Not Bad Science, Just No Science….

Interview with Elizabeth Nickson on RAR, Green Shores, UN Agenda 21, etc. –

Please Do the Right Thing….

The following email was sent to Sheila Malcolmson, Christine Torgrimson, George Ehring and Leah Hartley at 10:54 AM.

June 23, 2011

Trustee Sheila Malcolmson,
Chair Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee

Re – Public Hearing of proposed Bylaw 449 on June 25, 2011

Dear Sheila,

Given the events over the past few days, I am asking you to seriously consider my following suggestion regarding the Public Hearing now scheduled to reconvene at 10 AM Saturday morning.

Not being a Salt Spring Island resident you may be unaware that a Saturday here is quite different than on Gabriola. Saturday is one of the busiest days for most islanders.

My suggestion is that upon reconvening the Public Hearing at 10 AM Saturday morning, you announce the hearing will recess for lunch at 12 noon, reconvene at 1, recess at 4 for supper, and reconvene at 5 PM.

This will allow virtually everyone wishing to attend the opportunity to show up at 5 PM without the fear that if they don’t show up at 10 and stay for the rest of the day they will lose their opportunity to be heard after having shown up for this hearing TWICE already and having been turned away.

Under the circumstances and the inconveniences the public has already been subjected to, arguably because of poor planning, I am sure Salt Spring Islanders would be greatly appreciative.

While I understand you would likely have to wait to make the announcement upon reconvening the Public Hearing, you could announce today that you have heard this suggestion, like the idea as it may help to make amends of the inconveniences to the Public, will give it serious consideration and announce your decision on Saturday morning. In other words, you can let the public know you have heard and support the idea. If there is no procedural question of propriety by making such an announcement, it would then be up to you to decide whether to proceed with the idea or not.

I will be reading this letter to the public on my radio program this afternoon between 5 and 6:30. I would be happy to also read any response you have to it at the same time. Further, I would be happy to relay your reply via Salt Spring Community List (over 2,000 subscribers), Facebook connections, CFSI Radio public service announcements, email lists, etc. All you have to do is reply to me before 5 PM today via email.

My hope is that all members of the public who showed up on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons will be given ample and convenient opportunity to be heard on the most controversial issue on Salt Spring Island in 6 years.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours truly,

Eric Booth

Two Views – You Decide Which You Want to Believe

The following letter was published in the Island Tides. [My comments/responses are bracketed.]

Supporting Salt Spring’s Riparian Area Regulations Bylaw [Or not…]

Dear Editor:

This letter offers some facts in response to alarmist information being circulated regarding Salt Spring’s proposed riparian area protection bylaw, known as the RAR
bylaw. [Alarmist as opposed to what…misleading…like this letter?]

This bylaw is being proposed to comply with a provincial mandate for local governments in southern BC to adopt a bylaw protecting habitat of certain types of fish including
cutthroat trout and salmon. [We already have fish habitat protection, and have since 1998]

The proposed bylaw follows the format provided by the Province. [The proposed bylaw goes FAR beyond the format “provided by the Province.]

Salt Spring is one of the last communities which has not yet complied. [Salt Spring has been deemed to be in compliance since March 2005]

The draft bylaw would establish a Development Permit Area (DPA) covering 24 watersheds on Salt Spring that have streams capable of supporting these fish. Let’s call them
‘fish-habitat streams’.[Sure you can call them anything you want. But, the bylaw also covers ditches – Let’s call them “non-fish-habitat plain old ditches”]

The 24 watersheds cover a large part of the island. [About 60%, but the Trust says less than 10%]

But the bylaw does not affect all properties in the watershed. [Just the ones with drainage ditches or streams within 30 metres of them.]

It affects landowners proposing a new project (such as building a structure or clearing land) [or digging a garden] within an assessment area of 30 metres of a fish-habitat stream, [or of a ditch that runs into a fish-habitat stream no matter how far away from fish it may be] or its tributary streams and water-bodies, or five metres from a ditch that flows on the surface into such a stream [but only if a Qualified Environmental Professional agrees] , or ten metres from a few mapped non fish-bearing streams that have been in an existing development permit area for many years.

DPAs are not new to Salt Spring. They have been used for years to regulate activities near steep slopes, along the shore and near lakes and some streams. [And now they are being expanded greatly]

So, what will happen if your project is within a RAR assessment area? [Good question]

The bylaw would not establish a ‘set back’ or ‘no go’ area but rather a ‘go carefully’ assessment area. [Sorry, but this is total BS. A Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area (SPEA) established by a QEP  is a “no-go” area, and, will establish a “setback.” And, it may even be covenanted or requested to be transferred to someone else.]

A property owner will need to obtain a written assessment from a qualified environmental professional (QEP) describing where development can take place within the assessment area. [At a cost of about $1500 or more. Further, a Development Permit, cost $1,100 will be required. No where in this article does Maxine mention ‘real world’ costs.]

