The Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife club has been operating the fish hatchery since it became fully operational in 1986 and though the hatchery is not in imminent danger, the director of the club feels that a national park would help ensure the hatchery remains viable.
The hatchery, as well as the health of fish-bearing streams, on Bowen are two reasons club director Bill Newport says he, and, he says, the majority of club members, support a park. In a recent talk with the Undercurrent Newport said they are supportive of Parks Canada on Bowen in part because the lands tabled need protecting.
The club has "about 20 members" and Newport believes they would benefit from the additional stewardship Parks Canada would bring and from any funding the federal organization might be able to contribute to the local fish and wildlife landscape. His group and Parks Canada met in March.
"It is my understanding from the talk I had with Parks Canada that they would partner with us on some of our salmon-related projects within the park and, in this case, funding would - if at that time they had some rehabilitation money - be easier.
"Funding for our club activities outside of the park would still be our club's responsibility, such as the Explosives Creek salmon climbing pools, bringing back the herring, etc.," Newport said.
Newport said that while lands such as the hatchery and Davies Creek, for example, are protected, other unprotected lands, if they were developed, could have an impact on them. The current level of land protection is not adequate, he believes, to ensure that there will never be the kind of development that could be harmful to the hatchery and Bowen watercourses.
If Crown land were protected, that would change things.
"If Crown land had a guaranteed watershed protection and no commercial development then a national park would not really be required for protection purposes," Newport says. "But Crown land has no protection from commercial purposes and no guaranteed watershed protection so in this case, for the hatchery and our fish bearing streams, the national park would offer the best protection.
"In the case of Crippen Regional Park, all the water flowing from Killarney Lake and Terminal Creek plus Davies Creek and all the lagoon fresh water - all wild-salmon-bearing waterways - is supplied from areas outside of the park. In other words all Crippen Regional Park waters come from elsewhere and if protection is not kept up then Crippen will dry up."
Another area Parks Canada is active in is the educating of youth, an ongoing part of what the wildlife club does. An example is the Coho Bon Voyage. This year's 18th annual, open to all ages, takes place Sunday June 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Terminal Creek Hatchery and 1 to 2 p.m. at the Lagoon Causeway.
In an email, Wayne Bourque, superintendent of the Gulf Islands National Parks Reserve, told Newport that "educating youth and engaging them in the maintenance and restoration of the ecosystem is a corporate priority for Parks Canada. The agency is keen to collaborate with groups, such as the Fish and Wildlife Club, in these kinds of activities that actively promote community involvement in restoration and education programs."
Newport feels the Wildlife Club and Parks Canada could build a strong working relationship. "In my estimation it (would be) positive."