Going local to protect, restore and enhance our watersheds

Nov 18, 2018 | Blog, Governance | 1 comment

There was a time not so long ago that the creeks and streams of the Capital Region boiled with salmon returning to spawn. These watersheds are critical to the health and wellbeing of our communities.

But, neighbourhoods in every community, have been built on top of the watersheds, choking them out.

Protect. Restore. Enhance.

So, a good place to start a provincial wild salmon policy is protecting the remaining functioning habitats. Couple that with restoring proper function to the altered ecosystems, and, follow it up with salmon stock enhancement. These are the concrete steps we need to take locally and provincially to return to the glory days that the old-timers remind us about.

For the past 18 months, my focus has been on policy areas that the province has the power to change.

Provincial decision makers must focus on what we have control over. Environmental, agricultural, forestry and mining policy, infrastructure (roads, dams and culverts), neighbourhood development and rainwater management are just a few of a comprehensive list of decision points that we are responsible for. When the policy falls short in these areas, we can only blame ourselves.


Volunteers at the Howard English Hatchery, in the Goldstream system, are passionate about enhancing the output of local salmon stocks. They raise coho, chinook and chum salmon. This year the group was bouncing with excitement! They were more successful in one day this year, than the whole of last season.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans had yet to open the chum fishery in Satellite Channel and the Saanich Inlet, so there were thousands of fish in the river. It was like the days I visited with my kindergarten class from Little Raven in the early 1980’s. But, despite lower returns each year, we are still fishing like those good ol’ days.

Conservation is the most difficult part of the discussion. Passionate people are fragmented by competing interests and the debate about who gets the last fish. It is long past time for conservation to be the first part of the discussion. That is where the province needs a powerful voice with the federal government.

Creek by creek. Stream by stream. River by river.

The Peninsula Streams Society (PSS) hosted a fall social to celebrate their work from this year. They have led an impressive list of protecting, restoring, enhancing and educating work in local creeks, streams, parks, beaches, and classrooms. This work is literally improving the quality of life in our neighbourhoods.

This year PSS decided to step it up from their annual fundraising dinner and auction to a Gala this coming February 2019. Do you want to know more? Check out their website for up-to-date information – http://peninsulastreams.ca/

The Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association has been enhancing local streams and playing a critical role in educating local youth about salmon through the “Salmon in the Classroom” program.

You can also support the important work of the volunteers at the Howard English Hatchery. Have you ever been to a hatchery? Check out their website for the ways you can be involved. https://www.gvsea.com/

The strength of the provincial government is the ability to align all the other factors that the DFO is not directly responsible for. It is the province who protects critical habitats. It is in the provincial interest to restore ecosystem health in our watersheds. And, the economic and social benefits of enhanced salmon stocks are critical for coastal communities. Finally, only when we align our house, will we be a credible critic of the federal government and have any legitimacy in demanding better from them.

Now it is a matter of making this work a priority and investing in it. The province has made tremendous strides over the past year and a half and I look forward to that continuing in the coming year.

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1 Comment

  1. Ian Bruce

    HI Adam… thank you for your continuing support of Peninsula Streams Society and other environmental stewardship groups..
    When we provide education and opportunity for children and adults to participate in the stewardship of their neighbouring environment it empowers them to make decisions about their role and place in the while biosphere.
    Although we accomplish a lot with what resources we have, increased investment in non-profits by senior governments can multiply benefits exponentially.
    Ian Bruce, R.P.Bio.
    Executive Coordinator


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