Water Management 

The Joint Watershed Management Agreement (JWMP) was recently renewed, a Source Area Response Plan (SARP) is under development, and new documentation shows that the public supports drinking water source area protection more strongly than ever (We Envision One Coast and Vital Signs 2011). Steps are being taken to achieve water conservation (sprinkling regulations, water metering in Gibsons, etc.). During the last 3 years, the Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCPI) has continued to press its case for logging in the Chapman and Gray Creek watersheds, the region's principle source areas of drinking water.

What is your understanding of and position on the Joint Watershed Management Agreement?  As a regional director, how would you respond to the Sunshine Coast Community Forest? Other watersheds also contribute to the public's drinking water supply, how do you propose to achieve or enhance protection of these smaller watersheds?


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Candidates Responding:

Darren Inkster (Candidate for Sechelt Mayor)
Hans Penner (Candidate for Area D Director)
Lorne Lewis (Candidate for Area E Director)
Laura Wallace (Candidate for Area E Director)
Barry Janyk (Candidate for Gibsons, Mayor)
Donna Shugar (Candidate for Area D Director)
Lee Ann Johnson (Candidate for Gibsons Council)
Doug Smith (Candidate for Sechelt Mayor)
Mike Carson (Candidate for Area A Director)
Frank Mauro (Candidate for Area A Director)
John Henderson (Candidate for Sechelt Mayor)
Gary Norh (Candidate for Area B Director)
Roger Legasse (Candidate for Area B Director)

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Darren Inkster
Candidate for Sechelt Mayor


The joint watershed agreement is an agreement between the SCRD electoral areas and municipalities to protect our watersheds. The watersheds are important to our ecosystems and are key water sources for our population and for fire fighting. The DOS is in the unenviable position of holding forestry tenure in our watersheds. One of my priorities has been to exchange this tenure for tenure outside the watershed so as to not ever create a situation where there is potential conflict between use and tenure. As mayor, I have not been in favour of harvesting in Chapman or Grey, but we must all continue to lobby the province to move this tenure as there is an expectation that CF's manage the forest tenure.

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Hans Penner
Candidate for Area D Director


My understanding of the Joint Watershed Management Agreement is that it is an agreement between the SCRD and the Sechelt Indian Band to jointly manage the Chapman and Gray Creek watersheds with “the right and authority to approve or disapprove any activity within the watersheds”. Unfortunately while the SCRD and the SIB claim this authority under the terms of the agreement, the Provincial Government so far has not legally approved the agreement. My position on the agreement is that it should be recognized by the Province.

As a Regional Director I would insist that open and transparent governance of the Community Forest, owned by the District of Sechelt and operating on public land, within the Regional District, is a must, including public participation in the appointment of directors.  Furthermore I suggest that at least one Regional Director and one District of Sechelt Councillor be appointed to the Community Forest Board in order to ensure public accountability.

All our drinking watersheds including the smaller ones have to be protected. No mining or forestry licenses, including that of the Community Forest, should be located in these watersheds. Also there should be no more logging of the remaining old growth forest, in or out of the watersheds. This ancient forest is irreplaceable and forms a key part of a healthy eco-system.

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Lorne Lewis
Candidate for Area E Director


The JWMP is an agreement between the shíshálh nation and the SCRD in which both parties agree to protect the Chapman Creek watershed. I don’t recognize that SCPI has rights in the watershed nor do they represent Elphinstone as a community forest company. As a local government we will do all that we can to oppose any industrial action in the watershed. It is my hope that the public will back us in taking that position. I have been outspoken in the cause of protecting our watersheds. Where industrial action threatens smaller water sources we must ensure the most stringent standards that we can and do all that we can to see that they are adhered to.

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Laura Wallace
Candidate for Area E Director


The JWMA is an agreement made between the five areas of the SCRD and the two municipalities of the Sunshine Coast. This agreement was made to ensure protection of the watersheds found here. These watersheds are vital to the health of our community as well as the health of the physical environment they are within, not to mention the salmon and other life that inhabit those waters. I do not believe that any logging or other industrial action (housing, mining, recreational development) should be taking place anywhere near the watersheds; maintaining the health of our salmon population and the local ecosystem, as well as providing drinking water to the community at large, are much more important values than making money from destroying old growth forest and an extremely precious and already scarce resource: clean water.

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Barry Janyk
Candidate for Gibsons Mayor


First let me thank you for the opportunity once again to address the folks in our community who really care – as I expect you understand I do.  We all care very deeply about our futures in this little ecological sphere that we try and occupy in some sort of harmony.  That said, it’s pretty difficult to celebrate this pristine place without recognizing its fragile nature.

