific purpose transportation service.
I have hope with the combination of talent within the group we can offer some credible, viable solutions, and get more private vehicles off the road.
Housing is part of the solution – as much as people resist it, densification is needed – put people’s homes where the services are to eliminate the need for private vehicle use – engage more with active transportation to provide save routes between A & B. Right now walking or cycling along some of our roads is like exercising in a gas chamber. Safe alternatives are needed.
With climate change I also am very worried about food sustainability in the community, it doesn’t take too much these days to interrupt the supply chain, leaving us totally vulnerable we need to work hard to ensure we have food security – look at what the east coast is going through as we speak.
Yes. I will commit to bring a motion to the Council table that involves all five requests above.
In 2019, I brought this issue to the Council table and asked for support from Council to send Accountability Letters to the Big Oil companies. Unfortunately my request was not endorsed. With the climate impacts experienced in the past four years and costs associated with these impacts growing, it is likely that Council will be more open to endorse the motion above now.
The text below was part of one of my answers from the 2018 SCCA set of questions but I find relevant to bring it back as it provides a rationale for the motion.
“Fossil fuel companies have known the detrimental effects of greenhouse gases since the 1960’s and have chosen to ignore it. Additionally, they have been heavily invested in hiding the truth and denying that climate change was caused by greenhouse gases. Moreover, fossil fuel companies have suppressed clean technologies by acquiring green energy patents and burying them so they could continue investing in fossil fuel production. As a result, they must be accountable to countries and the communities that now bear the terrible consequences of climate change.
Communities in the U.S. and Peru have sent climate accountability letters to the top 20 fossil fuel companies and so have 10 local governments across BC. As public opinion shifts, pressure will be put in the BC government to pass a new law – Liability for Climate-related Harms Act - to establish a legal basis for lawsuits against fossil fuel companies similar to what BC has done in the past to be able to sue tobacco companies and recover healthcare costs associated with it.
Not only communities would be able to recover part of the costs associated with emergency relief or climate change adaptation efforts (e.g., infrastructure upgrades), but such movement will incentivise stakeholders to invest in clean energy and divest from fossil fuels.”
NO – Law suits do not produce results in the short term and the long term for these are decades – Those that take this approach are free to do so but municipal governments must put their energy and resources into immediate action items
Big oil must pay! if I was making billions of dollars and the result was any type of destruction, it must be remedied.
If elected, I will work with Council colleagues and staff to pursue the following objectives:
- Reduce the Town's and town residents' fossil fuel, inspiring citizens to help protect human and other species from future heat waves, wildfires, flooding and other climate impacts;
- Set aside $1 per person towards a community fund to sue Big Oil;
- Stand in solidarity with plaintiffs pursuing a a class action lawsuit that seeks to recover a fair share of our climate costs;
- Work to build equitable and interconnected, sustainable systems for transportation, housing and food; and
- Cooperate with Indigenous peoples as legislated, per our UNDRIP commitments, and following the recommendations of the TRC.
I have answered separate points from this question individually below:
- take urgent action to reduce our fossil fuel use and protect us from future heat waves, wildfires, flooding and other climate impacts
Personally I strongly support the reduction of our fossil fuel use and efforts to protect us from heat waves, wildfires, flooding and other climate impacts
- set aside at least $1 per person towards a community fund to sue Big Oil;
As a representative of the community, I’m not convinced Gibsons citizens support the idea of suing Big Oil as a method of reducing climate problems. At the present time, I could not support this initiative.
- join with other local governments to file a class action lawsuit to recover a fair share of our climate costs;
Please see my answer above.
- work to build equitable, sustainable systems for transportation, housing and food that put people and the planet before corporate profits;
- cooperate with Indigenous peoples in doing so.
I am not in favour of this project to hire a law firm to fight other lawyers (likely to the Supreme Court of Canada.) I think this will only enrich the lawyers and I believe there are better, more practical ways to achieve the goals of reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.
I am committed to building sustainable infrastructure included for transportation, food and housing. A focus on true sustainability and adopting modern best practices will deliver the results that are best for our community and for the world, without the need for lawsuits, in my opinion.
