Working collaboratively with others to protect the environment for the benefit of our community is at the top of mind for local governments across BC. Recently, members of Sechelt’s Council had the opportunity to join forces with other local governments at the annual meeting of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC).
At the convention, a panel discussion on the topic of derelict boats offered an example from Ladysmith where the 33-metre Viki Lyne II was abandoned in 2012. Left in the Ladysmith Harbour directly beside a new marine park and marina, the Viki Lyne II held 13,000 litres of oil and solvents. The successful removal of the ship in 2016 showed that collaborative work between local government, indigenous governments, the province, and federal government agencies was possible and provided positive results. Participants also learned about the national Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund and how it was used to assist Ladysmith’s efforts to keep their harbour clean and safe.
Another session of note from the AVICC meeting covered recent developments in the province’s Marine Oil Spill Response plan. Unfortunately, the update from industry and senior government staff did not leave the local government participants with confidence that response plans would be adequate given the risks. Councillors attending this session were dismayed to learn that an organization in the forefront of developing standards and best practices is funded primarily by the province of Alberta and large oil corporations. There is much more work to do before we will have the ‘world class’ response to marine spills that we deserve.
Here in Sechelt we’re beginning to plan for World Oceans Day (June 8). Sechelt is working with the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association to find ways to establish an annual community event that will engage our community and raise awareness about our oceans and our coastline. This year may be a modest marking of the event, but we would like to see this grow to be a Coast-wide recognition of the waters surrounding us. The success of Earth Day in Roberts Creek is the inspiration – although, as Sechelt is decidedly different from ‘the Creek’, no one should expect creative community mandalas or the romance of the higgledy-piggledy parade. What we do share, with all Coasters, is a respect and love for the environment that makes the Sunshine Coast what it is, and a desire to understand that environment and protect it.
The importance of protecting our natural coastline and waters that surround our community cannot be overstated. The waters know no political boundaries, so it is imperative that all levels of government work together, and with their respective communities, to protect our oceans – in the present – and for future generations.