Coun. Andy Adams had a warning Tuesday night for a member of the Campbell River Flyfishers seeking approval from the province to reinstate the winter steelhead program at the Quinsam Hatchery.
Tom Craig made a presentation to council, outlining why and how the project would benefit the community but he was unable to provide a price tag for the program.
“There’s no question having a flourishing steelhead fishery in Campbell River would be a thing a lot of people would like to see,” said Adams, who was interested to know how much the project would cost. “Do you have any idea what the annual cost would be to do what you are proposing?”
Craig, who has already drafted a letter to Environment Minister Terry Lake, said he was under the impression that the money needed to feed the fingerlings is already accounted for.
He said Mike Gage of the Campbell River Salmon Foundation is willing to put up $10,000, while the Steelhead Society is committed to paying $2,000. Craig said other local businesses have also expressed interest in donating.
“I think Mike Gage of the Campbell River Salmon Foundation, he talked to it, and he seems to think the money would be there,” he said.
“I don’t know how much money would be needed to do it, I haven’t gone into this in large extent.
“I don’t know how much money would be needed to do it. (I’m) doing each step one at a time.”
Adams said it would serve Craig well to look into the costs before approaching the province.
“If you’re going to be writing letters to the ministry you should know what the numbers are,” Adams said. “It will go a long way further if you have the i’s dotted and t’s crossed if you have that information.”
Craig, who has the support of Quinsam Hatchery manager Dave Ewart, wants to rejuvenate the Quinsam River which once boasted runs of more than 2,000 fish.
Estimates now put the runs at just 200.
The plan is to kick start the run by releasing fry for two complete reproductive cycles, which is about eight years, and then leave the river to revert to natural reproduction.
The fingerlings would be raised in the hatchery and then transported by helicopter to the upper Quinsam River.
Craig said the program would also help the local economy by attracting visitors to come and fish the Campbell River.
Mayor Walter Jakeway asked Craig why the government won’t allow the program.
Craig said members of the Steelhead Society have told him the government is concerned with tampering.
“It’s from the past. They feel in some ways it will damage the integrity of the stocks,” Craig said.
“But there isn’t much stocks there left…so we’re not going to do any more damage.”
Craig believes the winter steelhead project could be as successful as the Pinks for the Pier program in which salmon are raised to be set free into the Campbell River, which he said brings a lot of tourists and money into the community.