A QEP who spoke on Salt Spring said that the QEP tries to accommodate the landowner’s project while also protecting fish habitat. [If that was the case, why would non-fish bearing ditches need to be ‘protected’ under the bylaw? Oh yeah, its not just about fish…]

If done appropriately, a single assessment can guide future projects on the property. [Once again that is not true. There is nothing in the proposed bylaw which says if you have one assessment it is good for all time.]

Even within the assessment area, with some reasonable limitations, many activities are exempt, such as maintenance and modifications to structures and landscaping on their
existing footprint, installing fences, emergency measures and farming activities. [And then again, most activities are not exempt]

Ditches are included in RAR because destructive land clearing in or near a ditch can cause erosion and pollutants to be carried into a stream and harm fish habitat.  [And who controls most of these major ditches? Ministry of Transportation, which is not required to pay any attention to the bylaw.]

However, most activities near roadside ditches will not be affected since the five metre assessment area will usually be within the construction setback from the property line and normal landscape maintenance is exempt. [This ignores the fact that if you want to do anything on the boulevard in front of your property you will need permission from MoT and a Development Permit. This includes “regular maintenance.”]

The draft bylaw is supported by the Salt Spring Island Conservancy, the Cusheon Lake and St Mary Lake Stewardship Committees and the Salt Spring Island Water Preservation Society because it will help protect riparian areas including Salt Spring’s drinking water lakes, which, as recent blooms of toxin-producing cyanobacteria have shown, badly need all the help they can get. [And, it is not supported by hundreds of private property owners.]

A major threat to lake drinking water is erosion from land clearing along streams, which carry phosphorus (the primary contributor to the blooms) into lakes. [And those major ditches will be scraped bare every 3-7 years by the MoT without a care in the world, exposing phosphorus.]

The draft RAR bylaw has been criticized because it has maps of the watersheds that contain fish-habitat streams instead of maps of individual streams as was done on North Pender Island. [The mapping has been criticized because it is inaccurate (and has been for the past 11 years)]

North Pender has only three short fish-habitat streams. [So what?]

Salt Spring has 24 fish-habitat watersheds, some of which are huge with many tributary streams. [Welcome to Salt Spring. Didn’t you know this before you moved here from California?]

Trust staff stated at a recent public meeting that they have a ballpark estimate of $100,000 to map these streams. [The Trust has never requested a proper estimate. I did, from the same company that mapped Pender – less than $42,000 and two months to map all 24 watersheds. It took me 5 minutes and an email to obtain the detailed 5 page estimate.]

The Salt Spring Island trustees and staff have worked hard to craft a bylaw that follows the provincial guidelines while minimizing impacts on landowners. [Please…they have worked hard to ram this bylaw through before the end of the current Trustees’ term.]

Measures planned to mitigate any potential impact include reducing permit fees, minimizing the time to get a permit, helping landowners determine whether a permit is required and seeking funds to incrementally map streams. [This is another set of absurd ideas. They are entirely discretionary, are inequitable, and don’t hold any weight. It is nothing more than political pandering to try and grease the slide in the public’s eyes.]

Environmental protection has a cost, but so does lack of protection. [And the cost of accurate mapping has a cost – less than $42,000]

Fish numbers have declined because of habitat loss.[Not on Salt Spring they haven’t and I challenge Maxine to provide a shred of scientific evidence to support this claim.]

Removal of streamside vegetation increases water flow which can damage down-stream properties, and reduces infiltration to groundwater. [And the existing 10m setbacks under the existing Development Permit areas are sufficient to protect fish habitat island-wide.]

Blooms of toxin-producing cyanobacteria have resulted in many Salt Spring residents being unable to drink their tap water for months. [This bylaw will not prevent cyanobacteria blooms, and I challenge Maxine to provide the science, other than ‘conjecture science,’ which shows how the bylaw will prevent blooms.]

Our quality of life and the success of our tourism industry depend on having a healthy natural environment. [Our quality of life also depends on our enjoyment of our property without having to pay large sums of money to effectively prevent/protect nothing.]

In the real world, the effectiveness of an environmental protection measure is always balanced against costs and inconvenience. [And yet who is it who doesn’t want to pay for accurate mapping or inconveniently wait until the mapping is complete before moving forward? Oh yeah, that would be you.]

This proposed bylaw is a balanced approach that deserves our support. [This bylaw is a blanket/shotgun approach that will not improve the environment, and in its current form does not deserve anyone’s support.]

Maxine Leichter, Salt Spring Island [Eric Booth, Salt Spring Island]

Signs, Signs, Someone is Stealin’ the Signs

Well, I guess they are running scared, and have shown their true colours – thieves no less.

The question is WHO are “They”?

Who would want to tear down signs announcing a Public Hearing or bringing to the attention of the public proposed new regulations?

Democratically minded people or thugs and bullies?

Just one more reason to stand up and be counted next Tuesday. Don’t let THEM think they have won the day.

All they have done is to separate themselves from the 99% of Islanders who abhor such actions.

See you next Tuesday at 5:00.

Public Hearing June 21st Tuesday 5PM

Over the next week this blog will serve as a sounding board for anyone looking for information on the “Ditch Protection Bylaw.”

If you have any questions or comments, please fire away.