Home Agenda Restoration of shellfish harvesting in Coles Bay on agenda at North Saanich-Pauquachin First Nation meeting – Vancouver Island Free Daily

Restoration of shellfish harvesting in Coles Bay on agenda at North Saanich-Pauquachin First Nation meeting – Vancouver Island Free Daily


Efforts to restore shellfish harvesting in North Saanich’s Coles Bay are progressing, beginning with an upcoming meeting between representatives from North Saanich and Pauquachin First Nation.

North Saanich council on Monday, June 20, unanimously asked staff to schedule a partnership meeting with Pauquachin and draft a memorandum of understanding.

The move comes after the local First Nation signaled its desire to resume shellfish harvesting in Coles Bay. In 2020, the Pauquachin First Nation asked the municipality to investigate what it can do to regulate pollution entering the bay, after previously identifying on-site residential septic systems in North Saanich as one highland bacterial sources that led to the closure of shellfish harvesting. more than two decades ago.

In November 2021, the Pauquachin First Nation reiterated this broader request with a more specific criticism of North Saanich.

“Local government decisions related to zoning, development approvals, septic systems and stormwater management have resulted in poor water quality in Coles Bay,” said Christa Croos of the Environmental Law Center of the United States. University of Victoria at the time. “And as you all know, poor water quality makes shellfish inedible. Due to this, Pauquachin’s ability to harvest shells has been greatly reduced. This is a violation of treaty and a violation of fundamental aboriginal rights to fish.

The future meeting would take place at the Pauquachin First Nation over lunch followed by a shore walk along Coles Bay.

North Saanich general manager Tim Tanton said the meeting would not help with this file, but would help with others, as well as building a broader relationship with the First Nation.

Regarding the memorandum of understanding, Ben Martin, director of infrastructure for North Saanich, said the details should be ironed out. He added that this could help information sharing between the two communities.

Martin also addressed the question of the County. Celia Stock, who called for federal involvement, having said earlier that only the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has the authority to open or close shellfish harvesting.

“I just fear that our jurisdiction is limited,” she said.

Martin responded by saying that it would be appropriate to involve DFO in future meetings. However, North Saanich is responsible for stormwater, he added.

A staff report notes that North Saanich’s participation in the Saanich Peninsula Liquid Waste Management (SPLWMP) established in 1996 creates an obligation to sustainably manage wastewater and stormwater in the region.

In this context, the report states that North Saanich is “currently non-compliant” with its commitments to liquid waste management outside of sewer areas.

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Saanich Peninsula