Sue Big Oil is an evolving legal process, and I will commit as the Sechelt Mayor to ensure I am informed of the role of BC local governments, including short and long-term costs, and benefits to the community.
I will investigate, and implement actions to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
Funding of a Canadian Class Action lawsuit would be dependent on legislation, financial discussions and would be the joint decision of staff, and Council.
Equitable access to housing, food transportation, health care are issues I am currently engaged in, and my voice as your Mayor will be heard.
I will work with all people.
I have met with a representative of SCCA and laid out the process to bring this conversation to council this fall. We will need to have more information provided to us and have a conversation with the community. We will also need staff to investigate the impacts to our staff resources and our community before we can vote on it. This would need to be budgeted and approved by the majority of council to move forward in our budget deliberations.
Under the Class Proceedings Act 37 (1) “Subject to this section, neither the Supreme Court nor the Court of Appeal may award costs to any party to an application for certification under section 2 (2) or 3, to any party to a class proceeding or to any party to an appeal arising from a class proceeding at any stage of the application, proceeding or appeal.”
At the recent “Sue Big Oil” information session in Roberts Creek, the guest speaker indicated that as a certified class action suit, this usually benefits representative plaintiffs and class counsel by limiting the risk of a costs award against them and a significant difference between class proceedings in BC and Ontario.
Based on that understanding, I would support a motion to set aside $1 per resident (approximately $10,000) and implement the above actions by requesting a review of current practices and requesting alternative and more sustainable solutions be incorporated in our annual budgets and capital works projects.
- There are many ways that we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. For example, turning off our lights, using appliances with the ENERGY STAR label, reusing products that require fossil fuel to produce - cloth bags, versus plastic shopping bags, etc, taking public transportation.
- Public education is an integral part of making this happen and I would like to see more initiatives for public education.
- I attended the "Sue Big Oil Campaign" at the Legacy Garden in Roberts Creek on September 18th. It was great to see so many community members out to show their support for our environment.
- At this point, I believe the next step will be to have the campaign group make a presentation to the District of Sechelt Council. If I am chosen to be a member of council, I will look encourage and look forward to this presentation.
This is a complex topic and I am not currently informed enough about suing Big Oil, how that process would work and the expectation from a community like Sechelt and the municipality staff. I believe that we do have to take urgent action to reduce the use of fossil fuels particularly as it relates to how emergencies such as fire, flooding have and will impact Sechelt. Those decisions must be made by listening to and cooperating with Indigenous people.
I believe more review of the lawsuit and the organization behind it is required, as well as consultation with the public to get the community’s views and thoughts before making any decisions or setting aside any money to join this class action lawsuit. At this time, I would NOT commit to joining Sue Big Oil.
Yes, I have always been committed to the search for fossil fuel alternatives and the lessening of fossil fuel effects. Mitigation is a key component of our quest to preserve and protect, to be stewards.
Producer responsibility should be an ongoing topic at all stakeholder meetings, to negotiate that a portion of profits be put aside for mitigation, protection and preservation, is not onerous .
I signed the Big Oil petition at the event and have been seeking more petition signatures as I campaign.
This is something that we need to give consideration to. The costs of climate change are hitting us square in the pocket book, there is no doubt. Events that were only once every 10 years are now happening once every 2-3 years. And that frequency number lowers with have half degree of temperature rise. All my life, I have looked to the science to guide my professional practice, this is no different. That being said, this is tax payers money that we are being asked to spend. We need to hear from the community, and learn more about any risks involved with being involved in a class action lawsuit. I look forward to a presentation in my next term.
I attended a meeting in Roberts Creek on September 18th to learn more about this effort and am still trying to determine the proper course of action if elected as a Councillor.
From a personal standpoint, I am convinced our oil-based economy must change in a fundamental way and so I am happy to contribute money toward a class action suit, even though many details of the actual suit have not been determined, such as what legal firm would launch the suit, how long the case would be expected to take and the total expected budget, etc.
