Letter: Mussel risk too great

If we miss one boat, we will have allowed a permanent and devastating change to B.C.’s freshwater.

Dear Minister Heyman,

It was a pleasure to meet with your Assistant Deputy Ministers, Jennifer McGuire and Jim Standen, on Aug. 22, regarding the imminent threat that zebra and quagga mussels pose to British Columbia’s freshwater ecology, native fish species, infrastructure, economy, tourism, beach quality, water quality, property values, hydro dams, drinking water, and all forms of freshwater recreation.

Your assistant deputy ministers agreed that despite the foundational boat inspection program in place, we are not at 100 per cent protection. Far from it, in fact. Without 24-hour stations at Dawson Creek, Mt. Robson, Radium, and Crowsnest, it is a mathematical inevitability that a mussel-infested boat will enter B.C. during the hours of the night, and will infest B.C. with zebra and/or quagga mussels.

As your assistant deputy ministers explained, leaving those four inter-provincial border crossings unmonitored at night is a calculated risk.

That is not acceptable. The “risk” in this “calculated risk” is far too great. If we miss one boat, we will have allowed a permanent and devastating change to B.C.’s freshwater.

You have a successful 24-hour station at Golden. There is no reason it can’t be replicated at the other 4 locations. If there is a way forward to more protection, we must proceed as soon as possible.

The primary obstacle is money, so let’s solve that. I have put forward three ideas: 1) a new $5 fee attached to the BC fishing license 2) a new mandatory boater registration process with a $10 fee 3) a $3 yearly surcharge for BC Hydro customers.

These dollar amounts are estimates. Regardless, these measures would bring in the necessary additional funds. Some people will be slightly annoyed to have to pay these fees, but once they understand the need, they will gladly part with some pocket change to protect where they play and protect B.C.

In summary, there is a clear way forward here, and I can see no reason to not take it, with all haste. Let’s close the gaps. Isn’t B.C. worth it?

Brynne Morrice,

Protect Our Freshwater, Society for the Protection of Kal Lake

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