EDITORIAL: There’s a push to get the Salish Sea designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Just what effect would the designation have on shipping, fishing, oil tankers, etc.?

It was one of those dozens upon dozens of e-mails we get every day, our fingers hovering over the delete button because we really don’t need to spend time on stories about olives in California or the latest gripe from taxpayers in Scarborough.

Whoa, step away from that delete button. This e-mail suggested a group is trying to create interest in designating the Salish Sea, that body of water we hug and love in Parksville Qualicum Beach, as a World Heritage Site.

There are 1,052 such sites in the world, 18 in Canada, including Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, Dinosaur Provincial Park and the Rideau Canal. World Heritage sites are areas designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with the goal of preserving places of cultural, natural and historic significance.

Sounds good on the surface. The Salish Sea (Puget Sound and both the Georgia and Juan De Fuca straits) is unique, biologically diverse and important culturally and scientifically.

Red flags shot up immediately, however. Would this designation essentially shut the Salish Sea down to business, as in fishing, transportation and yes, oil tankers? These waters have been important business and food-gathering routes since, well, since there were people, and long before white folk. Was this effort some end-around, a clever ploy by environmentalists to stop the expansion of oil-tanker traffic before any new pipeline even reached the coast?

Laurie Gourley is with the Salish Sea Trust and he put some of our fears aside.

“It (the UNESCO designation) does not stop commercial activities,” Gourley said last week. “In fact, we expect a little flak from the anti-tanker interests.”

Attaining World Heritage Site status is a 10-year process. UNESCO’s latest round of applications are due at the end of January, 2017, a short four months away. The Salish Sea Trust aims to get its information to Parks Canada (which must make the formal application to UNESCO) by December. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been encouraging Canadians to come up with applications for World Heritage Sites.

Gourlay said the input of First Nations people is key to the application. He is encouraging all people to get involved and learn more. For more information, e-mail salishseatrust@shaw.ca.

— Editorial by John Harding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

A new daycare at Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre is slated to open in September. (Rendering courtesy of West Shore Parks and Recreation)
Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre brings daycare centre to Colwood

New centre to offer 80 spaces come September

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia’s Float the Boat fundraiser campaign is underway. The goal is to raise $25,000 in donations to help with the cost of running virtual programs and onsite operations. (Courtesy Maritime Museum of B.C.)
Maritime Museum of B.C. looks to Float the Boat in Victoria

Fundraiser proceeds will support multitude of virtual programs and onsite operations

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump in the newly redesigned Organ Donor trail at Mount Work mountain biking park. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Mountain bikers lining up for Hartland’s newest trail

Revamped black diamond run ‘what the community needed’

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

Cash and drugs allegedly found in a suspect’s possession following an arrest earlier this month in downtown Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
Accused drug dealer arrested in Nanaimo carrying $20K, fentanyl, crack and meth

Terrance Virus, 39, being held in custody, scheduled to appear in court Feb. 1

(Pixabay)
B.C. teacher gets 1 day suspension after ‘aggressively’ throwing dumbbell at student

Documents show the weight would have hit the student if they didn’t catch it

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read