However as an elected Councillor, I have reservations about recommending that Council commit taxpayers money to this cause where we don’t have a sense if most taxpayers agree with this particular measure.
I suggest that the “Sue Big Oil” group make a presentation to Council to have the matter debated and voted upon. One course of action is to request that the District endorse the plan but try to raise the funds voluntarily through a crowd-sourcing method.
This is a fundamental shift in community values that I believe needs to come from the community in the form of a well represented, and high signature petition. If such a petition comes forward to show that our community is supportive of this endeavor, then I will support it. I do recognize the value of resource extraction in our country, and the sheer number of items that require petroleum to function. I’m also not opposed to an EPR fee being applied to petroleum in order to help fund the climate adaptation work that we’re going to have to undertake as a society.
Sunshine Coast Regional District
Polluters should pay. This action is very similar to the big tobacco lawsuit.
The SCRD is taking action by working to convert their fleet to electric vehicles with the purchase of 3 new electric vehicles and adding charging stations to support the changeover.
The SCRD is working on a MOU with BC transit to provide better service in an effort to increase ridership in our community, and get more vehicles off the road.
Set aside $1 per person, needs to be phrased correctly as, will you add a $1 tax per person.
I would not commit to a tax without hearing from constituents first.
I support joining the Sue Big Oil class action lawsuit. I believe we have to use every tool at our disposal to reduce our fossil fuel dependency, and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Big Oil companies are selling us a dangerous product that has catastrophic effects on our planet. They have lied to us, and their deception is jeopardizing our very survival--all in the name of profit.
We are a coastal community. We will be faced with many climate change-related challenges in the future, and it will cost us taxpayers a lot of money. As I write, hurricane Ian is wrecking havoc on the east coast, and the damage it is causing is almost impossible to comprehend. In BC, just last year, we lost over 600 lives due to a heat dome that was so extreme scientists determined it was a once-in-10,000 years event. The town of Lytton was burned down after reaching a record-breaking 49C. Then the atmospheric rivers came and the lower mainland suffered catastrophic losses due to flooding—the cost of rebuilding is estimated at 9 billion dollars.
Taxpayers should not have to bear the crushing weight of these costs; I think it is only fair to demand that companies who sold us a dangerous product, profited immensely from it, and lied about its effects, help pay for the costs of repairs. We can look to the class action lawsuits against Big Tobacco, Big Asbestos and Big Pharma for inspiration.
This lawsuit poses very little financial risks for municipalities; if we lose we wouldn’t have to pay damages or court costs.
Lawsuits do take a long time, but while the wheels of justice grind, we can find comfort in the fact that the five big oil companies will have to disclose to all potential investors that they are being sued, making them a riskier investment.
If elected, I would want to vote in favour. Should there be strong opposition in my community, I will be open to review my position. But I believe, and I hope to convince everyone, that it is in our best interests to join this class action lawsuit.
Take urgent action to reduce our fossil fuel use and protect us from future heat waves, wildfires, flooding and other climate impacts;
The SCRD should encourage as many programs to cut the use of single rider trips, car sharing, rural “uber” and other programs. Bike lanes get some people out of their cars and done well enough, will bring others from far afield just to enjoy our coast, with spin off economic benefits.
Set aside at least $1 per person towards a community fund to sue Big Oil;
Join with other local governments to file a class action lawsuit to recover a fair share of our climate costs;
Work to build equitable, sustainable systems for transportation, housing and food that put people and the planet before corporate profits;
A robust mass transit system that is free to use will actually save money in infrastructure costs. Many changes to work in these areas are with higher levels of government and lobbing will be an essential part of getting the right things done.
Cooperate with Indigenous peoples in doing so.
We need to look at our time her as stewards of the land for our children's use. First Nations understand that, the place we are is not ours, it is in our care. When you borrow something, you return it better than when you received it.
Answer not yet received.
I agree that big oil should pay for their reckless disregard of climate consequences, but this is one of those instances where it's easy to say "sure let's pay $1 per person" but hard to do. The SCRD can't spend money on anything that we don't have a "service" for—in other words, that has not been formally established with the assent of the voters.
