Plans to restore shellfish harvesting in Coles Bay are picking up. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Plans to restore shellfish harvesting in Coles Bay are picking up. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Push on to revive decades-dormant North Saanich shellfish harvest

Contamination from septic systems a major hurdle facing Pauquachin First Nation

Efforts to restore shellfish harvesting on the northwest edge of the Saanich Peninsula are picking up.

A pending report from the Capital Regional District (CRD) about the current state of the septic service system near Coles Bay marks an important step in plans by the Pauquachin First Nation for North Saanich’s Coles Bay

The First Nation considers the closure of shellfish harvesting more than 20 years ago an infringement of its Douglas Treaty rights and an impact on its traditional food, according to a letter to the municipality. That letter also points to one of the central problems preventing the restoration of the harvest.

“It is understood that one of the upland bacterial sources that is influencing the closure comes from residential onsite septic systems,” it reads.

RELATED: Shellfish closure ordered after Qualicum Beach sewage leak

RELATED: Shellfish industry get funds to clean up Vancouver Island sites and beyond

One possible solution is the municipality joining the onsite sewage system service the CRD offers.

The initiative to restore shellfish harvesting dates back to at least 2015 when the CRD’s First Nations Relations Division facilitatied meetings with an alphabet soup of agencies. These meetings eventually led to the Pauquachin First Nation request of to re-focus efforts at Coles Bay.

“Of all the other beaches on the Saanich Peninsula, Coles Bay has a much higher potential of re-opening,” a North Saanich staff report reads, quoting CRD staff.

Currently, Coles Bay is subject to a year-round, permanent ban on bivalve shellfish harvesting due to contamination.

“When an area is officially ‘closed’, it is both illegal and unsafe to harvest shellfish from that area,” reads a warning. “It is your responsibility to know where you are planning to harvest and to find out if the species you wish to harvest is open in that area.”

North Saanich staff have also warned against high expectations.

“I think it would be a bit of an understatement to say that this a bit of a complicated initiative,” said Eymond Toupin, North Saanich’s director of infrastructure services. “There are lots of level of government that are involved and lots of different folks who are participating to see this happen.

“It is one of those things that might take some time.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From left are Campbell River Food Bank volunteers Darlane Davis, Pat Carville and Donnie Earles. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Keeping food out of the landfill just might save the planet

Food waste is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and it doesn’t have to be

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

(File photo)
Campbell River’s sewer system is at capacity for southernmost residents

City says no more homes can be hooked into the sewer system at the south end at this point

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Wildfire burning in remote area near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating cause, but confirms it is human-caused

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Paid sick leave for ‘hard-hit’ workers left out of provincial budget: BCGEU

‘For recovery to be equitable it requires supports for workers, not just business,’ says union president Laird Cronk

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read