Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Randall Garrison introduced a private member’s bill to change the status of Goldstream River and offer it greater protection federally.
Garrison based the bill on concerns from constituents, who didn’t like the fact the river no longer had federal protection.
“It’s such an iconic river,” Garrison said. “So many people, even from a very young age on the Island, get they’re first up-close contact with the whole lifecycle of salmon at the Goldstream River.”
A fuel truck accident in 2011, which resulted in the spilling of 43,000 litres of fuel into the river, also brought to people’s attention how important and fragile the river is, said Garrison.
The controversial Bill C-38 passed by the federal Conservative party, also known as the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, changed rules surrounding industry development around waterways. Only waterways specifically named in Schedule 2 are federally protected. Others now fall under provincial and municipal guidelines when projects are considered. Should Goldstream be added to Section 2, work that affects it, such as work related to the E&N Railway revitalization, would be subject to a federally mandated environmental assessment.
“Yes, down the way, if you end up having to do environmental assessments, there is a cost,” Garrison said. “There are even bigger costs of not doing the assessments and that might be the loss of the salmon run in the Goldstream River.”
The river is home to a wide variety of species of fish, animals and plant life.
Jean Crowder, the NDP MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan, introduced a similar bill to have the Cowichan River added to Schedule 2.
Garrison doesn’t expect either bill to hold much sway with the Conservative majority in parliament. He expects it will not even make it to the floor for debate.
“We don’t have much hope the Conservatives will actually act on these and do it, but if you don’t make the suggestion it definitely can’t happen,” Garrison said. “What we’re really looking for here is to pressure the government to restore protection for some of these more important rivers.”