Species at Risk

The Province's Species At Risk Task Force has published its findings and recommendations on the urgent issue of biodiversity loss on local government and privately owned lands. The SCRD has shown leadership on old growth retention and protection of species at risk in the past.

What can you, as a local elected representative, do to further biodiversity protection for species at risk on local government and privately owned land in our region?

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Candidates Responding:
Hans Penner (Candidate for Area D Director)
Lorne Lewis (Candidate for Area E Director)
Darren Inkster (Candidate for Sechelt Mayor)
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 Nohr (Candidate for Area B Director)
Roger Legasse (Candidate for Area B Director)

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Hans Penner
Candidate for Area D Director

The local government, SCRD in this case, should set an example of protecting biologically sensitive sites wherever they exist in local parks or other public land. On private land local government can encourage protection of wetlands and forested sensitive areas by encouraging registered protective covenants. This may be possible to achieve in exchange for property tax reduction.

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Lorne Lewis
Candidate for Area E Director


Education is again the key to engaging the public in taking protective action to benefit any species. In many cases the public is not aware of any harm being done. They may not be aware that certain species are endangered or that certain activities might endanger them. My personal focus on endangerment to biodiversity is making people aware of invasive species and trying to convince them to remove those species from their property.

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Darren Inkster
Candidate for Mayor of Sechelt


Regional and local govts. have a duty and obligation to be informed about local species at risk issues and there is an additional obligation to inform the public as to what ecosystems or areas are suffering from species depletion. Mitigation is another important function of local and regional govts.

Species substitution is needed in particular areas on the sunshine coast in order to replace invasive plant species with native plants that are much less invasive.

Public lands can have very clear rules of use and engagement as prescribed by the local govt. as part of its mandate to protect ecosystems on behalf of the public. Private lands will not be subject to the same controls, but protections should be required at subdivision, change of use, or density change request stages if changes are allowed and negotiated.  Local government has an obligation to communicate and apply clear environmental rules, as well as a duty to protect our water sources and our biodiversity.

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Laura Wallace
Candidate for Area E Director


Protecting species at risk is something that is everyone's responsibility. An SCRD-backed program promoting eco-tourism is a sustainable and economically viable option for both private landowners and the communities of the Sunshine Coast. Promoting and protecting estuaries, old-growth forests, salmon spawning habitats, do not have to be mutually exclusive. Landowners would be less inclined to develop their land and further endanger these species if they were able to financially benefit from having those species thriving in their natural habitats. As for public land, it should be protected as well, from development and industry. As Director, I would work to ensure that our natural resources and at risk species be protected, again, we should not sacrifice biodiversity at the expense of economic development.

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Barry Janyk
Candidate for Gibsons Mayor

The SCRD must continue to advocate in the vacuum of provincial and federal resources.  While it is appropriate to have strong principles and guiding legislation from the federal government concerning species that are threatened, at risk, or endangered – whatever colour the listing – if the legislation comes with no enforcement it can be construed as pointless posturing.  At the provincial level – with the evaporation of regulatory bodies and gutting of staff resources – all under the supposed aegis of “compliance based regulation” - I think any intelligent and caring individual is likely quite concerned for the future.  Fortunately I do have good provincial contacts and the respect of the bureaucracy over the 12 years I have worked with these folks.  Frankly I do think agency staff – for the most part – do their utmost to assist in their important roles.  It’s the system that’s at fault.

Frankly the role the SCRD planning staff often fulfils is blatant downloading – cast upon the shoulders of elected reps.  We can be under equipped and ill prepared and we sometimes are forced to react to the siren sounded by citizen guardians.  What I have witnessed in the last 20 years is a systematic collapse of the fiduciary responsibilities of the federal and provincial governments with regards to monitoring and enforcement with the implementation of performance based standards and random “checks”. 

