Call For Heritage River Designation, and Foundation for Vancouver Island

Press Release

March 21, 2016

CEDAR – “Our Island rivers are rich in heritage, and vital to our future,” states the letter to AVICC from a Vancouver Island conservation society.

“It’s World Water Day on March 22nd, and it’s been 15 years since a Heritage River was designated in the province of British Columbia. We’re asking the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities to consider the heritage, cultural, economic and natural values that Islanders enjoy …and to establish a new Island initiative to recognize and protect Vancouver Island rivers.”

“We received a polite refusal from BC’s Environment Minister Mary Polak last fall,” notes VICCS president Laurie Gourlay, “on the 20th anniversary of the BC Heritage Rivers System, suggesting there were no plans to revisit or nominate additional BC Heritage Rivers.”

“We see no reason why the old BC and Canadian Heritage River terms and mandate cannot be adapted to meet Vancouver Island’s present needs, and the public interest in our rivers and watersheds,” states Gourlay.

The letter raises attention to the hotter and drier summers the Island is experiencing as a result of climate change, suggesting that appreciation of the Island’s streams and rivers has soared as the benefits and importance to the environment as well as our cities, towns and communities becomes increasingly clear.

“Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017 again reminds us of the early explorer’s travel by canoe and ship which led to the development of our country,” Gourlay writes. “And our coastal First Nations look back 5500 years and more upon salmon-rich rivers that provided transportation, spiritual rewards and sustainable livelihoods.”

VICCS is requesting that the BC Heritage Rivers process be the basis for ‘Vancouver Island Heritage River’ nominations, and that funds be invested to establish a Vancouver Island Rivers Foundation.

VICCS letter is addressed to AVICC as they represent local Island governments, and are affiliated with the BC Union of Municipalities. VICCS is requesting that AVICC receive their request as a late addition for consideration at their upcoming AGM in Nanaimo, and has been copied to Premier Christy Clark, Opposition Leader John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, asking for all-Party support in the Legislature.

VICCS ends their request by offering to help establish a Vancouver Island Rivers Foundation, suggesting that “the Nanaimo River is an excellent candidate for consideration under a Vancouver Island Heritage Rivers process …and we’d be pleased to tour AVICC delegates along one of the Island’s great rivers when they’re here in April.”

– 30

For more information:
Laurie Gourlay
President, VICCS