All candidates, what is your stance on dredging of the Mamquam Blind Channel to allow safer navigation for recreational boaters and which branches of government should supply funding?


I am opposed to the dredging, which will resurrect poisonous mercury. 

I am in the election to be on Council to be effective in my opposition to the dredging which will resurrect poisonous mercury.


No one should fund the dredging or profit from it.


Thank you for this question and this opportunity to explain.


There’s lots of deep water and development there for those who need to invest in the cruise ship business or live next to their boat.  Marinas I have visited are polluted.  Household waste and toxins from boat repairs pollute.  The so-called channel is estuary and is filling in nicely after 15 years without dredging.  An estuary is infinitely more valuable than a marina as it is the nursery of the ocean.  For decades I have opposed this obstinate Squamish Council attitude that will destroy the one self-sustaining treasure we have for the short-term gain of a few profiteers and sailors.  The fishermens’ union ought to be consulted before they begin to sue the District as they have done the logging companies on the east coast for the destruction of the watersheds and estuaries that are necessary nurseries for the fish we need to feed a planet in a food crisis. 


We have a beautiful estuary that is being restored by nature and expensive projects by scientists using local laborers and equipment.

Only 5% of the BC coast is estuary and we have one that is easily accessible by tourists who are drawn by the estuary and the filming industry.  Tourists visit and need a hotel, not housing.  Tourists bring in external dollars.  Tourists come in greater numbers than developing for one family per unit or home.  Tourists often bring their own accommodation and need only the necessities to be happily independent in natural surroundings.

If there is no investment in the estuary except to restore it, the value is greater than what can profit the few in the cruise ship business.

The question may be about recreational boaters but the lobby for dredging the mercury filled estuary is about the cruise ship business.


Old plans on old maps that must be changed.  That includes the road and rail to the Squamish Terminals. 

For those who choose not to know, the District of Squamish with these old plans has been the worst agent in the Squamish Estuary Management Plan.  From clear cut and burn to clear cut and build all the while ignoring the consequences.  From calling the stench of Woodfibre and FMC "the smell of money" to what, resurrecting the mercury from FMC in the estuary channels and calling it a recreation area. 

If those on Council have not the strength to oppose these bad old plans then a Council with strength must be elected Now.

To hear that the developers were allowed to do all the damage to the views, etc because the OCP is in review and the Policies are in review is proof that there needs to be a strong Council elected, a Council that has the strength to know simply right from wrong.


When the neighbors’ complaints are ignored and developers are then abusive with their attitudes when using their machines, with their garbage and then the residents are abusive toward the neighborhood with their dog walking practices it is a sign that Council should have heeded the opposition of the neighbors at the Public Hearings.


FMC and Woodfibre are gone with their profits and left the wounded for us to hospitalize and Howe Sound mostly dead. 


After 30 years of opposing Council and seeing the horrendous damage as a result of the profiteering by industry and developers I continue to oppose any development on or in the waterfront.


Perhaps the silt can be redirected from the rivers.  Better not to build in the path of the river as I quoted in 1982 and this truth is as strong and true today as it was millennium ago.


There are so many alternative ways to make money without the stench!  Ways that don’t interfere with nature like professionals and the electronic technologies that need areas zoned and buildings built in communities.  Buildings built with room for them to set up.


Squamish is evolving and Council must adapt the old plans to improve Squamish not destroy it for profiteers again.


Specific to Dredging and Mercury:

I have information on Dredging Protocols that are expensive, using core sampling.  Not the surface sampling after 15 years of silt build up.  CORE SAMPLING.  Core sampling would probably show the concentration of mercury is so extreme that to dredge it up is to resurrect a problem that we should be THANKFUL THE RIVERS OF LIFE HAVE BURIED THAT MERCURY FOR US.


Here’s the quoted info that was sent to Squamish Council:


To: – District of Squamish Staff and Council.

CC: – Health Canada


The Danger  Dredging  poses in Squamish

The following Criteria are various levels set for Mercury pollution found in sediments. These are both Provincial and Federal. The District of Squamish’s own Dredging protocol uses the highest of these values to determine when the “Dredging Protocol”  is used to safe guard the health of the Squamish Estuary and Howe Sound.

 -Sensitive Criteria             0.43

-CCME  Criteria                   0.70

– Ocean disposal Criteria   0.75

-Typical Criteria                   0.84


This is an interesting problem. Part of the Blind channel dredging does involve deepening the channel for boaters as well as a dredging of the mouth of the Stawamus River (a spawning river).


  All of this area is also part of the Squamish Estuary. It is not a matter of saying, "We will dredge here under Typical Criteria and 10 feet over here we will use Sensitive Criteria.


  Because a variety of organisms live in, or are in contact with, bed sediments, sediments can act as an important route of exposure to aquatic organisms, and therefore every effort should be put into place to minimize this effect when disturbing the ocean bottom during dredging. Enacting the dredging protocol would be one of these actions.


 Even the standards for Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, recognizes that adverse biological effects for Mercury in the sediments include lethality, reduced fertilization, and impaired development of early life stages of benthic organisms, and sets a probable effect level for Mercury in sediments at 0.70 for Marine/Estuarine, far below typical Criteria.


  Since the Squamish Estuary is among many other things a nursery for Fry who feed on benthic organisms,  it would only make sense to use the Sensitive Criteria and enable the dredging protocol to be put into effect.


  Keep in mind as well that this dredging plan is just the first on the books with plans for further dredging up the Blind channel as new developments come on line later next year.


  This is the first time dredging will occur since the Dredging protocols have been written. Now would be the time to set the bar , and clearly define things.

Surface grab sampling is the method currently being used to determine pollution levels of the Blind channel bottom.  Once dredging commences to predetermined depths it is for too late to address any potential outfalls that exceed criteria.


 Clearly we are talking about money.

Core sampling, plus throwing the dredging protocol costs onto that, would encourage anyone to lean towards Grab sampling results coupled with Typical Criteria level of 0.84.


Conclusion: –

 After many weeks of talks with both Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans and B.C. Ministry of Environment on the problem, it would seem that revisiting the District of Squamish’s Dredging Protocol would be warranted.

Two items need to be added to this document to ensure the practical implication of this excellent document to ensure the health of people and diverse Ecosystem we have been blessed to have at our doorstep.

Core Sampling: – this is the only sampling technique that works to show the true Mercury hazard and should be adopted as the standard.

Criteria level: – A reasonable Criteria level has to be set.  0.84 is just way to high and provides no safety net at all.

I would ask that all dredging plans be put on hold until this matter is resolved.


John Buchanan




We do try.



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