In my capacity of director at the SCRD you can have faith in my integrity to my principles of upholding the utmost respect for the environment and all that that entails.  I will never permit threats to species or environment compromise my decisions. As a director of the Sunshine Coast Natural History Society for almost 3 decades I believe your trust is warranted.

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Donna Shugar
Candidate for Area D Director

There is a lot we can do both on our own lands and on private lands to protect biodiversity.

On our own lands we can create greenways and protected areas within our parks. For example, the SCRD is working on a third party protective covenant for Cliff Gilker Park in Roberts Creek to enshrine the wild areas of the park and protect them from development. We should be strategic in our parks acquisition so that important ecosystems and sensitive areas are protected through park dedication.

The SCRD has a no pesticide policy within its parks. This should be continued. Control of invasive plant species is a new area of interest. The SCRD has recently become a member of the Coastal Invasive Plant Committee and will be actively seeking the best ways to prevent and control the spread of invasives in SCRD parks without resorting to chemical applications.

The SCRD can work with community groups to protect and enhance or restore certain sensitive habitats within its parks. For example, turtle nesting sites in some SCRD parks in Pender Harbour are given special protective treatment during nesting season.

The protection of biodiversity on private land requires a different set of actions. Regional Districts do not have the power to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides. However, the Provincial government is looking at Province wide legislation to ban or curtail this use on private land. I have been an advocate in favour of such legislation and have taken opportunities such as at UBCM to make these views known to Provincial authorities. I have advocated for the SCRD to respond in favour as well.
Invasive plants are just as much of a concern on private land. I support the SCRD taking an active role in educating the public and garden business owners about the dangers of invasive plants and how best to control or eradicate them.

Regional Districts also have a suite of land use planning tools that can be used to assist with biodiversity protection. Sensitive ecosystem mapping and habitat mapping are important first steps. I assisted a local group with grant funds for eel grass mapping in Roberts Creek so that now we know where those important sites are located.

Official Community Plans should include provision for open space conservation development where development is clustered on a property to create more green space protection. OCPs can also include Development Permit Areas to protect sensitive ecosystems and habitats. The Draft of the new Roberts Creek OCP contains provision for density bonusing in exchange for biodiversity protection. Roberts Creek also has a Shoreline Bylaw which designates the entire shoreline of Roberts Creek as a development permit area with special regulations designed to protect the sensitive shoreline ecosystem.

Wise land use patterns can ensure habitat connectivity, protection of wetlands and of shorelines.

Sustainability checklists can be offered to property owners to help guide development to prevent unnecessary damage to species at risk habitats. Best management practices in sensitive areas can also be an important educational tool.

The Islands Trust offers a Natural Areas Tax Exemption Program that reduces property taxes for landowners who have a signed conservation covenant to protect natural areas on their property. At my suggestion, the SCRD recently proposed a resolution at UBCM to ask the Province to extend this provision to other areas outside of the Islands Trust.
Public education is another role that local governments can play by working with and supporting local stewardship groups such as Stream Keepers. 

Habitat and biodiversity protection is yet another area where local Sunshine Coast Governments can collaborate on regional planning, ecosystem mapping, harmonization of bylaws and incentives, assistance to stewardship groups, and public education.

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Lee Ann Johnson
Candidate for Gibsons Council


The problems in Gibsons are not so great around specific species but there are rare eco-systems under severe threat.  An eco-system is an interdependent family of conditions which include soils, climate, drainage as well as plant and animal families. These eco-systems became endangered because they are desirable places to build due to waterfront or view amenities. The Town has the power to prevent development. I strongly support stopping any further building in endangered eco-systems or in other natural areas that provide important services such as holding ground water, bio-filtering run-off water and preventing erosion.

