Unintended Consequences

12,000 years ago Fulford Valley was under a mile of ice.

When the thaw was finally over, and rainwater began to fall, and flow over the land, slowly, year after year, Fulford Creek began to be carved out of the valley bottom. Forests began to grow, and after a few centuries there was enough flow and depth for salt water fish to begin exploring the estuary and further upstream.

From time to time, once every couple of decades or so, forest fires would start and burn themselves out. Douglas Firs survived and virtually everything else burned up. This led to more erosion, more runoff, and more material being flushed out into Fulford Harbour.

With each of those fires and flushes the Creek was renewed, as accumulated undergrowth was naturally removed and the creekbed, having found solid ground, was scoured.

Those natural “cycles” kept the Creek alive and well for salmon for centuries.

Fast forward to 1850 and new settlers who weren’t big fans of forest fires.

Fire suppression began and the natural cycle was stopped. Settlers tended to their own portions of the Creek and would clear the Riparian areas of vegetation from time to time, with sheep and cattle grazing down to the edge.

However, the amount of flushing was greatly decreased as a result and the Creek started to fill in.

Forward again to a few years ago, and the Islands Trust passed the Riparian Area Development Permit bylaw, basically banning any human activity with 30 metres, unless it was agricultural activity.

What does all of this mean for the future?

Well, the Creek will continue to fill in with silt and vegetation, choking out the natural habitat that was the result of the aforementioned cycles.

We have interfered continually with Nature, and have yet adopted the common sense to see what we are doing, or what the solutions are.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Transportation (a branch of the Provincial government) will continue to scour the ditches in Fulford valley every few years, to ensure that they don’t fill in and cause flooding of roads or property.

That alone should be a valuable, learned lesson. Ditches fill in, vegetate and need to be cleaned because there is not enough flushing action to naturally scour.

So, what happens now when a private property owners’ drainage ditches that feed into a “riparian stream” fill in? They are not to be touched. They are to be protected by a Streamside Enhancement and Protection Area (SPEA) designation.

And, as they fill in, they will suck up more water that would have run into Fulford Creek.

That’s the table that’s been set by those who blindly believe that we can blindly preserve and protect the unnatural environment we have created on Salt Spring as if it was natural.


Welcome to the world of unintended consequences…

Islands Trust Temporary Use Permit

Link to submission to the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee regarding the Islands Trust Administrative Services Division’s request for a 4th Temporary Use Permit for the Trust offices at 500 Lower Ganges (B.C. Hydro building).

Islands Trust TUP Submission

2016 Staff Report – Islands Trust TUP Staff Report September 2016

2019 Staff Report – Islands Trust TUP Staff Report August 2019