qathet Regional District directors vote against providing letter supporting fish restocking

Regional board reverses support

qathet Regional District directors are opposed to a recommendation to write a letter of support for fish restocking in the qathet region.

At the November 26 regional board meeting, directors considered correspondence from city resident Jim Parsons, who stated he was preparing a proposal to submit to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC to request restocking of lakes in the region. Parsons requested a letter of support for his initiative and the recommendation before the board was to provide the letter, coming from the committee of the whole meeting earlier in the month.

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City director CaroleAnn Leishman said she had new information regarding this item, which was originally introduced at the regional district’s November committee of the whole meeting. She said Parsons had also come to a City of Powell River committee of the whole meeting and gave a presentation. Leishman sits as a councillor with the city.

“He spoke to it at committee of the whole and then left the meeting,” said Leishman. “Our council voted to send a letter of support, which we haven’t done yet.

“At the end of the meeting, a freshwater fisheries consultant, who stayed through the whole meeting, spoke to council, expressing some concerns about whether or not the lakes in our region need the restocking.”

Leishman called him the next day and they spoke for an hour. Leishman said he had a lot of information.

“He knows our lakes backwards and forwards,” said Leishman. “He knows all of the biologists involved in the program and has already spoken with some of them. His main concern is that from his perspective, he believes that our lakes are far from lacking fish.

“He is concerned about throwing off the natural balance in the ecosystem of some of the lakes because there is competition for the food. He had all of these arguments against this.”

Leishman said at the committee of the whole, one of the councillors suggested the matter be left to the biologists to decide. Leishman said the consultant told her the biologists were going to call him because he’s the person who knows all of the fisheries situations and the lakes.

“He said he wouldn’t refer it,” said Leishman. “From his perspective, there is a risk that money will be spent, and there are a lot of lakes in BC that actually need the fish, so he feels that we shouldn’t be taking money to do all of this exploratory process. At the end of the day, they are going to call him and he’s going to say he doesn’t recommend it.”

Leishman said she initially spoke in favour of supporting Parsons with a letter but after speaking with the fisheries consultant, she is going to vote against the regional district providing a letter of support.

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said there are a lot of lakes in the area. He said Leishman is correct that care needs to be taken that there are not introduced species being brought into these lakes.

“I understand that Texada Island has some very sensitive life forms in different lakes where you definitely wouldn’t want to be introducing anything that’s not already in that lake,” said Gisborne.

City director George Doubt said Leishman has a good point.

“It’s easy for us to say go ahead and make the application and we’ll support it and we hope the provincial biologist will keep us safe and make decisions,” said Doubt. “What we are asking is the provincial government to expend scarce resources on something that may or may not end up being a good idea. I think we want to be really careful about that.

“With the information I have now, I’m inclined to go the way that director Leishman is going.”

Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon said he came away from the regional district committee of the whole meeting, where Parsons’s correspondence was initially reviewed, and he had a lot of reservations about the motion that was before the board. He said he was glad to hear from Leishman.

“I’m tending to agree with the two of you,” said Brabazon, of Leishman and Doubt.

Electoral Area C director Clay Brander said it was good to hear Leishman’s presentation and he is also nervous about supporting Parsons’ letter.

Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said she was also concerned.

“We are not biologists and we are not experts in the field,” said McCormick. “There are some lakes on Texada with endangered stickleback species and if new species were introduced into those lakes it could be very detrimental to the populations that are there now,” said McCormick. “I’m certainly going to be voting against it.”

The directors opposed the motion to send a letter of support to Parsons, with Gisborne abstaining.

 
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