Recently we've had a number of instances where we're challenged to spend money on an important initiative, even though the cause is worthy and the amount is small. I raised this issue with staff at West Coast Environmental Law, and they said they are researching the question of how to help regional districts be more flexible about climate action within the limitations of our legislation. (Thank you, WCEL!)
Talking of which, there is (finally!) a move afoot to revise the legislation that governs regional districts, which is largely unchanged since they were established in 1965. Financial flexibility is one of many concerns. I will be advocating strongly for the involvement of the electoral areas of regional districts in this legislative update.
Almost half a million people live in unincorporated areas in BC, which have been treated as a resource industry hinterland. We have very little control over land use and environmental decisions, not to mention that our governance structure lacks accountability and transparency.
Sue Big Oil - I think there is a lot of potential in a lawsuit in similar ways to how
tobacco companies knew of the health hazards and deliberately hid the
I would like to see how this fits with other climate emergency response initiatives
and what other projects are being considered. If there is an ability for the
Regional District to participate in this initiative I would certainly consider it..
I will commit to taking further action to mitigate the impacts of the climate
emergency and support ways of lessening the impact of heatwaves, storms, fires
and flooding on the communities on the Sunshine Coast.
Question 5: Adapting to and Mitigating Climate Induced Flooding
As the climate changes, we are seeing increasing average annual rainfall and experiencing more frequent intense rainfall events and more rapid snowmelt. Meanwhile, average summer rainfall is decreasing.
Extreme precipitation events are happening more often, resulting in increased runoff across a dry landscape. Water isn’t absorbed into the soils, riparian areas and aquifers. These conditions create major challenges with runoff and erosion management, increase flood risk and decrease source area recharge.
Estimated costs of “rebuilding” after the tragic BC atmospheric river floods (2021) are in the billions of dollars. And, this doesn't account for long term impacts on fish, as the flooding occurred when the salmon were coming home to spawn.
If elected, how will you work with your Council/Board to adapt to these extreme and changing conditions, mitigate impacts on communities, infrastructure and fish habitat?
Educating our young population in thinking climate change and environmentally friendly would be the best way forward, where schools would be given incentives to educate.
Please watch the debate that's on line for more on my discussion on the above topics.
I’d certainly get back to working with the Squamish Nation and provincial government on a project to restore fish habitat and spawning in Gibsons Creek (which we should rename at the same time, considering it runs through Ch'ḵw'elhp). I worked on this as a councillor about 6-7 years ago; as mayor, I can make it a higher priority, especially with the awesome community work in creek enhancement that has emerged over the last couple years through the leadership of the SCCA and others.
Regarding infrastructure and impact mitigation, I truly feel Gibsons is doing amazing work in this area (though again there is a disconnect in community awareness it seems; however, I encourage everyone with interest to check out the large “sustainability” section on the Town website and reports like the Climate Resilience Project that was a partnership between the Town, a community in Quebec, the David Suzuki Institute and the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI)).
When it comes to, say, massive infrastructure projects to adapt to sea level rise, I cannot say I’m excited about the prospect of building a ten-metre high wall around the Town’s waterfront. So the Town is currently headed in the right direction by exploring the impact of natural asset approaches to this problem. I suspect that once the Town has fully explored these options (again, check out the Climate Resilience Project), we will find a solution somewhere in the middle and I understand that major federal funding applications are already in the works that I hope to see secured under this next Council.
Also, the White Tower Park stormwater pond project, initiated two Councils back, will surely come to fruition under the next Council. This is another important piece of work mitigating the climate-related stormwater impacts of heavy rains. Even without it, what we have seen in recent years is the Town’s stormwater management system based on the natural assets approach holding up extremely well compared to our neighbouring areas—I have recently seen no flooded ditches and roads in the Town compared to what we’ve seen nearby in Areas D, E and F maintained by the SCRD and Capilano Highways.
These problems just outside of town of course still impose significant impositions on us as well as impositions and costs to our close neighbours—so again, I think there is great opportunity here in helping to share our successful approaches with the SCRD and Capilano Highways and working together more collaboratively.