Gibsons and Sechelt, as municipalities, have control over roads, drainage and subdivision, and the ability to limit development on private lands for environmental reasons. As settled areas for many years, we need to re-invest using new infrastructure techniques to mitigate or restore some of the services provided by nature, services that we have previously failed to recognize or assumed were “free”. The clear cutting and redevelopment of properties is adding to drainage issues on our slopes and erosion in stream beds.  We need to put smarter approaches in place as the increased intensity, duration and frequency of rainfall is expected to continue as one of the effects of our warming climate. We certainly could benefit from stronger Provincial protection in rural areas.

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Doug Smith
Candidate for Sechelt Mayor

This area would also fall within the purview of the individual championing environmental programs. We need to determine where the greatest species at risk presently reside on the Coast and what program proposals on the planning board could positively impact species at risk and our ecosystem.

Receiving current information from the Conservation Data Centre and adding new data from the SCCA and other concerned citizens will move the process along. An educational program is also needed to make people aware of the species at risk on the Coast. I do not know if we have municipal regulatory controls in place but if not that would also help us with the cause.

The imperatives regarding Species at Risk at a local level revolve around habitat protection.  By maintaining a healthy dialogue with the senior levels of government we can remain current.  We also need to ensure that local initiatives consider critical habitat protection as a priority. Local government can lead in part by listening.  If we listen and then make thoughtful consultative decisions we will enjoy our environment rather than placing it in peril.

I want to thank you for providing me the opportunity to learn more about ecosystems and what has transpired in British Columbia and in particular the Sunshine Coast in regards to the Joint Watershed Agreement, Sustainability and species at risk. I am an old tree hugger at heart.

I am also a results oriented leader. A quote from Einstein that runs through my head as I ponder the future – “If we keep applying the same rules to the same problems and expect different results we are defining Insanity.” We desperately need to rethink our lifestyles and where they are leading us.

If we continue to produce and consume at our present rate we may need 13 earths to keep us in minerals, soil, potable water and breathable air by the year 2050. We need a mind shift and quickly as it will take time to turn the world around. We owe it to our children and grandchildren and all other species that are not able to make those needed steps to transform our wasteful lifestyles.

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Mike Carson
Candidate for Area A Director

The Province’s Species At Risk Task force report shows that protection of species at risk and biodiversity are now everyone’s job. Local Government must get the information to the people and educate industry and public as to the priorities of managing both species at risk and invasive plant species. Partnering with, and nurturing the many non-profits on the coast such as the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden Society, Ruby Lake Lagoon Society, and the Iris Griffith Interpretive Center and Nature Reserve, will further biodiversity protection goals.

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Frank Mauro
Candidate for Area A Director

As an elected representative, protecting the future viability of species at risk lies in ensuring Official Community Plans reflect the sensitive ecosystems inventories they cover and appropriate protection is defined and enforced. Remediation must be encouraged. A good example is the protection of turtle nesting sites in some Area ‘A’ SCRD parks.

It is also imperative that we inform the public.  We have a very outdoor-oriented,  environmentally conscious and volunteer-driven community that will actively provide stewardship once they know what is required and allowed.

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John Henderson
Candidate for Sechelt Mayor


Protection of habitat is the main goal in maintaining biodiversity.  This is a serious challenge given the fact that the coast’s population is increasing which means more development in terms of housing and services.

Many people do not know which species are at risk and ways of increasing awareness in schools and the public sphere are essential. 

What is needed is an open dialogue on the benefits of protecting species at risk.  While this is likely to be challenging given the divergent views and opinions on this issue, we need to foster a spirit of openness, honesty and curiosity about the options for addressing the impact of SAR. 

It is not a simple task – particularly, with private landowners.  In some cases, the impact on such people may well be disproportionate to their perception of value to the community, compared to the personal loss, to them.  In such cases, it will require the community-at-large to accept some of the burden for the costs associated with protecting the species at risk.

Overall, I would want to ensure that, to the extent possible, the various protected areas are sufficient or expanded to provide added protection to species at risk.

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Gary Nohr
Candidate for Area B Director

When planning for any resource or large residential development, we need to be conscious of an eco-based approach. One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with bio-diversity is to encourage public trust in the effectiveness of conservation initiatives undertaken by companies and the federal and provincial governments to protect ecosystems and species at risk. You only have to look at pictures of the Chapman Watershed in the 90s and the recent Tyson Creek IPP silt problem to understand why this trust is not easy. One of my constituents that lives in Narrows Inlet constantly informs me of the loss of wildlife in that area, and now he fears the loss of his water source because of further expansion of the resource industry. He makes me aware of the need for carefully planned collective action or we could be soon be in difficulty in SCRD crown land. The SCRD cannot do this alone—we need to bring the whole Coast into the plan. One example of this is the “We envision the Whole Coast” initiative.

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Roger Legasse
Candidate for Area B Director

As the elected representative of Area B (Halfmoon Bay/Sechelt Inlets) I pledge to continue efforts to protect species at risk, as well as old growth on local government and privately owned land.

Local Halfmoon Bay residents recently alerted me to potentially disastrous road construction which was taking place without warning near Redrooffs and Francis along the Redrooffs Escarpment area.  After locals expressed concerns about slope stability and public access, the project was halted.  This area is very slide prone and the ancient trees along the public access trail are crucial to stability.  Although this area is covered by special development permit requirements, the public access road came under Highways which is not subject to SCRD Area B Redrooffs Escarpment restrictions.  If elected I will work with Highways to ensure that concerns about slope stability along the Escarpment are taken into consideration in any future work.

Since Denise and I arrived on the coast with our family in 1987, we joined teams of volunteers who succeeded in creating Tetrahedron Provincial Park which helped to protect the Chapman/Grey Creek watersheds.  These teams also located the first active marbled murrrelet nest in Canada on the Caren Range atop the Sechelt Peninsula.  This discovery led to the creation of Spipiyus Provincial Park thanks also to the participation of the late Gilbert Joe, a Sechelt Elder and storyteller who was an active member of the Friends of Caren and who coordinated the naming of the park by the Sechelt First Nations Elders language group.

The Federal government has identified a demand for the creation of a new large-scale national park in the lower mainland area and a local group has formed to promote a sea-to-sky Spipiyus National Park which would include the current provincial park and encompass about 3000 square kilometers in total, making it a world scale park.  Here is an excerpt from the proposed park description :

The proposed National Park is triangular in shape with a south boundary of sixty kilometers extending from the Sechelt Peninsula to Squamish and its northernmost point extending one hundred kilometers across ice-fields, coastal valleys and salt water inlets to include the gem of all British Columbia attractions, Princess Louisa Inlet. The proposed park is some 3,000 square kilometers in size, compared with Banff which has 6,641 km2 and Jasper with 11,228 km2. Included are patches of old-growth forest, the habitat of the threatened marbled murrelet, most of it of little interest to the forest companies because of its inaccessibility. The proposed park includes some of Canada’s only fiords or inlets and inland waterways, notably Jervis, Narrows and Salmon Inlets.  (For more details and a map go to Harbour Spiel, August 2011; www.harbourspiel.com

NB:  The map needs to be adjusted to include the head of Jervis Inlet following suggestions from Elders who felt that cultural sites there should also be protected.)

Any final proposal would require the approval of the Chiefs and Councils of the Squamish and Sechelt First Nations in whose territory the park is to be located.   The park plan would be in conformity with the Sechelt First Nation’s and the Squamish First Nations land use plans which would take priority at all times, consistent with the park’s themes of wilderness, species protection and Salish First Nations culture.

This park would create numerous clean, high quality, good paying and meaningful jobs for locals and provide additional impetus for protecting species at risk and old growth.

The Director for Area B (Halfmoon Bay / Sechelt Inlets) can play an important role in facilitating these initiatives.   Please vote at Coopers Green from 8AM to 8PM on Nov 19th.  (Advance poll at Field Road office Nov. 16th )