While at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention in Victoria in September, Mayor Don McCormick has a couple of meetings specific to watershed issues.
McCormick wanted to speak to Minister of Forests Steve Thomson, as well as officials from Interior Health, as issues in Kimberley’s watersheds cut across both.
“The City has, for a number of years, held the position of no activity in the watersheds because any activity puts the quality of water at risk because we don’t have a filtration plant. But the tact is we have activity in the watersheds. Logging is a fact of life and recreational activity is impossible to police.”
McCormick says that the Mark Creek Integrated Watershed committee has tried to manage logging for years, at least where it is occurring.
“Only about ten per cent of the watershed is logged, but it’s where it’s happening. If it’s near intakes or riparian areas it’s higher risk. We negotiate with Forestry over where logging can take place. It’s been working reasonably well, but there have been issues about where the cut blocks are.”
McCormick said he took a couple of suggestions to the meeting with Minister Thomson, one of them being that there can’t be friction with BC Timber Sales.
“We have to have agreement on what’s in the best interests for both,” he said. “There will be follow up from the Ministry on this. We also suggested the logging folks should pay for the water monitoring, which costs us abut $40,000. It doesn’t make sense we should have to pay. The Minister agreed that wasn’t an unreasonable request and he promised to follow up.”
Another suggestion, which McCormick admits may be difficult to get any traction on, is that those making money on the logging, such as BC Timber Sales, should be building a reserve to help pay for the cost of a filtration plant.
“It is the province that is the primary benefactor of revenue from logging. I won’t hold me breath on that one.”
While recreation isn’t near the issue that logging is, McCormick says he would like to get to a place that those recreating in the watershed become true stewards.
“We have examples of that, such as the Trails Society, but without the City facilitating, it’s not happening enough.”
What it all comes down to is to take what has worked in the past and modify it to deal with today’s realities.
“It’s all so we won’t need a filtration plant,” McCormick said. “That would be hugely expensive.”