In 2017, applications were submitted to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource and Rural Development to build bridges to Herrling and Carey Islands in the gravel reach of the Fraser River known as the “Heart of the Fraser” between Hope and Mission.
Carey and Herrling Islands were purchased from Kruger Pulp and Paper by developers that own construction and farming companies who successfully applied for them to be re-zoned from tree farming to agricultural land.
The new landowners have applied for the bridge permits to allow for the development of large-scale, intensive agriculture. As of June 2019, the bridge permit for Herrling Island has been denied. We must ensure the bridge permit for Carey Island is also denied.
Because the islands are designated ALR land, the Streamside Protection Regulations that protect the riparian zones do not apply as agricultural land is exempt. As such no permits were needed for the extensive land clearing that has taken place since the islands were purchased.
The Heart of the Fraser is a dynamic and diverse ecosystem that cannot afford to be bridged, diked, drained and destroyed for any type of development. These islands support numerous native species of fish. The Heart of the Fraser is a nursery for billions of baby salmon every year, and prime spawning habitat for their parents, as well as for the rare and endangered white sturgeon. Especially during times of flooding, they are able to take the extra water, allowing the river room to move and spread out inundating the landscape thereby protecting downstream communities from flooding.
Carey Island is within the traditional territories of the Cheam, Kwaw’Kwaw’Apilt, Skwah and Sts’ailes First Nations. Herrling Island is within the traditional territories of Chawathil, Cheam, Kwaw’Kwaw’Apilt, Peters, Popkum, Shxw’ōwhámel, Skwah and Union Bar First Nations. These nations are currently participating in a government to government referrals process that only allows them to identify issues with the immediate footprint of the bridge project and not future implications.
Too much of our natural wealth in this region has been degraded by development. We need to save the last precious habitat in the Heart of the Fraser.