From our Executive Director, Barry Janyk:
Tetrahedron Provincial Park, just east of Sechelt, was established in 1995—in part to provide a pristine watershed for the Sunshine Coast. Due to years of Sunshine Coast Regional District inaction, development on the lower Sunshine Coast has surpassed the ability of the SCRD to provide adequate water in summer.
The RD has adopted the position that further water can simply be drained from one of the main features of the Class A Tetrahedron Provincial Park —Chapman Lake—through a $5M waterworks expansion that would see the lake drained by up to 8 metres, vertical. Two options to accomplish this objective are being advanced by BC Parks:
- A boundary adjustment removing 130 ha from the 6,000 ha park
- Redesignate all, or some, of the park to allow the works to occur. Under the ELUC Act it could be designated as a Land Act Section 17 watershed (no longer Section 16, formerly Section 12) which allows the Minister to approve any activities that he considers compatible with providing community water supply – which under current policy could include logging.
Rather than deal with the issue of storage capacity that is at the heart of the matter, the SCRD is choosing to adopt an expedient measure that will ensure water for continued subdivisions—more growth and development. A long-term solution is not being seriously pursued so the draw down of Chapman Lake would only provide a temporary reprieve. But it would meet the immediate political needs.
The SCRD has made an application to BC Parks to find the ways and means to accommodate their scheme. Under the Park Management Plan there is to be “comprehensive public consultation.” According to Jennie Aikman, BC Parks Regional Director, rather than hosting a facilitated community meeting (or meetings) this will consist of an informal “open house.” When asked why there would be no community meetings to discuss this critical issue, Ms. Aikman maintained that they can often turn into confrontational disputes. In any event, the process appears to be counter to some of the key principles of the province’s own guidelines around adjusting park boundaries.
The notice for the “open house” states: “Learn about and provide input on the options being considered that will enable the Sunshine Coast Regional District to enhance the community water supply system in Tetrahedron Park.” It appears that status quo is not an option. BC Parks is committing to ‘enhancing the water system in the park,’ to paraphrase. Period. So where was the consultation on the fundamental question: “Should this occur – or not?”
There is a belief that BC Parks is ready to relinquish this special park—part of only 3% that exists on the Sunshine Coast. By creating a flawed process, it seems apparent that BC Parks is unwilling to address the community’s deep concerns about the implications of the SCRD’s plans. The demise of the Tetrahedron provides nothing more than quick relief yet the park will be permanently ruined. This is very serious folks.
There are alternatives the SCRD can pursue to alleviate pressure from the Chapman system. They are:
- Completion of the regional metering program—saving the SCRD at least 30-40% of treated volume (2019/2020)
- Town of Gibsons is withdrawing from the SCRD distribution system freeing up ~230,000 m3 per annum – approximately 500 residences (2019)
- Introduction of area groundwater distribution systems (2019/2020)
- Construction of a reservoir (2019-2020)
As a former long time local government representative—and even longer founder and supporter of this park—I have grave concerns with this situation and the Federation and many other organisations are now aware of the situation. This Class A park will be gutted by either option. What park will be next…?
We need to invoke our best skills and resources to address this matter. And we need genuine public process—one that follows stated policy. BC Parks needs to hear the community, not the politicians. It’s only fair.