Local Rezoning Plan Poses Risk to Threatened Species where Award Winning Environmental Centre has Worked to Conserve for over 20 years
Grant recipients of the provincial government’s conservation and economic stimulus program for wetland protection upset with proposed plan affecting precise areas tasked to enhance
SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA (July 7, 2021) — A Rocha Canada, a non-profit environmental organization and recipient of the Surrey Board of Trade’s Environment and Business Award and Agriculture Leadership Award, voices opposition to the South Campbell Heights Special Study Area (“Study Area”) to rezone land from ‘rural’ to ‘employment’, posing a habitat risk for the 600 acres surrounding A Rocha’s Surrey-based Brooksdale Environmental Centre.
The lands at risk include the Little Campbell/Tatalu River and surrounding sensitive habitat, home to a myriad of threatened species and special wildlife habitat which A Rocha Canada has been working to study and restore since 2001.
“The Little Campbell River supports five significant runs of Pacific Salmon as well as the endangered Salish Sucker, which for almost four decades was thought to be extirpated until it was discovered by an A Rocha intern in 2011,” said Christy Juteau, National Conservation Science Director at A Rocha Canada. “The river’s most productive spawning and rearing habitat exists mainly within and directly downstream from the proposed large-scale industrialization and will ultimately affect Boundary Bay and Semiahmoo First Nations. As one of the most endangered rivers in BC, serious consideration must be taken while reviewing the potential impact of this revised plan.”
“The rezoning plans risk being completely counterproductive to the work we have been undertaking for the past 20 years to improve water quality issues of the river,” said Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell.
Located near the centre of the Study Area, A Rocha Canada has operated at a designated heritage site since 2010, providing ongoing conservation work, a community shared agriculture farm program, and environmental education to school-aged children, at-risk youth and the public at large.
Concerns surrounding the impacts of the proposed plan include: premature submission of the revised plan to Metro Vancouver before recommended groundwater and archeological studies are completed, water quality impacts, groundwater impacts, biodiversity value, agricultural values, and food security.
In March 2021, A Rocha Canada received grants from the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to aid the Little Campbell River, which is now being threatened by the proposed plan.
“The irony of recently being issued a provincial grant for the specific purposes of wetland protection only to have the precise areas jeopardized by industrialization is truly disheartening,” said David Anderson, Co-Director of A Rocha Brooksdale Environmental Centre.
“We urge all those who care about the conservation and health of A Rocha’s Environmental Centre, the Little Campbell River, Semiahmoo Bay, and Surrey’s rural Hazelmere neighborhood to send a letter of concern to Surrey Planning to voice their opposition to the change in land designation away from rural, the extension of Metro Vancouver’s Urban Containment Boundary south of 20th avenue, the erosion of protection on important conservation areas and forests, and the rationale that there is “urgent” need for employment lands that are commercial/industrial.”
Letters of concern can be sent to the city clerk “Attention Mayor and Council” at email@example.com from July 13 to July 26, ahead of the plan’s potential second reading by council which may allow for public engagement.
About A Rocha Canada
A Rocha is a non-profit international Christian organization working in 20 countries worldwide engaging in scientific research, environmental education, community-based conservation projects and sustainable agriculture. A Rocha Canada operates environmental centres in Surrey, BC, East Braintree, MB, and Hamilton, ON. Learn more at arocha.ca.
National Communications Officer
A Rocha Canada