Trailmix/Steeves: Speak up because we CAN make a difference

News this week about the province's decision to take part of Rose Valley Regional Park off the negotiating table shows we can affect change.

It was more than 35 years ago that I first met Otto Langer, a federal fisheries officer at that time, who answered—cautiously—probing questions about the environmental degradation of a local river from a novice reporter at a suburban daily newspaper.

As he read the stories I wrote and answered the questions I asked, he became more open in explaining to me the subtleties of the legislation, its good points and its flaws; and why it somehow couldn’t be used successfully to pin errant companies to the wall.

This naive reporter had difficulty understanding why evidence that seemed as clear as the Coquitlam River was above the gravel companies’ operations, was yet inadequate to result in charges, and later, in convictions.

As a biologist, Otto took the time to explain in technical detail how the settling ponds full of fine silt could suffocate both fish eggs laid in the river’s gravel, and the fish themselves as it clogged their gills when the ponds overflowed or leaked into the river they were adjacent.

It was an education for me, and probably laid the foundation for a life’s work writing about  such issues.

Today, he’s been retired for many years, but he hasn’t lost his passion for the natural world or his concern when it is threatened.

Instead of sitting back, resting on the many laurels he’s gathered since his retirement for his efforts to address the wrongs he sees around him, he’s still speaking out to try and prevent more degradation to aquatic habitat in B.C.

So,  in a way, it wasn’t surprising to hear from him this week, warning about a leak he’d received regarding changes being proposed to the federal Fisheries Act, that would essentially gut it; would remove protection for fish habitat plus amend the act so it only applies to ‘fish of economic, cultural or ecological significance,’ whatever that could be interpreted to mean—instead of all fish.

I mourn for my grandchildren and for the future of this country if we decide to undermine protective, but not arduous legislation in order to expedite the rape of our natural resources by industrial interests. 

If this concerns you, don’t sit back and let it happen. Protest this proposal by writing to your MP and fisheries minister Keith Ashfield to tell them you care about all aquatic habitat and species that survive in those environments. Have organizations you belong to put this on their agenda too, and send letters with their concerns, or your grandkids won’t have any wild aquatic environments left to enjoy.

Such a grassroots outpouring of concern and support for the environment can have a positive impact.

We learned this week that the parcel of Rose Valley Regional Park the provincial government had proposed trading to the Westbank First Nation for a piece of their land being used for the Westside Road Interchange, now is off the table and other parcels of Crown-owned land will be considered instead.

That decision, by Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson, also applies to the section of Crown land which abuts Rose Valley Reservoir, which was to also have been part of the trade.

Thanks to everyone who wrote and lobbied to have that proposal given a second look, and to Steve for carefully weighing all the facts and making a sensible decision.

It shows that what we say can sometimes make a difference.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.


Just Posted

Missed a week of news? We’ve got you covered

Every Saturday, we post popular stories from the week

Long-time Hedley fan weighs in on concert

Davis Wiggs attended Hedley’s final show last night

Kelowna couple hoping for a miracle

Endang Suslash is hoping to stay in Canada so she continue receiving treatment for kidney failure

Highway potholes under ministry jurisdiction

The District of Lake Country doesn’t touch the highway when it comes to filling potholes

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in Kelowna before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Prospera Place

Bottle drive held for Kelowna fire victim’s family

Springfield Elementary held a bottle drive today to support the Van Gool family

B.C. umpire has developed thick skin after 30 years listening to insults

Scott McLaren pays no mind to comments from the cheap seats

Musicians Sarah Harmer, Grimes join B.C. anti-pipeline protests

Musicians are in Vancouver for the Juno Awards on Sunday night

Canadian cities hold March for our Lives events in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of people support the massive March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

Health officials called after acid spill near B.C.-Alberta border leaks into creek

Tanker truck crashed south of Dawson Creek, spilling 17,000 litres of hydrochloric acid

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Snowfall warning for Highway 3

Kelowna - A snowfall warning is in effect from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read