National Marine Conservation Area designation would be a boost for the region

The Mid Island Sustainability and Stewardship Initiative is seeking the public's support to include the Nanaimo estuary in the NMCA.

Editor:

An open letter to all residents of Nanaimo and the Mid Island Region

You may recall that last September we raised attention to the possibility of extending the proposed Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) into the Nanaimo River estuary – stretching around Gabriola Island from it’s present boundary.

MISSI  believes the NMCA designation would be an exceptional boost to the City and region, helping to restore the estuary while providing major benefits as an economic driver for the mid island. A decision on boundaries will be made within six months by Canadian and BC governments.

Following recent, and encouraging, correspondence from the federal Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Peter Kent, we’ve proceeded to make a number of requests for support for this northern extension to the NMCA. This includes requests to the City of Nanaimo’s Mayor and Council, the Board of Directors of the Regional District of Nanaimo, the Islands Trust, and to Chief White, for the attention of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

We are also reaching out to local organizations and individuals who may have interest. Public involvement and support for including the Nanaimo estuary in the NMCA is absolutely essential for success, and of course very welcome. We will be looking to form a Committee of interested parties, by mid-March, as the proposal gathers momentum.

As plans proceed then we look forward to co-hosting public meetings with other organizations that will encourage consideration and options for the Nanaimo estuary — and Canada’s marine environment. We hope to welcome the minister or his representatives to Nanaimo this spring, and to assist in scheduling private and public meetings that advance this proposal and the benefits it will bring to the region.

As a resident you may wish to contact your representative, to express your thoughts on this proposal for inclusion of the Nanaimo estuary in the NMCA. We expect City Council to address our letter at their Feb. 27 meeting, RDN Directors to consider it on the 28th, and Islands Trust to review it on March 6.

We have posted a map of the proposal, and related information, on our website. We invite you to contact us if you are interested in this initiative — and by all means to please let us know if you have additional suggestions on how we may support a NMCA designation for the Nanaimo estuary.

Laurie Gourlay

President, MISSI