Important permit approvals signal major progress
This week we are celebrating several major milestones: the approval of the federal and provincial permits needed for the Restore the Shore Project (aka the Central Estuary Restoration Project) to proceed, and the initiation of our on-the-ground work for this phase of the project.
This critical phase for Restore the Shore builds on 20 years of habitat restoration in the Squamish River estuary, and is informed by the Squamish River Watershed Society’s monitoring program to address the ongoing devastating impacts of the training berm and rail spur line in the Estuary.
The project’s most recent permits come from the Province of BC, under the Water Sustainability Act, BC Wildlife Act and Transport Canada, pursuant to the Canadian Navigable Waters Act. This means that the provincial and federal governments reviewed our carefully considered plans to modify a 300-metre section of the training berm, along with the scientific research that informs those plans, and deemed the project acceptable with regards to any impacts. This initial modification of 300 metres is the first step in a process to modify approximately 900 metres of the berm to help restore the Estuary’s valuable ecological function.
We’ve also been making headway in the Estuary itself! If you’ve recently visited, you may have seen the preparatory work on the berm road, and the closure of the most southerly portion of the road along the training berm will be closed for the safety of the community members who use the area. The first step in the modification process is to build a revetment (a rock-armored sloped embankment) at the north end of what will become the Windsport Island.
This signals the start of the physical work that will be undertaken in this phase of the project to restore over 144 hectares of the Squamish River estuary - equivalent to the size of over 200 soccer fields - and honour the profound importance of reconciliation with the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), the original stewards and knowledge-keepers of this land.
Restore the Shore has been a long and challenging nearly 5-year process for everyone involved. This significant step forward is a testament to our community’s open and progressive spirit; it is amazing that we have come this far. We greatly appreciate the patience and participation of everyone involved including: Squamish Terminals, Squamish Windsport Society, the District of Squamish, provincial and federal ministries in particular MFLNRD and DFO, our MP, MLA and municipal council, many community groups and citizens who have participated in this process and who all work to help make our town more resilient and diverse. It is this incredible collective effort that helps make significant habitat restoration and reconciliation projects like this one possible.
Looking for more information on the improvements we’re making to the health of the Estuary? Check out the FAQ section of RestoreTheShore.ca, or view visuals and our detailed modelling in the 2021 final report for the Central Estuary Restoration project.
2022 is off to a swimming start for the Restore the Shore project, and for the salmon, birds, bears, whales and other wildlife who will benefit from a healthier estuarine home. Stay tuned for more updates as restoration progresses!