In the fall of 2012 the Directors of the East Porpoise Bay Community Association became concerned about air quality in Sechelt and in particular about how local gravel pits might be impacting the air quality. A meeting was arranged between representatives from the Ministry of the Environment (BC), the District of Sechelt, the Clean Air Society and East Porpoise Bay Community Association. As a result of that meeting particulate monitoring testing commenced in Dec. 2012 at two sites, one at Marmot Rd. and the other on top of Trail Bay mall, which was the site of earlier testing. The equipment for the testing and the analysis of the test results has been funded by the Ministry of the Environment. The volunteers to carry out the testing were from the East Porpoise Bay Community Association. Testing at the Marmot Rd. Site was completed in March 2014. Testing is ongoing at the Trail Bay mall.
The testing results in two readings, one for particulate matter 2.5 ug/m3 and below and one for
particulates 2.5 – 10 ug/m3. The finer particulates, 2.5 ug/m3 and below, are considered of most concern from a health perspective. In the period from Dec. 2012 to Feb. 2014 there were 3
readings over the limit for the 2.5 ug/m3 at East Porpoise Bay and 2 readings over the limit at the
Trail Bay site. For the 10 ug/m3 readings there was only one reading over the limit for the East
Porpoise Bay site and no readings over the limit at the Trail Bay site. To put this in perspective there were 90 sampling days at both sites during this period. The average concentrations for the 2.5 ug/m3 particles is approximately half of the limit allowed in BC and puts us in the middle of the pack compared to other BC communities. The average of the 10 ug/m3 concentrations at both sites was approximately one third of the allowed maximum at both sites. There did not appear to be any significant difference between the two sites. Further reports will be requested from the Ministry of the Environment.
We continue to work with Sechelt Council on the derelict boat situation. We are concerned about the pollution to Sechelt Inlet and especially Porpoise Bay. As you may know there are in excess of 30 abandon, derelict and/or live aboard vessels in Porpoise bay. We have already witnessed at least 4 boats sink or blow on shore. Members of your executive met with our Federal Member of Parliament, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, this past summer to get information on the Federal plans to deal with derelict vessels. $5.5 million was allocated to the first phase to help applicants complete grant applications to develop plans to deal with offending vessels. We understand that applications have been made by the District of Sechelt and $70,000 has been allocated to determining how to deal with 14 of the abandoned and derelict vessels. The Federal program is for all waters in Canada. This is a national problem and neither the initial amount nor the entire approximately $500 million allocated to the program will solve all the problems across Canada.
Your Board, with great assistance from one of our members managed to remove a sunken runabout that washed up and proceeded to bury itself on the beach in front of Heron Rd. The boat was man handled by members of our association to within reach of a tow line and was towed onto Heron Beach Access. After a call to District a crew made quick work of disposing of the boat. Our member also towed out the remains of a derelict wharf that had inhabited the beach beside the Burnet Rd spit for years. Previous attempts to get it removed had had no effect but once our member’s efforts got it off the beach a call again to the District had it disposed of within a couple of hours.
Early in 2017 after the publication of the report by the Deloitte consulting group on the Disrict’s Water Resouce Center we reviewed the report and raised concerns with the District about a number of items in the report including the warranties that were soon scheduled to expire. We believe the construction of Water Resource Center was a significant improvement to the District’s infrastructure which has been underappreciated by some in the community and by Council and has not been maintained and utilized as it should have been.
The Directors have been lobbying Council to proceed with the use of reclaimed water from the Water Resource Center but have been told that there is no viable way to use the reclaimed water. Your Board doubts that this has been properly considered. As well, the Directors have been urging Sechelt and the SCRD to start moving towards provision of an adequate water supply. We are of the opinion that an engineered lake is absolutely essential and should be a priority for the SCRD. We have expressed our concerns to both the SCRD and the District of Sechelt Councilors
One of the goals of the East Porpoise Community Association is to promote the environmental and ecological well-being of Sechelt Inlet and, in particular, Porpoise Bay. We have been concerned over the last few years about the increasing number of derelict boats that are locating in Porpoise Bay and we have expressed our concerns to our local and higher levels of government. We are very appreciative of the recent action taken by the federal government with their Derelict and Abandoned Boats Program, Bill C-64, and the support of this program by the Sechelt District government. As you know, this bill has resulted in a $70,000 grant to Sechelt to start work dealing with this serious problem. Our concerns with abandoned, sunken and derelict boats also extends to un-regulated live aboard boats and anchored vessels. These concerns led us to hire renowned diver and videographer, Neil McDaniel, (http://www.neilmcdaniel.com/index.html) to document the ocean bottom between the government dock and MacKenzie Marina (the area of Porpoise Bay where derelict boats are concentrated) and compare it to the ocean bottom further up the inlet. Neil is a part-time resident of Sechelt and has taken some stunning underwater videos of Sechelt Inlet one of which can be found here:
https://vimeo.com/195132401. Compare that with the underwater video from between the government dock and Mackenzie marina: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1QdXwqbtps&feature=youtu.be. We need multi-level governmental support to protect the fragile marine environment in Porpoise Bay and it is our hope these videos document the urgency for such co-operation and lead to action. We urge you to share and discuss this issue and the links to both videos.
