Thursday April 19, 2012

Federal Government News

Ditching Dilemma

Strahl holds roundtable to identify issues like creek setbacks for report to DFO

Released by Robert Pearsall, PA to MP Mark Strahl


ark Strahl, MP for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, hosted a successful roundtable discussion regarding fisheries habitat and Species at Risk Act (SARA) regulations on Wednesday. He was joined by his colleagues, MP Randy Kamp (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries) and MP Michelle Rempel (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment) and the Mayors of Chilliwack, Hope, Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs, as well as other local officials.

"As I've met with local mayors, councillors and officials, one of the common themes that continually comes up is frustration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and concerns about SARA legislation," said Strahl. "Our government has signalled a desire to bring a common sense approach to DFO and SARA regulations, and I wanted my colleagues to hear firsthand how the current heavy handed approach of the bureaucracy is affecting my constituents."

An example of the problems with the current regulatory system included a municipality receiving approval to clean out half of a drainage ditch but refusal for the other half. The municipality had to fight the bureaucracy to convince them that they needed to clean the whole ditch in order to have any benefit to the project.

In another example, concern was raised that because of new creek side setback regulations imposed under SARA, an existing home backing onto a creek could not be rebuilt if it burned down, even if it was to be rebuilt on the existing foundation.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Hon. Keith Ashfield, has recently stated that DFO's fish habitat policy is under review. Strahl will present him with the results of the roundtable discussion, and will also share them with Environment Minister, Peter Kent, who is responsible for the Species at Risk Act.

Strahl said the Government was not abandoning environmental fisheries protection, but would bring balance to the current system.

"I've spoken with the respective Ministers about ditch maintenance, fish habitat and the Salish Sucker and Nooksack Dace SARA process," said Strahl. "I'm pleased that Parliamentary Secretaries Kamp and Rempel were here to receive the message from my constituents as well and I look forward to working will all of them to bring a balanced, common sense approach to environmental protection and fish habitat policies."


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