We are constantly witnessing climate and weather extremes totally unpresented events. We need to ensure we are using best practices to mitigate these extreme events. During the “Atmospheric River” last November – and we were only hit with the edge of it – we saw major damage to our neighbours infrastructure and massive impact on wildlife habitat. We were very lucky in Gibsons that our use of natural assets for storm water management worked.
In the lower mainland we witnessed over 55 billion dollars of damage to infrastructure alone this figure does not include individual losses or the long term impact on wildlife and their habitat.
We need to work together not only to buffer our systems for flood we need to also address the potential of fire – we have been lucky to date, but there are massive amounts of fuel building up in our local forests.
The municipalities are working together to mitigate some of these issues – we are also as “Team Sunshine Coast” lobbying provincial and federal ministries to ensure we are able to protect our natural assets. Highways, forests, and mining need to come together and work with us to ensure one isn’t compromising our safety and environment.
In my first term on Council, I read (and re-read) all of the Town’s bylaw, policies and major reports and guiding documents. Throughout my professional experience, I have also gained understanding of the array of ecosystem services that nature provides and we depend on such as: water filtration and provision, food and shelter for wildlife, erosion and flood control, pollination, critical habitat for fish and marine invertebrates, recreation and tourism among others.
Healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change impacts. Protecting and restoring ecosystems to ensure these ecosystem services continue to be provided in the long-term is the responsibility of municipal governments and therefore mine. I am aware of the challenges communities face when it comes to adapting and mitigating to changing conditions and will always champion projects, plans and initiatives that create climate resilience.
The Town’s Integrated Stormwater Management approach to utilising retention ponds to store storm water and slowly release it in the environment has not only proven financially successful but a powerful tool to:
- Control excess runoff across the landscape reducing flooding and erosion
- Reduced runoff help prevent water pollution, benefiting fish habitat
- Increase water infiltration and percolation into the soils, riparian areas and aquifers, supporting overall ecosystem health, especially during the summer months
The Town in partnership with Streamkeepers have been conducting flow creek monitoring in Charman, Chaster and Gibson Creeks to better understand climate change impacts on creek structure, downstream flooding, water quality and fish health. We have also conducted a professional assessment in Charman Creek to evaluate the state of the creek and identify locations for remediation.
Based on these assessments Council directed staff to investigate and report on actions required to designate Charman, Creek, its watershed and the Charman Lands as a protected conservation area. This is a very important and responsible initiative that Council has taken to increase climate resilience, erosion control, biodiversity conservation as well as human health and tourism.
I have been supportive and many times lobbied for these initiatives and will continue to do if elected.
Next steps will be to develop and implement an Urban Forest plan in order to:
- increase tree cover in the medium and long-term
- increase ecosystems services provided by a healthier forest
- reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect
- increase water infiltration and percolation
- improve flood mitigation and erosion control
- ensure our creeks and forests are resilient to climate change impacts
- support biodiversity conservation, and in particular maintain viable fish populations
- beautify our natural environment
- support an active and healthy community
- support tourism
- overall improve the Town’s Climate Resilience
If elected, I will work with Gibsons Council colleagues, and SCRD Board Directors to adapt policies, including those that all coastal jurisdictions adhere to in common, to better mitigate impacts on our communities, reduce stresses on our infrastructure, enhance the natural health and functional well-being of our skies and forests, and to preserve and naturalize our fish habitat as much as possible. Further, I will advocate for enhanced public engagement and education around these issues, so that residents and visitors engage with and participate in climate change prevention, mitigation and resiliency strategies of their own volition more.
Climate Adaptation Planning strategies must be key in the OCP review and update. Step up the efforts in environmental protection and GGE reduction planning. I was at the Zero Waste Conference put on by Metro Vancouver last week. There are many innovative ways we can adapt what other larger communities are implementing successfully. From food strategies, managing of construction waste, to independent Renewable Energy.
If elected I will suggest creating a committee dedicated to the discussion of environmental innovations within our community.