As part of the East Porpoise Bay Community Association concern for the environment the Directors have met yearly with Lehigh, the areas largest gravel pit, starting in 2012 and going to 2016. Initially, dust production was our main concern. During an extensive tour of the plant the site manager outlined the dust mitigation processes that they undertake and shared with us their dust monitoring results. Their monitoring is focused on employee health. It was interesting and relevant. To reduce the amount of dust-producing traffic on the mine site, extensive use is made of conveyors, which total 35 kilometres in length. Some 90% of water used for dust control and gravel cleaning is recycled, a percentage they hope to increase to 100%. As our own air monitoring results became available it became apparent that air quality was not the serious issue that we thought it might have been.
In 2014, our focus switched to noise concerns as expressed by many of our members. As a result of our concerns Lehigh carried out two sets of noise monitoring in July and October 2014. These tests were carried out by SLR Consulting which appears to be a very professional company. During the first test two sites were used, Marine Way in Sechelt and Heron Road in East Porpoise Bay. For the second set of tests two sites closer to the mine were used. These sites were at the top of Sechelt Inlet Crescent and on Dusty Road to the north of the mine.
On Dec. 9, 2014 some of the Directors met with the site manager and SLR Consulting at Lehigh. The consultant went over the results of the noise reports that prepared for Lehigh. The consultant noted that the decibel level results obtained from the testing would not be considered excessive in any jurisdiction in Canada. Also explained was that weather conditions and time of day can affect the level of noise perception. They felt that the upper crusher was the source of most of the noise coming from the Lehigh operation. They explained that the noise from the upper crusher should improve over time as the level of the upper site is lowering as gravel is extracted and that the crusher would be further below the upper berm as this process proceeded. During the tour the site manager demonstrated the effectiveness of rubber strips hung around the lower crusher in noise abatement. He committed to continue noise testing later in the spring at the sites of the first tests at the intersection of Heron and Marmot and across the bay at Marine Way. Our Directors present at this meeting were pleased with the level of cooperation and openness of Lehigh in dealing with this problem. The issues of dust and noise will be revisited when required.
Our residential and business members of the East Porpoise Bay Community Association are very aware that Sechelt Inlet is of critical importance to our community, to Sechelt as a whole, and to all who visit for recreational opportunities. It is at the core of Sechelt’s identity.
With that in mind we have assisted the Sechelt Nation in monitoring the quality of water of 7 creeks flowing into the inlet’s southern end, 6 of which are presently salmon spawning, though tenuously so at times.
Led by our Secretary, Greg Deacon, we have played, and continue to play, a very active role repeatedly calling upon all levels of government for the removal of derelict, abandoned and hazardous vessels and structures from Porpoise Bay. See above video links in the section Porpoise Bay Pollution.
Our interest in helping to achieve good ecological outcomes for Sechelt Inlet and the streams that flow into it will continue.
Yew Park located at the intersection Sechelt Inlet Road and Yew Road was officially opened in June 2014. The area has been left in a very natural state. A bench has been strategically placed to provide a restful site for enjoying this serene setting. Resident and migrating birds, including water fowl, can be seen throughout the year. The ponds are encircled or crossed by a level easy walking path.
Following a number of years of advocating by our Association to establish a walking path to Burnett Falls our efforts were rewarded in February 2014 when the District of Sechelt developed this outstanding park. Colder weather provides infrequent opportunities to see the falls in a largely frozen state.
Sechelt’s Parks Dept. under the leadership of its Manager, Perry Schmidt, developed an environmentally sound walkable path maintaining the natural beauty of this area. The path was excavated by Jason Herz of Small World Excavating with careful environmental regard. We thank him for that. Several of our members assist in manually clearing the path throughout the year.
Three viewing areas are provided along the path, the first being a picnic table giving a good opportunity to get a good view of Sechelt Inlet. The second is a bench half way up the path providing a view of pools in Burnett Creek in which, in some years, spawning salmon can be seen. The third is the bench at the falls which provides changing views and soundscapes as the seasons come and go. The falls are always beautiful, and at times spectacular.
Burnett Falls is one of the best parks to visit in Sechelt. Take your camera along. The walk to the falls only takes 8 to 10 minutes from the parking area below.
Members of our Community volunteer to cleanup Sechelt Inlet Rd. from Delta Rd. to Porpoise Bay Provincial Park on a monthly basis throughout the year. At approximately 3 month intervals we extend this effort to the entrance of Hidden Grove. Every month we include cleanup of Yew Park, Burnett Falls Park and the beach accesses within our community.
This program was initiated by Eric Kastner in 2010 and has been ongoing without interruption for 8 years now.
East Porpoise Bay Community Association volunteers who have participated or are participating in this endeavor are Mel Bolivar, Linda Buckingham, Greg Deacon, Mike Hoole, Brian Humphrey, Joan Humphrey, Louis Legal, Bill MacKinnon, Patti MacKinnon, Tom Morris, Serge Planidin, Adam Shepherd, Geoff White and Pete Wooding.
We are in need of some more volunteers. Please contact Peter Wooding at 604 885-5537 if you would like to join our crew.
Typically we like to schedule cleanups in the morning of the second Wednesday of each month, moving it if notably poor weather requires a change in scheduling.