So, let’s talk about water, watersheds and industrial activity for a bit.  After all I have been doing that for over 20 years… For those who don’t know me I was one of a group of stroppy community rabble-rousers who – between 1990 - June 1, 1995, when the Tetrahedron Provincial Park was finally declared.  We worked tirelessly to ensure we had a protected watershed.  The long term result of these efforts was a Joint Watershed Management Agreement.  This truly was a “watershed” agreement in that it has sent forth a message to government - and its agents - and the private sector - that we – both First Nation and local governments – would stand together to preserve, and protect, our most vital and precious asset – our communities’ drinking water supply.

This really has nothing to do with confrontation although in order for the community to attain what it required for its future, “just saying no!” had to be an aspect of those protracted negotiations.  It has less to do with confrontation and more to do with common sense and community will.  While I constantly strive for consensus – and yes I do know what that means… sometimes conflicts with parties occur when their other motivations and objectives run counter to those of the community.  I represent our community in my role as Mayor and it would be obviously unconscionable for me to act opposite the interests of our community in favour of a few. 

On June 19th, 2007 the Gibsons Council resolved, “THAT the Town of Gibsons write a letter to the Sunshine Coast Regional District supporting a moratorium on all logging and road building in the Chapman Creek watershed until such time as a Drinking Water Protection Plan an Assessment Response Plan is completed, and confirming that the Town of Gibsons Council continues to endorse and support the Joint Watershed Management Agreement.”  I had authority to sign the document and Council supports it.

Let me be clear.  My position on the Chapman Creek watershed is – and always has been – simple. I am an advocate for the SCRD - and that includes the Sechelt Indian Band – to attain joint custody of our major watershed.   I believe there is a clear disconnect in our responsibilities and abilities if the legal purveyor of water does not have authority to management its supply.

Rather than comment directly on the SCCF – or other industrial or recreational activities in our watersheds – I say simply that this fundamental must also apply to other community drinking watersheds in the SCRD.  Really folks… what is the priority here?

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Donna Shugar
Candidate for Area D Director


The Joint Watershed Management Agreement (JWMA) is a very important document and I am proud to have been a signatory when it was renewed in 2010. The JWMA is an agreement between the Sechelt Indian Band and the SCRD to share the stewardship of the Chapman and Gray Creek watersheds. The partnership between the SCRD and the SIB makes this a very powerful statement to other orders of government and the public about our intention to bring the protection of this vital water supply under local control. It is one of the tools we are using to lobby the Province to grant local control over the watershed. It is doubly important because the SCRD is the purveyor of water to the majority of Sunshine Coast residents and because the SIB considers this watershed to have immense significance. At the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September, I and other Board members, including the SIB Director Jordan Louie, presented the JWMA to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations reiterating our request that it be recognized by the Province.

Important as it is, simple control over the management of the watershed is not enough. The Source Assessment Response Plan (SARP) is being developed by the SCRD in response to an order by the Drinking Water Officer. The SARP looks at all the risks to our drinking water (not just industrial activity) and recommends what should be done to mitigate those risks. This kind of analysis and planning is essential for whoever has control over or conducts activity of any kind (including recreation) in the watershed. Where there are doubts about our ability to mitigate impacts of human activity, the precautionary principle should prevail. I have been the SCRD Board’s liaison on the SARP Technical Working Group. In that capacity I have insisted on the issue of local control of the watershed and recognition of the JWMA being included in the document. I have also pushed for strong language about creating special standards particular to this watershed. I have supported the inclusion of a recommendation to create a Watershed Protection Officer for this area.\

It is really important to keep lines of communication open with other orders of government and with the other stakeholders in the watershed. The Sechelt Community Forest has chart in the watershed, AJB owns land in the watershed and BC Timber Sales may have interests. Facilitating meaningful dialogue and negotiation is to me the most effective way to get those stakeholders to move to more sustainable ecosystem based analysis and action.

There have been suggestions that the Community Forest be given other chart in exchange for their tenure in the Chapman/Gray. I have serious concerns about that approach. Would the most reasonable exchange be for chart on Mt Elphinstone where the timber values are high and the CF is already active? I would hate to see that happen. The watersheds of Mt Elphinstone are as important to people in Roberts Creek as the Chapman/Gray! Over 300 households in upper Roberts Creek do not have access to regional water from the Chapman/Gray system and depend on their own wells. A healthy forest on the Mt Elphinstone uplands is essential to ensure that these residents continue to enjoy clean drinking water from their private systems. The same principles of ecosystem based analysis and planning should be applied to Mt Elphinstone and other watersheds. I sat on the Elphinstone LRUP for six years trying to get an ecosystem based plan for the mountain. Such a plan would designate where and what kind of activity could take place with the primary objective being the ecological health of the forest. Such a plan would provide the constraints on activity beyond general “best practices” to include much more specific prescriptions. I would support that project being revisited so that we get a strategic approach to activity in the Mt Elphinstone watersheds instead of the random ad hoc approach we have today.

