Mission Creek in Kelowna. - Image: Shutterstock.com

Letter: Not entirely correct on Mission Creek

We stand by our statements about our concern for the Mission Creek ecosystem

To the editor:

After discussions with a city official and further investigation it would appear we were mistaken as to the extent of Phase 1 (of Kelowna’s water plan), as it apparently does not include the proposed construction of a treatment plant on Mission Creek or the extension of existing reservoirs and wells, or the creation of new ones along its length to begin use for drinking water.

But it is part of the overall plan as stated in the city’s own summary. It will also not cost $43 million to construct this infrastructure, as we stated, but if and when it does go ahead it will cost millions to build.

Also, in stating that the majority of Kelowna gets their water from Okanagan Lake, we were only partially correct as it is actually only slightly over 50 per cent with five other sources that includes a host of local creeks. To say it was the majority of Kelowna was a stretch, but a lot of us have no problem with the water we currently receive from our taps and showers heads.

We stand by our statements about our concern for the Mission Creek ecosystem, the ability for it to sustain our Kokanee salmon and the threat that any addition to the amount of water we take out of Mission Creek poses to local fish and wildlife. A blanket assurance from public officials is simply not enough and cannot replace actual research on the potential impacts, which at this point are still not available as none has been done at this point.

If the city is determined to use Mission Creek for our drinking water, either most of the time, or some of the time, in conjunction with lake water or a mixture of the two at any one time, we would suggest that we must only do so if the research can definitively show there would be no negative impacts on fish and wildlife. and that we look at balancing our usage in a way that gives more vital flow back to the creek in the late summer and fall months during the fish spawn.

We would also suggest that if we are to spend millions on infrastructure on or nearby Mission Creek, that money is also allocated to continued restoration and protection of the Mission Creek ecosystem, the local salmon run and the Okanagan Lake fishery, and to further improve the Greenway.

Consultation with First Nations and local groups that have worked hard on Mission Creek restoration efforts and the preservation and repatriation of local salmon runs, is also a must.

We are opposed to the use of Mission Creek as a drinking water source for Kelowna and question it’s logic considering a viable alternative is available via renegotiating the integration of all the city’s individual water districts and using Okanagan Lake exclusively as our drinking water source. And we will continue to oppose it until study and research has been completed to allay the fears we have for the survival of the iconic Kokanee run and the health and vitality of the Greenway as a whole.

We need more than just assurances from City officials and we suggest that the protection and restoration of Mission Creek be written into the budget for the Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan and money allocated to that end.

Do we want our City to be known for the destruction of a local Salmon run due to the over utilization of a local water supply from a fragile river source?

Or do we want our City to be a shining example of what a City and a community can do to restore and protect local salmon runs and an urban fishery by responsibly utilizing our local natural resources?

I know which I would prefer.

Mat Hanson, Okanagan Fisheries Foundation