Plans to restore shellfish harvesting in Coles Bay are picking up. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Plans to restore shellfish harvesting in Coles Bay are picking up. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Push on to revive decades-dormant North Saanich shellfish harvest

Contamination from septic systems a major hurdle facing Pauquachin First Nation

Efforts to restore shellfish harvesting on the northwest edge of the Saanich Peninsula are picking up.

A pending report from the Capital Regional District (CRD) about the current state of the septic service system near Coles Bay marks an important step in plans by the Pauquachin First Nation for North Saanich’s Coles Bay

The First Nation considers the closure of shellfish harvesting more than 20 years ago an infringement of its Douglas Treaty rights and an impact on its traditional food, according to a letter to the municipality. That letter also points to one of the central problems preventing the restoration of the harvest.

“It is understood that one of the upland bacterial sources that is influencing the closure comes from residential onsite septic systems,” it reads.

RELATED: Shellfish closure ordered after Qualicum Beach sewage leak

RELATED: Shellfish industry get funds to clean up Vancouver Island sites and beyond

One possible solution is the municipality joining the onsite sewage system service the CRD offers.

The initiative to restore shellfish harvesting dates back to at least 2015 when the CRD’s First Nations Relations Division facilitatied meetings with an alphabet soup of agencies. These meetings eventually led to the Pauquachin First Nation request of to re-focus efforts at Coles Bay.

“Of all the other beaches on the Saanich Peninsula, Coles Bay has a much higher potential of re-opening,” a North Saanich staff report reads, quoting CRD staff.

Currently, Coles Bay is subject to a year-round, permanent ban on bivalve shellfish harvesting due to contamination.

“When an area is officially ‘closed’, it is both illegal and unsafe to harvest shellfish from that area,” reads a warning. “It is your responsibility to know where you are planning to harvest and to find out if the species you wish to harvest is open in that area.”

North Saanich staff have also warned against high expectations.

“I think it would be a bit of an understatement to say that this a bit of a complicated initiative,” said Eymond Toupin, North Saanich’s director of infrastructure services. “There are lots of level of government that are involved and lots of different folks who are participating to see this happen.

“It is one of those things that might take some time.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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

Just Posted

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing leads to stabbing in Nanaimo

Suspect arrested on Gabriola Island an hour after incident Wednesday, Feb. 24

Submissions are open for Vancouver Island Regional Library’s new online arts and literature magazine, ‘Sea and Cedar.’ (Bulletin file photo)
Submissions sought for library’s new digital arts and literature publication

‘Sea and Cedar’ magazine an initiative of Nanaimo Harbourfront Library

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools. (News Bulletin photo)
Bear seen at Park Avenue Elementary School field in Nanaimo

Students being advised to walk in groups and avoid the bushes

A battery electric-hybrid ferry, pictured here, is expected to make its way to Vancouver Island in late 2021, says B.C. Ferries. (Submitted photo)
Hybrid ferry for Gabriola-Nanaimo route launches in shipyard in Europe

Two hybrid vessels to replace MV Quinsam by early 2022, says B.C. Ferries

Vancouver Island Symphony conductor Pierre Simard is releasing his new synthwave album ‘Plandemic’ on March 5. (Photo courtesy Olivia Simard)
Vancouver Island Symphony conductor releasing side-project EP of electronic music

Pierre Simard, recording as Plan Omega, presents ‘Plandemic’

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

A BC Ferries worker out of Swartz Bay has tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Swartz Bay ferry worker confirmed to have COVID-19

Employees in direct contact with worker now isolating

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Nanaimo’s Joanne Secord is a quarterfinalist in Inked Magazine’s Cover Model Search contest. (Janayh Wright Photography)
50-year-old Nanaimo mom hopes her tattoos will earn her a magazine cover shoot

Joanne Secord on cusp of semifinals in Inked Magazine contest

Nanaimo Courthouse. (News Bulletin file photo)
Motorist sentenced to two years for dangerous driving causing death on Gabriola Island

William Goosman pleaded guilty last fall in connection with incident that killed Jay Dearman

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Most Read