Open letter to Environment Minister Mary Polak:
Thank you for your response to my letter this past summer.
In your reply, you outlined what the Province of B.C. is doing to protect us from an infestation of zebra and quagga mussels. None of this was new information, and all together, it is still not enough. You did recognize that “there is still work to be done.” I couldn’t agree more. With the expertise gained from a year of full-time research on this issue, I again urge you to act immediately and decisively.
Last week, news broke out of Manitoba that after only two years, Lake Winnipeg is already seeing an infestation of epic proportions. In the words of University of Winnipeg professor Dr. Eva Pip, as reported by Global News, “The problem is irreversible and in fact it’s a catastrophe, it’s a disaster. It’s very sad because all we have to look forward to now in Lake Winnipeg is a complete and eventual collapse of our ecosystem.” This is not unexpected news, but still it is an urgent reminder of the danger that B.C. faces.
In your letter, you spoke of a “perimeter defence” strategy to protect all of Western Canada and the Columbia Basin. The wisdom of this plan is clear, but it is still very far from completion.
Saskatchewan is doing practically nothing. Alberta has mandatory inspections at their Eastern border, but those inspections only run during regular working hours. A very real scenario still exists where a contaminated boat could cross through Alberta after the inspectors have gone home for the day, slip past one of B.C.’s “roving” teams, and launch in our waters. Until such time as this perimeter defence is fully in place, you must have an unbroken wall at our border.
Whether you are coordinating with other jurisdictions or not, a system of rendezvousing with potentially infested boats after they have entered B.C. is illogical and irresponsible. The only acceptable system for protecting our province is stopping and inspecting 100 per cent of boats before they enter our province.
When can we expect to see that in place?
Brynne Morrice, Vernon