SEHAB Member: Paul Cipywnyk
Area: North Fraser Burnaby to Mission
Community Advisor: Maurice Coulter-Boisvert
Date: June 2016
What top three points can you distill from community input to take to DFO RHQ?
- Slow implementation of watershed-friendly features such as rain gardens, swales, biofiltration ponds, etc. For example, some cities have been demanding private developers implement infiltration, yet are doing very little on their own properties, streets, schoolyards, etc. Since the passing of several ISMPs, one city has redeveloped several major roads in watersheds with active stewardship groups, but to the consternation of volunteers, has actually reduced permeability.
Studies such as Integrated Stormwater Management Plans, development charrettes, community plans, etc., sit on shelves for years as deadlines for goals pass with nothing done. There are constant solicitations to the stewardship community to attend such processes and provide input, but groups are getting to the point where they are refusing to participate, because nothing ever changes on the ground.
- The round robin of federal, provincial, regional, and municipal finger-pointing never seems to end, with nobody taking responsibility for protecting local habitat, and implementing rehabilitation. It is very difficult for volunteers to get things done in some areas, while in others it is relatively easy. Why the disparity? Why shouldn’t all have to step up and meet at least some minimal level of protection and restoration? As alluded to in the previous point, this exacerbates volunteer burnout, and several stewardship groups in the region are teetering on the edge of existence as volunteers get fed up, and give up.
- There is concern about what will happen to CA institutional knowledge, and relations between DFO and stewardship groups, as CAs retire. Volunteers need to be reassured – through concrete means such as face-to-face meetings, in-depth introductions, and “get to know you” sessions – that good new CAs will take over, and will be properly trained, mentored, and connected to their communities.
A few examples of successes, failures, challenges.
Despite the concerns in the three points above, many stewardship groups continue to be active, and carry on a broad range of data collection following the modules in The Streamkeepers Handbook.
Several groups have good relations with local elementary and high schools, and regularly involve schoolkids in activities, events, and tours. Several groups are also successful in getting regular press coverage about their activities.
Several stewards have noted a new openness and positivity in DFO with the new mandate letter to the minister, and there are high hopes that, as some put it, “the ten years in the wilderness” are finally over, and better times are to come.