Photo by Lorraine Noble
Estuaries are rare comprising only 2.3% of British Columbia's coastline
West Coast Environmental Law Grant
HUGE THANKS to West Coast Environmental Law for awarding the Save French Creek Estuary Land campaign an Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund grant. This fund helps "British Columbians protect the places and people they love from environmental harm." The grant is to obtain expert legal advice and investigate legal strategies to protect French Creek Estuary lands from development.
We're very fortunate to have hired Mr Sean Hern, Partner at Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP. Mr Hern acted as counsel for the Shawnigan Lake Residents Association in their victory to halt the dumping of contaminated soil.
We're excited about how this may help protect French Creek Estuary Land from harm.
Visit West Coast Environmental Law's website to find out about how they work to
safeguard our environment.
Protect French Creek Estuary Land
Development would harm French Creek Estuary, devastate the 2nd growth Coastal Douglas fir forest, and negatively impact sensitive riparian, pond, wetlands, and marsh areas. Habitat for an abundance of wildlife would be lost.
Residents and visitors treasure the land as a special place to connect with nature and wildlife; to enjoy walking, biking and spending time with family and friends. People need natural spaces to enhance their health and sense of well being.
A Community Park borders two sides of the 23 acres of land and a public right of way trail along the estuary lies within it. The 2008 Official Community Plan outlines policy regarding expansion of this park. It is clear this has been desired by residents for over 10 years and public consultation needs to be considered.
First Nation archeological sites are identified within and bordering the 23 acres.
What's At Risk
French Creek Estuary Land is recognized as a priority for conservation
This unique transect connects 2nd growth Coastal Douglas fir forest, estuary, river and the Salish Sea, providing habitat for an extraordinary diversity of wildlife and plants.
Among its wildlife are raptors such as eagles, hawks and owls, as well as deer, otter, beaver, turtles and a multitude of resident and migrating birds. Two of Vancouver Island's three
large carnivores, black bear and cougar, are known to occur here.
Some species are listed as At Risk or Vulnerable
Species At Risk
Coastal Douglas Fir Forest
Is ranked globally and provincially as a high priority for protection due to its ecological importance. As an essential part of our unique biodiversity; protecting this forest will help maintain habitat for numerous plant and animal species.
It is the last remaining Coastal Douglas fir forest in the area. The mature forest is dynamic in protecting the estuary and fish habitat from runoff, erosion, flooding and sedimentation. It provides shelter for wildlife, gives oxygen, and stores water and carbon.
This forest is a storehouse of large Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock trees, many ranging from over 70 cm to 155 cm in diameter. These large 2nd growth trees are becoming increasingly rare on east Vancouver Island.
Estuary and Stream
Estuaries are rare, comprising only 2.3% of BC's coast. They are "nature's nurseries" and one of the most productive ecosystems in the world supporting wildlife with food, breeding grounds and migration.
Wild salmon are a keystone species in the Pacific Northwest providing food for many predators including Orca, dolphins, sea lions, seals, otters, bears, birds and more. After spawning they are "recycled" to provide nutrients to more wildlife and our forests.
French Creek and its estuary are home to a vital salmon run with 100,000 Chum and 35,000 Coho fry released in 2018 by the Marion Baker Fish Hatchery. Cutthroat trout and steelhead, both considered "severely depressed", are found in this stream.
The Fish Protection Act categorizes French Creek as a "sensitive stream" for its potential to recover high fish productivity, for being in a watershed containing a significant population of salmon, and for the stream's ability to return to historical numbers of fish.
French Creek estuary is one of the most important migratory bird areas in Canada. In spring a phenomenal herring spawn occurs attracting
thousands of birds plus salmon, seals, sea lions, whales and other species. Their existence depends on the health of the estuary and herring run.
Click images for larger display on map page
French Creek water region (WR3) is the smallest of the six watershed regions, receives less recharge and has a high number of ground water users resulting in increased acquifer stress. There is an urgent need to better manage groundwater extraction in this region.
The Ministry of Environment (MOE) states that standard practice has been to complete a well capacity rating for a 100 day period to assess if sufficient supply exists for a proposed development. This practice is inadequate for considering the long term effects of ground water extraction.
They further identify that the situation in WR3 is a good example of how short term predictive assessment is inadequate for planning community water supply that extends over a lifetime (100 years or more).
Epcor Utilities Inc. used standard practice in its determination that sufficient water supply is available for this proposed development. However it is clear from the MOE it is based on a misleading 100 day period of supply.
In addition, MOE warns that with the relatively high population in this area and with further development and the effects of climate change,
Many residents of French Creek express escalating concerns over the increasingly dangerous traffic situation at the intersection of Hwy 19A, Columbia Drive and Sunrise Drive.
With only one access road from Columbia Drive serving 295 households, it involves long waits to make a left turn onto Hwy 19A. Pedestrians and cyclists have no safe way to cross the road or access the bus stop.
In the event of emergency or evacuation situations, exiting onto Hwy 19A would be extremely difficult.
Permitting further development in this area will add additional vehicles amplifying existing traffic problems potentially increasing the risk of serious traffic accidents.