EDITORIAL: There’s a push to get the Salish Sea designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Just what effect would the designation have on shipping, fishing, oil tankers, etc.?

It was one of those dozens upon dozens of e-mails we get every day, our fingers hovering over the delete button because we really don’t need to spend time on stories about olives in California or the latest gripe from taxpayers in Scarborough.

Whoa, step away from that delete button. This e-mail suggested a group is trying to create interest in designating the Salish Sea, that body of water we hug and love in Parksville Qualicum Beach, as a World Heritage Site.

There are 1,052 such sites in the world, 18 in Canada, including Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, Dinosaur Provincial Park and the Rideau Canal. World Heritage sites are areas designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with the goal of preserving places of cultural, natural and historic significance.

Sounds good on the surface. The Salish Sea (Puget Sound and both the Georgia and Juan De Fuca straits) is unique, biologically diverse and important culturally and scientifically.

Red flags shot up immediately, however. Would this designation essentially shut the Salish Sea down to business, as in fishing, transportation and yes, oil tankers? These waters have been important business and food-gathering routes since, well, since there were people, and long before white folk. Was this effort some end-around, a clever ploy by environmentalists to stop the expansion of oil-tanker traffic before any new pipeline even reached the coast?

Laurie Gourley is with the Salish Sea Trust and he put some of our fears aside.

“It (the UNESCO designation) does not stop commercial activities,” Gourley said last week. “In fact, we expect a little flak from the anti-tanker interests.”

Attaining World Heritage Site status is a 10-year process. UNESCO’s latest round of applications are due at the end of January, 2017, a short four months away. The Salish Sea Trust aims to get its information to Parks Canada (which must make the formal application to UNESCO) by December. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been encouraging Canadians to come up with applications for World Heritage Sites.

Gourlay said the input of First Nations people is key to the application. He is encouraging all people to get involved and learn more. For more information, e-mail salishseatrust@shaw.ca.

— Editorial by John Harding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey councillors wary of ‘streamlining’ environmental development permits process

Mayor Doug McCallum notes B.C. government only agency that can issue environment permit

Lost season ‘disappointing’, but White Rock Renegades eager to play outside competition

South Surrey softball organization president hopes inter-city play is a few weeks away

City buys century-old East Delta church

St. Stephen’s Church to be renovated and restored, used as community services and programming space

Oh baby, what a birthday gift: $2.8M raised to help Surrey boy with rare disease

‘We are very thankful to everybody,’ Aryan Deol’s father says

COVID-19 exposure at Surrey rave prompts warning from Fraser Health

Party was held at Royal Beauty Supply in Whalley

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Salmon arrive in larger numbers at Big Bar landslide

Arrival follows historic hihg-water levels that halted migration runs

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Most Read