It is vital that we ANTICIPATE the impacts of Climate Change and put mitigating measures in place BEFORE they happen. In most cases, we have the technology and tools to identify in advance what is likely to happen, along with acknowledging the reality that some things have already happened. What is required is the will to implement such and for everyone to accept there are impacts (including cost) to doing so.
During the Sea Level Rise Symposium that I organized last year (mentioned above), we considered numerous options and started the challenging conversation about what is best for Sechelt. We will move this forward as a priority. The good news is there are practical solutions that will help us effectively address the impacts of Climate Change, including flooding and storm surges in Sechelt.
Adapting to and mitigating Climate induced flooding is vital to protect our community, our infrastructure and natural resources such as fish habitat.
I will utilize local government staff, and services to ensure proactive work is completed during dry weather phases to prepare, and protect our community during heavy rainfall.
Identify risks, and eliminate.
On the Sunshine Coast, we have multiple jurisdictions with overlapping responsibilities. While the roads in Sechelt are under the care and maintenance of the District, the highway that runs through our municipality, and is the spine of the highway network here, is under the jurisdiction of the BC Ministry of Transportation. We also require their approval for any development within a certain distance from the highway.
At the Union of BC Municipalities conference, Team Sunshine Coast got a commitment from MOTI staff to work collaboratively on budgeting and projects going forward. This is important because during the last atmospheric river event, we saw the highway through Davis Bay flooded yet again and realized that culverts under the highway meant to handle stormwater flows were undersized for the volume of water that we are seeing during these events. There is lots of work to be done in collaboration with MOTI.
With regards to culverts throughout the District, Staff at the District of Sechelt created and implemented an improved process to maintain flow of culverts and reduce damage from future atmospheric events
The Parks Department is expanding the planting of drought-resistant plants in parks and flower beds. For a number of years now, we’ve stopped using SCRD potable water to water our flower beds and trees in the District. We use water from a ground source in the District.
We hosted an educational event for the community called Game of Floods to raise awareness in the community about the potential impact of sea level rise in the District of Sechelt.
Currently, the District of Sechelt is in the process of working with the SCRD on a grant application to determine the impacts of sea level rise on all our coastal regions.
There is a lot more work to do and we need to work with the Provincial and Federal Governments on funding of the mitigation/adaptation measures necessary.
One interesting comment I have is that one of the last reports that Sechelt had done on the Chapman Creek Flood Hazard Assessment (2010) by Kerr Wood Liedal was during my time on council. It appears that nothing has been done by any of the councils since that time. I strongly recommend voters download the PDF (available on the DoS website).
The first thing we must do is develop a master plan to review any previous studies (like the above KWL report) that identifies our exposure to local effects of climate change and request a more comprehensive report with recommendations to improve our bylaws and policies and, more importantly, recommend and prioritize actions.
We must include in our annual budgets ways to undertake works annually in our operating and capital budgets as we go forward to reduce the impacts on our communities and infrastructure and fish habitats every year.
We should start with reviewing our existing infrastructure to identify potential weaknesses in locations, or aging water and sewer lines, such as our new sewer plant, as it is very close to sea level and should have never been built there. Other areas include our exposure to our low-lying waterfront along Salish Seas and Sechelt Inlet. We are now experiencing washouts along the highway almost annually in Davis Bay now and potential flooding in low-lying areas such as Wilson Creek.
All of our neighbourhoods have some exposure to the effects of climate change and sea level rise. I would request a standing committee be established to develop a master plan, make recommendations for prioritizing capital works in the annual budget and reporting on our progress to Sechelt residents.
- We need to include monitoring, collection and analysis of data over space and time so we are able to inform decision-makers. This will enable more proactive decision making versus reactive decision-making.
- I have heard of some interesting solutions from various municipalities and I would like to see these discussed further as a solution for our community. To name a few:
- Looking at watershed modelling and thinking about how does water behave? How does it move? Where is it going to go? And what is development that's taking place upstream? These can help municipalities assess the short-and-long impact of rain, storm surge and runoff on current and future development.