I have been encouraging the SCRD to negotiate a communications protocol between the SCRD and BCTS. This would put us more in the loop regarding their activities and provide some clear lines of communication regarding their forestry plans. I have been invited by the SCCF to advise them about the Terms of Reference for the Coastal Watershed Assessment Procedure for the Wilson Creek Watershed. This important watershed has had a huge amount of disruption, but has never had a proper analysis. I am encouraging the Community Forest to go beyond a simple analysis of hydrology issues and to examine all the impacts of historic and future activity in this watershed from an ecosystem based perspective.

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Lee Ann Johnson
Candidate for Gibsons Council


As an incumbent Councillor in Gibsons, I am pleased with the various successes the Town had with water conservation work. The Town has been a supporter of the Watershed agreement as about a third of the Town depends on SCRD supplied water from Chapman Creek.

Gibsons has reduced per capita water consumption by about 30% through the installation of water meters and efficient leak repairs.  We’ve invested heavily in infrastructure to allow the Town to separate our aquifer water from SCRD sourced water. There is a three year aquifer mapping study underway analyzing the aquifer water quality and quantity.

Any infrastructure we build now needs to last at least 20/30 years and be able to handle future demands. We don’t know precise impacts of climate change on our watershed or the aquifer, but we can anticipate a generally diminishing snowpack, particularly as temperatures continue the upward trend. This makes our reliance on melting snow to provide water for normal summer droughts a potentially increasing problem.  We will be vulnerable to more shortages if summer droughts get longer as the planet warms. The SCRD has been very pro-active with Provincial authorities to gain better protection for this essential resource for people and fish.

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Doug Smith
Candidate for Mayor of Sechelt


The Joint Watershed Management Agreement (JWMA) formally acknowledges that the Chapman/Gray Creek Watersheds fall under the joint stewardship of the Sechelt Indian Band and the Sunshine Coast Regional District.  It clarifies the authority and responsibility of these two groups to improving and maintaining water supplies at the highest possible safety and quality standards.

We are using water, our most precious non-renewable resource for superfluous purposes and superficial beatification uses such as lawns. We need to regulate the way we use potable water in homes and other buildings by supplementing non-potable water needs utilizing rainwater and dishwater. The cost to reconfigure plumbing in new homes to utilize spent potable water for toilets is only $200.00 and the amount of precious non-renewable potable water saved is substantial. We must also assess the future water needs for new proposed developments and plan accordingly.

The Community Forest is an important financial asset to the people on the Coast and must be managed wisely. The watershed needs to be properly protected and not fall second to profits. As Mayor I would ensure all activities affecting citizens are always open and transparent including the operations.

The Community Forest presently operates in a closed protective manner. As the only shareholder the District needs to involve executive from the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association and others in the framework for input and decision-making. It then remains open and transparent. I would not support Logging in any of the watersheds. This is a number one priority for me.

Sechelt is the holder of forest tenure and as such must rethink its mindset and establish higher standards of environmental stewardship than a bare legal minimum. We would be seeking an increase to our forest size to allow us to harvest in a sustainable manner without jeopardizing either our water shed or our economic commodity. If not possible I would seek to reduce annual cuts.

We must raise our requirement for achieving environmental protection not only in the watershed but also throughout the Coast. Industrial interests must never take priority over the broad public interest, in regards to the environment, drinking water and soil and air preservation.

Sustainability is the paramount financial parameter in the operation of the forest.  As a signatory to the JWMA it is clear that all facets, financial or otherwise, are secondary to the responsibility to maintain water supplies at the “highest possible safety and quality standards”. Decisions that could result in standards less than the highest possible will not be considered.

If the SCRD stands behind the commitments it made in the JWMA then accepting lesser standards in any other watershed is untenable.

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Mike Carson
Candidate for Area A Director


The Joint Watershed Management Agreement is an absolute necessity to guaranteeing the viability of the Chapman and Gray Creek watersheds. I would support the other Area Directors, and the Sechelt First Nation in this initiative. I believe there is the political will and a mandate from all water users on the Sunshine Coast to preserve these watersheds from the damage that results from clear-cutting, whether it is the Sunshine Coast Community Forest or other contractors.  As to protecting the smaller watersheds, in Pender Harbour and Egmont, we are blessed with plentiful, accessible water in some of the largest lakes on the Sunshine Coast. Protecting the watersheds that fill these lakes is just common sense, and with more education, industry and public interests can be accommodated.

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Frank Mauro
Candidate for Area A Director


The JWMA is an agreement between the Sechelt Indian Band and the SCRD to share the stewardship of the Chapman and Gray Creek watersheds. I see it as an agreement, justifiably struck, in response to plans by SCPI which appear to put the health of the watershed at risk. I support completing SARP and I am against logging in the watershed. I support placing full control of the watershed in hands of the SCRD.

