The Ymir Community Watershed Society is hoping Premier John Horgan will hear their concerns about proposed developments in the Quartz Creek watershed. A document has been put together detailing a formal complaint of procedural unfairness against BC Timber Sales (BCTS) which was sent to the Premier and Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
The watershed serves as the town’s only potable water source and is already prone to low flows during the summer. The watershed also contains acid rock which could become contaminated if disturbed.
Spokesperson for the Society Jason Leus says they’ve been actively engaged with BCTS for the past 21 months; however, feels their concerns aren’t being heard.
“We support responsible forestry. What we’re most concerned of is the security of our only viable source of potable and fire hydrant water. It’s really important to know that we have no other option.”
The Society feels there’s no proper contingency plan in place if the watershed becomes contaminated. They also feel that any risks will be left to the residents to deal with.
Leus explains the Society feels more data is needed before anything should happen.
“Press pause, until we do our homework and find out how this and other watersheds function, with using data, before we decide to proceed or not with development.”
He adds the risk of devastating consequences is well worth the time to take a cautious and careful approach.
The Ministry of Forests did issue the following response in relation to the Society’s document:
- Public engagement is a key component of planning for successful forestry operations.
- BC Timber Sales recognizes the concerns about potential impacts to the watershed.
- BC Timber Sales engaged the public and stakeholders early in the planning process, and continues to meet regularly with the Ymir Community Watershed Society and the regional district. The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 12.
- Three hydrological assessments have been completed to date:
- The first was a preliminary assessment of overall watershed sensitivity and indicated a low to very low likelihood for any stream flow changes or channel impacts from planned activities.
- The second detailed, peer-reviewed study assessed key watershed processes, including risk analysis and recommendations to reduce risk, with a particular focus on road locations. This study also did not find a high risk to water quality or stream flow from planned development.
- The latest assessment on the potential for acid rock and highly mineralized drainage along road locations, including qualified registered professional recommendations for maintaining natural drainage patterns and minimizing risk is being finalized. BCTS will be discussing the findings with local stakeholders once the ministry has had an opportunity to review them.
- BCTS will be completing another hydrological assessment of site-level drainage and soil erosion for planned cutblocks.
- As in all planned harvests in watersheds, BCTS has also been working with the regional district on emergency response and contingency planning and provided the watershed committee with a draft emergency response plan.
- Additionally, BCTS has been working with the Regional District of Central Kootenay to establish a streamflow monitoring program and to monitor turbidity.