- Increase permeability where possible - swapping pavement and concrete for permeable surfaces like vegetarian - and increasing urban density for future development.
As a member of council, I would consider every decision and discussion that comes forward by considering how it will impact my children, their children, and the generations who come after. Sechelt has an opportunity to be a leader should we choose. That means asking ourselves, our colleagues and our community some tough questions. Gone are the days when we could only think ahead to the next election. We must work collaboratively with our community to find creative and sustainable solutions. It’s an approach that I know can work, and look forward to bringing that to council.
Immediate consultation with the appropriate professionals is required to prepare a plan so we can start doing what is needed to mitigate the effects of global climate change. We must also advocate higher levels of government to do their part to help proactively adapt and prepare for the inevitable climate changes that are predicted for the not-too-distant future.
I have always insisted that the community forest cut not include the watersheds. The province needs to amend the tenure allotment.
As for stewardship and ecological responsibility, community control over the cut was always my goal when we acquired this license. Appointing an eco sensitive board and leadership is key.
Regular oversight and communication is also key; if this is not occurring at the moment, I would insist that we go back to the governance model of a few years ago in which there was more public oversight via an activist council, as the people of Sechelt are the sole shareholders.
One of my 4 points on my Livability campaign platform is “resilience”. I try to explain to people what that means - especially since the SCRD has reported about half of Sechelt village, along with our sewage and highway, are projected to flooded due to sea rise by 2030. Maybe sooner.
We need another sewage plant maybe at Dusty Road because the one we have at Surf Circle is probably already at capacity (estimated 2024 instead of 2052 as touted by then Mayor Henderson), a bridge to raise the highway over the land that will “no longer be between two waters” but will be water.
We need to NOT pass pro development zoning bylaw 580 and to halt all short term rentals until a real sustainability plan can be made. To not do so wrongfully commits existing taxpayers to foot the bill and suffer to provided unavailable resources to countless potential newcomers just so money can be made off a few local business people and land owners in Sechelt. Council and other potential candidates need to get their heads out of the sand (and gravel pit) and get real.
The public interest of local residents and the ENVIRONMENT needs to be protected. Too much run off is because of too much development in a manner that removes all trees for starters. This approach is in contravention with the OCP but it happens anyway. People who buy these houses are not really to blame (eg. Seawatch) but they pay the price anyway. We need to mitigate the risks by making better choices in the first place.
While some of the potentially involved infrastructure is within the District of Sechelt, much is not. This is a great example of how important advocacy work with between us and the province is. A meeting with MOTI was held with regards to deteriorating infrastructure at the most recent UBCM. Planning also needs to include a discussion around areas that will no longer be safe to live in due to sea level rise.
One of my priorities if elected is to make updating of the Official Community Plan a strategic priority for the District. This vision document should contain a distinct section on Climate change incorporating current reports such as the Sunshine Coast Community Action Plan Development (June 2022) and work by the SCRD Sustainable Development Division, which is expected to produce a report by Spring 2023.
One of the lessons from our current water supply crisis is that climate modelling to anticipate impacts on infrastructure have proven to be inaccurate over a relatively short period of time. Changes in climate are moving far faster than anticipated. I believe that the updated OCP must detail each of the significant impacts already experienced and then chart a course of action in regard to infrastructure improvements and reduction in Green House Gasses needed to be taken over the next 10 year life of the OCP.
With regard to forestry and increased threat of forest fire, the SCRD and District of Sechelt are in the early stages of implementing elements of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. In addition I suggest that the District consult with agencies already active within each of the mitigation areas. For example, the District should seek input from groups already involved in local ecosystems, such as the Salish Sea Nearshore Habitat Recovery Project SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, that have been charting changes to Sechelt Inlet over the past 5 years and taking measures to improve fish habitat. Similar environmental groups involved in other areas, such as forestry should be consulted.
