Complaints about plans for Colony Farm
A fish hatchery proposed for Colony Farm as part of the environmental remediation effort for damage caused by the construction of the new Port Mann Bridge is being panned by members of the Burke Mountain Naturalists.
Elaine Golds, vice-president of the organization, said Metro Vancouver’s proposal merely switches bird habitat to fish habitat and fails to add to the overall ecological system.
“We don’t think that is compensation at all,” she said. “This is just a switcheroo.”
Staffers with the regional district have already received the go-ahead from the Metro Vancouver board and are now applying for building permits with the city of Port Coquitlam. A public input session on the matter came before the municipality’s social inclusion committee last night, held after The Tri-City News’ press deadline.
Golds, who was planning to speak at the meeting, said she also has concerns with the impact the construction of the hatchery would have on the migratory birds that use the area.
Bird counts have found that many unusual species use the park as a staging area where they feed on grain to gain strength for the strenuous migration south. The work Metro Vancouver is proposing would take place during that period, Golds said.
“There will be huge impacts on the birds that use that area,” Golds said. “The equipment will be compacting the soil and it is just not an appropriate activity in a park.”
Golds (The Tri-City News’ Green Scene columnist) is calling for remediation for the hatchery — which is already designed as remediation for the Port Mann bridge — adding that there are numerous projects in the area that could be undertaken as compensation.
But Frieda Schade, the central area manager of regional parks with Metro Vancouver, disagrees with Golds’ assessment of the situation. She told The Tri-City News that a fish hatchery in Colony Farm would add to the diversity of the ecosystem, something she believes will benefit the birds that use the park.
“It may end up adding species to the park and accommodate a larger number of birds,” she said. “We are making the park more diverse, which is good for the ecology of the park.”
When making the decision, Schade outlined the tightrope Metro officials must walk. She said there are stakeholders such as Golds who are angered by the disruption birds will face while on the other side there are groups that believe that even with a new hatchery not enough is being done for the fish.
“It is unfortunate that there are people that disagree,” she said, “but I am glad that they care about the park and I do respect their opinion.”
Schade said that efforts have been made to limit the impact construction will have on migratory birds. Work will commence after Aug. 1, which is the provincially recognized end of nesting season, and will continue until the fields get wet in the fall. Working on wet ground, she said, can cause soil degradation.
When the work is complete, more than 2.8 hectares of the 258-hectare park will be converted to hatchery land, with channels and two ponds, which will serve as a winter habitat for small salmonids. Native plants, trees and shrubs will also be added to the area.