Burnco Rock Products wants to build a large scale open pit gravel mine in the McNab Creek watershed in Howe Sound, despite widespread opposition. The project proposes to dig a 30-hectare pit, build an onsite crushing and processing plant, and produce 20 million tonnes of aggregate over 16 years.
This highly destructive project threatens McNab Creek, which is one of only three salmon-bearing estuaries in Howe Sound. McNab Creek is an ecological jewel, and provides vital habitat for bald eagles, Roosevelt Elk, and 23 species at risk.
Given the proximity of alternative, undeveloped gravel resources, why should this gravel mine be permitted in such a vitally important and sensitive ecosystem?
Two public comment periods
A 30-day public comment period for the Provincial Environmental Assessment on the Burnco gravel mine started on 27th October 2017. This is the last step in the Provincial process, to review the draft report that will then be delivered to the ministers responsible for making the final decision. The BC Environmental Assessment Office aims to have the final report on the Ministers' desks by 8th December 2017: the Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, and the Minister of Energy, Mines, & Petroleum Resources.
A separate 30-45 day public comment period for the Federal Environmental Assessment will then start sometime in December, dates to be confirmed.
We are setting up a Citizens Working Group to review the reports. If you would like to help please email: email@example.com
Stay tuned for more info.
In the meantime, watch this video by Bob Turner, explaining why McNab Creek is so important, and learn more about the importance of our estuaries below.
Why are estuaries important?
Estuaries and wetlands are one of the ecosystems most threatened by development. Estuaries are an irreplaceable natural resource, and deliver invaluable ecosystem services, as well as providing economic, cultural, and ecological benefits to our communities. Here are just a few reasons that estuaries are important:
- Provide nursery habitat for juvenile salmon, herring, and other species
- Provide habitat for resident waterfowl and songbirds
- Provide resting and feeding habitat for migratory birds (e.g., eagles)
- Food source for black bears, roosevelt elk, and other mammals
- Sedges and seagrasses stabilize sediment, and filter nutrients and contaminants to make our water cleaner
- Seagrasses and saltmarshes trap (sequester) more carbon than rainforests
- Protect coastal areas from floods and storm surges, acting as a buffer
- Connect the mountains to the ocean
These intact wetlands save Howe Sound taxpayers up to $22.5 million per year in storm and flood protection, air pollution health costs, water purification facilities, climate change mitigation and more.
- Coastal Ocean Research Institute (2017) OceanWatch: Howe Sound Edition. Vancouver Aquarium, 365pp.
- Michelle Molnar (2015) Sound Investment: Measuring the return on Howe Sound's ecosystem assets. David Suzuki Foundation, 76pp.
- Bridgham, S.D., J.P. Megonigal, J.K. Keller, N.B. Bliss, and C. Trettin. 2006. The carbon balance of North American wetlands. Wetlands 26: 889–916.
- Cebrian, J. and C. M. Duarte. 1996. Plant growth-rate dependence of detrital carbon storage in ecosystems. Science 268: 1606-1608.
- Duarte, C.M., W.C. Dennison, R.J.W. Orth and T.J.B. Carruthers. 2008. The charisma of coastal ecosystems: addressing the imbalance”- Estuaries and Coasts 31:233–238.
- Duarte, C.M., M. Holmer, Y. Olsen, D. Soto, N. Marbà, J. Guiu, K. Black and I. Karakassis. 2009. Will the Oceans Help Feed Humanity? BioScience 59 (11): 967–976.
- Nellemann, C., Corcoran, E., Duarte, C. M., Valdés, L., De Young, C., Fonseca, L., Grimsditch, G. (Eds). 2009. Blue Carbon. A Rapid Response Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme