Mark Angelo: New funding needed to protect and restore B.C. waterways

B.C. is blessed with an amazing river heritage, perhaps the finest in the world. Our waterways have immense natural, cultural, recreational and economic value and, when one reviews historic settlement patterns that have occurred for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, it becomes evident that rivers have done much to influence and shape who we are as British Columbians.

Yet, despite their many attributes, our waterways continue to face an array of pressures and threats. These range from pollution and urbanization to industrial development, the excessive extraction of water and climate change.

As a river advocate and paddler for more than five decades, I’ve seen first-hand the many different ways a river can be damaged or lost. At the same time, I take some comfort in the fact that many British Columbians now view the proper care of rivers and water to be among our most pressing environmental issues.

In an effort to better care for our waterways, we must develop a more comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to river stewardship and a key element of that centers around the need for a major new funding initiative.

On a positive note, the federal government did roll out the Coastal Restoration Fund in 2016, a national program aimed at restoring coastal aquatic habitats, but many of the available funds in B.C. were quickly absorbed in the first year. While this was an admirable effort, I think we must do something much more extensive if we are to adequately protect our rivers.

This is especially true of the Fraser River, a waterway I’ve come to know well since first paddling its entire length back in 1975. It’s a river I’ve long viewed as the heart and soul of our province and certainly one of the world’s great waterways.

Yet within the Fraser watershed alone, there are hundreds of specific issues …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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