District of Sechelt staff have been leaders in bringing forward adaptation to current policy around stormwater runoff, culvert maintenance, and other infrastructure issues. We need to continue to support the work that they’re doing on that front. As an organization, the District of Sechelt does not have the resources or jurisdiction to be involved everywhere it needs to be. That’s where community partnerships (such as eel grass replanting) and advocacy (such as with MOTI around highway infrastructure and drainage in the rural areas) makes a significant difference.
Sunshine Coast Regional District
Greenshore is another great resource that many coastal communities are using to help guide them in mitigating the impacts climate change is having in coastal communities. The recent zoning change that includes a 15 meter setback is a good start.
We need to stop allowing large docks and breakwaters that have a negative impact on fish habitat and the ocean environment.
The SCRD has recently received a grant for a new mapping software that will help predict where coastal flooding may occur. This will help us in preparing for winter storm surges.
We have to turn to nature and find ways to redress the balance.
We need to look at hybrid solutions that combine man-made infrastructure and large-scale nature-based solutions. While man-made infrastructure would offer immediate protection in the short-term. nature-based solutions (NBS) would increase our resilience in the long-term.
NBS include preserving and regenerating forest in flood-prone areas, creating flood storage basins, and restoring wetlands. Not only would these endeavours protect us from the negative effects of climate change, they would also create ecosystems and support biodiversity. We could apply Environmental Development Permit Areas to make sure future developments are done responsibly; EDPAs would allow us to protect key ecosystems that are at the front line in our fight against climate change.
If elected, I would work collaboratively with the first nations, SCRD board and staff, to identify nature-based solutions to mitigate storm water runoff.
It would be advantageous if I could make the Board realize that we are in as much of a crisis situation as the world faced in the years 1939-45. Churchill said during the formation of the UN, following the war, “never let a good crisis go to waste”. Dramatic change inevitably uncovers fresh insight, and points to opportunities for growth. Extraordinary things can be done, if we decide to do them. We need great action, and soon, if we are to get through these times with a habitat that supports nature, and in turn, ourselves.
Answer not yet received.
Trying to deal with stormwater involves us in a nightmarish spaghetti of overlapping jurisdictions, and public and private lands. Again, we need a lot of help here from senior government. Local taxpayers should not have to shoulder the costs caused by decades of poor decisions by the province.
At a recent meeting with MOTI staff we learned that they are receiving additional funding for climate adaptation. Local MOTI staff are well aware of the myriad stormwater problems we face on the coast, and they are prioritizing projects to address some of the worst ones. They are also aware that just upsizing culverts to dump more water into our creeks is not the answer; we need to manage stormwater through measures such as catchment ponds (or rain gardens). Whether this understanding will translate into forward-thinking action is yet to be seen; the wheels of the MOTI bureaucracy seem to be stuck in the 1980s.
Most of the challenges we face in the SCRD are common to other areas across the province. Rather than fight our battles one little jurisdiction at a time, we need to focus on advocacy with senior government to remove the barriers we face to climate action. That's why I am serving on the executive of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities as the Electoral Areas Representative.
Finally, I'll add that citizen science will be one of the keys to success. Streamkeepers are an outstanding example of local residents going out and gathering data to monitor and understand the condition of our creeks and streams. Without data, we can't make evidence-based decisions. And we need a LOT of data to understand our local environment. We've taken our forests and streams and oceans for granted and are only now starting to understand their value and how they function. Indigenous knowledge is another source of information that is only starting to be tapped.
Continue to update and improve OCP’s and LUB’s with better protective options
such as increased setbacks, wider interpretation of Riparian area regulations and
always providing good clear communications about the overall goal of protective
I would encourage private covenants for sensitive lands and support the expansion
of the expansion of the Natural Area Protrection Tax Exemption Program beyond
Island Trust areas.
Strengthen DPA’s along the shoreline to protect from the effects of extreme heat.
Support calls for better provincial oversight to protect biodiversity such as motions
passed at the last UBCM.
Coordinate more closely with NGO’s such as the UNESECO Atl’katsum Biosphere
work regionally with other coastal communities of efficiencies and new ideas.
Develop a closer relationship with First Nations and support their expertise in the
areas of fish habitat enhancement and other areas of biodiversity protection.