Honour Estuary Management Plan

MF recent photoBy Meg Fellowes
Published: Dec 13, 2014



The clear intention of the 1999 Squamish Estuary Management Plan (SEMP) was to allow industrial, commercial, residential uses outside the WMA area, not within the WMA.

The intention of DOS jurisdiction over the training dike which bisects the WMA was to honour existing use by the Wind Sports group, not to permit industrial activities, temporary or not, in the middle of the WMA.  Endorsing industrial activity in the WMA breaks the intention of the 1999 Squamish Estuary Management Plan (1999 SEMP).

A number of years ago there was an application to site a temporary test wind turbine in the WMA to asses wind generation potential.  At the provinces behind the scenes suggestion the application was quietly withdrawn.  The temporary industrial use could have significant potentially catastrophic repercussions for the entire land use plan, for example revisiting the Seventh Avenue connecter.

Estuaries are rare in BC, about five per cent of our mountainous coastline.  Commercial, industrial, residential and recreation uses occupy a little more than 50 per cent of the Squamish estuary, and about 80 per cent of the Fraser estuary.  Building costs on flat land close to tidewater are comparatively inexpensive. 

Estuaries are also critical for five species of Pacific Salmon, and the bears, eagles and other wildlife that depend on abundant wild salmon.  Estuaries are critical refueling stops along the pacific flyway for migratory bird.  Debate around estuary use is heated and ongoing.  Currently Prince Rupert and the oil transfer facilities proposed for the Skeena estuary are in the news.  The Squamish estuary land use negotiations extended over 20 years and included 4 levels of government, property owners, and extensive community participation. 

The outcome was the 1999 SEMP, a consensus agreement which is unusual in our adversarial political jungle.                     

The BC government contributors to the 1999 SEMP include former ministries of: Forestry, Environment and Parks, Lands, and Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture. Currently many, but not all functions have been reorganized into the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Resource Operations.  Add, to the mix local governments, DOS and Squamish Nation, and community interests commercial, industrial and environmental and, well, the 1999 Estuary Management Plan verges on being miraculous.

Yes, the province can overrule any District of Squamish decision. The Province can in fact dissolve or create any Municipal government in BC, period (with the possible exception of Vancouver).  And, yes, times and legislation change; however, great care must be taken in oversetting the 1999 consensus agreement.  Hopefully we can trust this and future councils, along with other signatories to the agreement, to defend the integrity and intention of Skwelwil’em, Squamish Estuary Wildlife Management Area.