However, I see the JWMA and SARP as an interim steps which can provide useful information for a comprehensive plan for drinking water management.

What concerns me is that the scenario that led to JWMA and SARP will be played out again and again for other watersheds that supply drinking water for SCRD residents. In Area ‘A’ we have three watersheds that supply water and we have no desire to put them at risk.  It is time to strongly lobby the provincial authorities to develop an overall SCRD Watershed Management Plan. We don’t have to look far for a good example; the GVRD Watershed Management Plan clearly lays out the principles required to ensure continued safe drinking water for the GVRD. If the ultimate goal is clearly stated to the provincial authorities they would be hard pressed to provide a reason why the SCRD shouldn’t have control over the drinking water when other regional districts have been successful in managing their water supply.

We can’t afford to put our precious drinking water at risk. 

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John Henderson
Candidate for Sechelt Mayor


My understanding of the JWMA is that it is a formal agreement between the Sechelt Indian Band and the SCRD to protect our watersheds, specifically Chapman and Gray Creek.

The SCCF has committed to no harvesting in the Chapman Creek watershed for a minimum of the 25 years of its current license.

Individuals from our local community volunteer to sit on the Community Forest Board of Directors.  They drink the same water as we all do.  It is in everyone’s best interest that nothing happens to the quality and protection of our watersheds.

I would like to see the Community Forest as a coast-wide organization rather than being owned solely by the District of Sechelt.  (At the time it was formed, I gather other governments on the Coast were not interested.)  Now that there is more awareness of the Community Forest model, as well as the contribution community forests make to the community, I am supportive of finding ways the SCCF could become more inclusive.

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Gary Nohr
Candidate for Area B Director

I am pleased to have worked to maintain the direction of this protocol, in which the Sechelt Indian Band and SCRD agreed to protect the watershed. I am proud to have been one of the SCRD board members signing the agreement, as I feel strongly about working to make sure everyone on the coast has potable water. A few years ago, I was one of those that called for a stoppage of logging in the watershed under the precautionary principle, which resulted in the Health Board hearings. It is not that I am against logging—in fact the contrary—it is that as a director on the board purveying drinking water for the community, it’s my job to take a position that water is more important that any resource extraction. We lost the case in court, but I feel we made other districts and the provincial government aware of the need for a solution. I feel that the court case prompted the provincial government to review the water act, which led to the health ministry implementing the Chapman Watershed Drinking Water source protection meetings. While we are concentrating on the Chapman watershed, we also do our best to support wells and other drinking watersheds on the Coast. Although the SCRD has met with all the pertinent ministers, and even the premier, to get support for our agreement to manage the watershed, we have not been successful as yet, but we keep going back with new proposals and new avenues to get their attention. The next move is to meet with Premier Christie Clark to get our concerns addressed.

As a director, I have been supportive of the concept of community forests, as they were brought in by the provincial government to help keep logging jobs in the local communities. The name “community forest” is a misnomer, as this was a government idea to keep forestry workers employed in their own community, but I am sure the government expected the companies to run the same way as other logging companies. I have attended advisory group meetings, the local AGM for SCPI, and the provincial AGM to listen to other companies speak on governance and use of funds in their community. Most community forests had the same problem as our local company, as the tenure they were given was in their local watersheds. I did hear many stories of success as well as failures. There were concerns about governance where some companies ran into financial trouble because they did not have a majority of forestry-knowledgeable people on their boards. The local community forest is reaching out to community concerns by helping with trails, asking for input to their plans, and working with people in Roberts Creek to assess the effects of logging in their community. I feel they should run their board meetings with an initial open session to allow public input and then move to in-camera to discuss contracting of local logging companies. I heard at a Community Forest meeting a year ago that SCPI was hiring a part-time economic development consultant and that they were prepared to spend $200,000 on value-added industries, which I was hoping would include the rural areas of the SCRD where they have been logging. I am waiting patiently to hear that this has happened.

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Roger Legasse
Candidate for Area B Director

As an individual citizen and as Area B (Halfmoon Bay) Director, I am and would be 100% in support of honouring the Joint Watershed Management Agreement.  I attended the Sechelt First Nation Longhouse potlatch celebrating the signing of the agreement and I feel the cooperation and mutual respect shown by all parties in achieving this landmark is a model for future joint community initiatives.   Wherever watershed management issues come up, I pledge to give priority to drinking water values and to make sure all sides are heard in order to arrive at a strategic approach.  It is vital that  the local residents be given consultation priority, whether it be concerning the Chapman/Grey Creek watersheds or other smaller potable water sources such as Ramona Creek in Narrows Inlet, which is part of Area B.  Local people know the before, the during and the after and their local knowledge should be solidly incorporated into any decision-making.