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REPORTING · 6th September 2013
Walter McFarlane
Rick Flegel addressed City Council on Clio Bay on Monday, September 3rd. He asked them for their support in stopping the proposed dumping of clay in Clio Bay. He explained he is a long-time resident.

“I’ve used Clio Bay as a recreational area, fished in Clio Bay, crabbed in Clio Bay and I’ve also taken kids, grandkids down there. If you own a small boat, it’s a place you can stop in when the weather turns rough. You pull in, get out of the wind and just relax. Clio Bay is a quiet Bay,” said Flegel.

He told Council when he heard about this, he did not believe it could happen. He acknowledged there was a reason for the clay, to cover up the logs, bark and debris. However, Flago explained Clio Bay was a habitat for sea life.

The amount of clay was also a concern for him. He wanted to know if it was going to be just a dump truck load or if it would be more. He wanted to know how much of it would leach out into the Douglas Channel.

“How long will this thing be closed? It will never be the same. We lost the West Side, it looks like we’re losing the East Side,” said Flegel.

He talked about how he used to tie the boat to the logs there and fish with the children for flounder. He expressed the recovery of the bay could take years and years.

“This is a bay that we should keep the way it is,” said Flago. “I still fish out in the front, for halibut and salmon and what have you and I think a lot of other people do too.”

He wanted to know if the clay could be dumped somewhere else.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan stated the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was coming to speak to Council. Councillor Phil Germuth also had a report which he was going to deliver later in the meeting. However, with Council’s blessing, he was allowed to give it following Flegel’s presentation.

Germuth said there were two things he wanted to discuss: location and ecosystem.

“In the Fall of 2011, Kitimat LNG put out a community update letter, and in that letter, it stated: ‘As a result, Kitimat LNG is applying for a permit from Environment Canada to dispose of the organic sediments at sea, 2 kilometres off shore from Bish Cove, in an area not traditionally used for fishing and away from most local boat activity. The recommended site was chosen after consulting with the Haisla Nation,’” said Germuth.

He expressed they had the right idea, staying away from boating and fishing. However, at Clio Bay, they are not far away from boating and fishing. He expressed there was a safety aspect as well. Germuth asked Kitimat LNG why they abandoned that site and he was told it was public feedback.

Germuth explained there was a paper from Chevron saying the decomposing logs have impacted the bay and hampered it’s ecosystem including fish and marine life. Recently, he had an opportunity to look at some of their images.

“A number of years ago, there were marine biologists doing a study of various areas of the Douglas Channel including Clio Bay,” said Germuth. “The cameras used for this were of very high resolution, in colour and the images were so clear, one could see the colours of the stripes on a fish only a couple of inches long. While viewing the monitors, those present commented on just how diverse the amount of life that was flourishing within the sunken logs. In effect, those logs had actually created a reef where, like any other reef, an ecosystem was being sustained.”

He expressed he was looking forward to the presentation from the proponent.

Germuth concluded with a letter he had received from a member of the Haisla Nation, a fisherman who had used the bay his whole life. He explained the letter contained a description of the types of wildlife sustained by the Bay.

“He said: ‘In closing there is a very healthy ecosystem in Clio Bay. It’s very unique,” said Germuth.

Monaghan expressed Council has some sympathy for what he is saying because they have all been to Clio Bay. She expressed it was a good place to go boating.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff reminded Council that they had made a motion to invite Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Chevron and Apache to explain to Council and the public about what they are doing and how they got to where they are.

Councillor Corinne Scott expressed she was looking forward to that meeting but wanted to know if the Ministry of Environment were invited as well. She wanted to know if Methane Gas would be created by dumping the clay on the organic material. She had a lot of questions and made a motion to ask whomever is responsible for the environment in Clio Bay to speak to Council as well.

Feldoff asked for staff to report on who has jurisdiction in this case. Councillor Mary Murphy agreed. She also wanted to know why there were two conflicting reports, one that says you can catch fish in Clio Bay and one which says you cannot.

“I know that there are logs and chains and everything else in there which has polluted that whole area and I know that logging and housing of log booms is a huge issue and I know that this is not an LNG issue, it was way before LNG came in and they were looking at ways to rejuvenate and rebuild that whole area,” said Murphy.

She suggested inviting the Haisla to talk to Council about what the plan is for that area. Germuth added the Ministry of the Environment might have information on Methane. Feldhoff amended the motion to invite the Haisla. The motion was called and carried.

Flegel stated Bish Cove used to be the jewel of the Douglas Channel. Now it is gone. He did not wish to lose another one.