DFO urged to keep community advisor

Fisheries: Council writes department to stress importance of position to Campbell River

City council is asking Fisheries and Oceans Canada to continue staffing a key advisor position in the Campbell River area.

Staff at Fisheries and Oceans Nanaimo are in the process of creating a pool of candidates that may be used to staff several Community Advisor vacancies scattered throughout B.C., including in Campbell River.

But Terri Martin, the city’s environmental coordinator, said there’s no guarantee the position will be filled.

“Even after the hiring pool is created, DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) head office in Ottawa still needs to approve re-staffing these key positions and continuation of the Community Advisory program is not secure,” Martin wrote in a report to city council. “As DFO is currently reviewing the positions, this is an opportune time for council to provide a letter of support for the importance of the Community Advisor role in Campbell River for the stewardship community and city.”

Council agreed to write the letter at its regular council meeting Nov. 4.

In Campbell River, the Community Advisor works closely with Greenways Land Trust and the various stream stewardship groups. The position is the main point of contact between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and local environmental groups.

There are four Community Advisor positions that are either currently vacant or are expected to be vacant due to retiring staff in the near future.

Martin said it has taken two years to get approval from Fisheries and Oceans to create the pool of qualified candidates to potentially fill the vacant positions.

In the Campbell River area, there have been four different acting and intermittent Community Advisors since 2012.

Martin said the position plays an important role in supporting both the city and local stewardship groups in habitat restoration and protection projects.

“The DFO Community Advisor position helps to streamline stewardship projects and ensure technical and regulatory requirements are met,” Martin said.

“The position helps to save city staff time in reviewing restoration and capital projects impacting fish habitat and brings expertise that extends beyond the realm of city staff knowledge on fisheries expectations and requirements.”

 

Other roles of the Community Advisor

 

  • Helps secure funds for stewardship projects and any federal and provincial approvals required.
  • Liaison with property owners during stewardship and city project work.
  • Organize community events including Ocean’s Day and emcees the city’s annual Stewardship Awards during the Haig-Brown Festival.
  • Shares information with city staff and council and assists the city in determining habitat protection and enhancement requirements for capital projects.
  • Provides training opportunities for volunteers.
  • Chairs monthly stewardship meetings between all stewardship groups, Greenways Land Trust and the city’s environmental coordinator.