This is our letter to the BC Minister of Environment, George Heyman, sent on August 29, 2018, and CC’d to Premier Horgan. We’ve presented 3 ideas to close up the gaps and protect our waters. Please help us. Jump on the phone, or send a short email, and let Mr. Heyman’s office know that you support our ideas 100%, you want to see the funds raised, and you want all border inspection stations expanded to 24-hours.
Email: email@example.com Phone: (250) 387-1187
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (250) 387-1715
Dear Minister Heyman,
It was a pleasure to meet with your Assistant Deputy Ministers, Jennifer McGuire and Jim Standen, on August 22, 2018, regarding the imminent threat that zebra and quagga mussels pose to British Columbia's freshwater ecology, native fish species, freshwater infrastructure, economy, tourism, beach quality, water quality, property values, hydro dams, drinking water, and all forms of freshwater recreation.
The boat inspection program that is currently in place on our borders is an excellent foundation for protecting BC, and I am grateful to your team and the dedicated inspectors and Conservation Officers working on the front lines.
That said, the program is not complete.
During our meeting, your assistant deputy ministers agreed that despite the measures in place, we are not at 100% protection. Far from it, in fact. Without 24-hour stations at Dawson Creek, Mt. Robson, Radium, and Crowsnest, it is a mathematical inevitability that a mussel-infested boat will enter BC during the hours of the night, and will infest BC with zebra and/or quagga mussels.
As your assistant deputy ministers explained, leaving those 4 inter-provincial border crossings unmonitored at night is a calculated risk.
That is not acceptable. The “risk” in this “calculated risk” is far too great. If we miss one boat, we will have allowed a PERMANENT and devastating change to British Columbia's freshwater.
You have a successful 24-hour station at Golden. There is no reason it can’t be replicated at the other 4 locations. If there is a way forward to more protection, we MUST proceed as soon as possible.
The primary obstacle is money, so let’s solve that. Here are the three ideas I put forward:
1) - A new fee is introduced that is added to BC’s existing fishing license. This is not a fee increase, but a new, supplementary fee that is brought in to help pay for protection of the resource. The money comes directly to your program. This is what Montana has done, with $2 for residents and $15 for non-residents.
- This is also a FANTASTIC opportunity to educate people during the transaction. As anglers (from BC or visiting) purchase their license for the year, they learn about the new fee, Z/Q mussels, and the angler's responsibility in not spreading AIS. Talk about killing two big birds with one well-aimed stone.
2) - A Boater Registration fee. Starting in 2019, all boaters in BC must be registered. $10 for residents, and $25 for non-residents. Registration can be done online, or incoming boaters can purchase directly from the boat inspection station.
- Again, this is a seamless opportunity to engage and educate boaters.
3) - BC Hydro surcharge. Starting in 2019, all BC Hydro customers pay a $3/year fee to protect the resource from damages that would end up costing the customer a heck of a lot more.
- Sidenote, has BC Hydro sent out a special bulletin (paper or email) to all their customers, educating them on the risk of mussel infestation and how each BC resident can play their part in protection? If not, why not?
The dollar amounts on the above suggestions are estimates. That said, one of the above ideas (or a combination) would bring in an additional $2-$4 million per year, every year, and easily pay for the expansion of the 4 stations to 24 hours, and perhaps also pay for other necessities (more dogs, more education, more CO’s, extra roving teams to respond to the federal border, a longer inspection season).
Some people will be slightly annoyed to have to pay these fees... but only until they understand why the fees are being put in place. Then, they will GLADLY part with a few dollars to protect where they play, and protect BC.
In summary, there is a clear way forward here, and I can see no reason to not take it, with all haste. Let’s close the gaps. Isn’t BC worth it?
With my best regards,
Protect Our Freshwater
Director - Society for the Protection of Kal Lake