COWICHAN WATERSHED

ALISTAIR MacGREGOR

In the House

“Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, has been advocating for the construction of a new weir for years. “ Cowichan Valley Citizen, August 28 2019

On August 26, and after years of work and collaboration with the Cowichan Watershed Board, which is co-chaired by the CVRD and Cowichan Tribes,  I was pleased to receive news of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard’s announcement of $4.08 million in joint-federal/provincial funding from the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund federal for the development of detailed engineering designs for a new weir, as well as strategies for the removal of the existing weir.

This is an extremely important first step for those who have been fighting for the protection of the river for decades.  Upgrading the Cowichan weir is necessary for the long-term health of the Cowichan River, especially in the context of climate change modelling for our region.

This is the form of funding that I have long been calling on the federal government for, and I could not be prouder of the efforts brought forth by constituents throughout this process.

Protecting our wild Pacific salmon has been a top priority for me and the NDP. I have risen in the House of Commons countless times to ask the Liberal government to do more to protect our wild Pacific salmon by increasing habitat protection, providing funding for infrastructure adaption projects, and moving open-net fish farms from wild salmon migration routes to land-based closed-containment ones.

I know that our local wild salmon depend on the health of the Cowichan River. That is why I have been asking for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to commit to provide federal funding to raise the Lake Cowichan Weir.

As the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, I know just how much this infrastructure project is needed to restore an adequate flow rate to the Cowichan River to maintain healthy and diverse wild salmon populations. A receding river will leave many salmon eggs and young fry stranded, which will affect future adult populations. I witnessed this first-hand when I was out on the river rescuing Coho and Chinook fry from pools off of the main river body.

From the onset of my first term, this issue has been a key priority for me and many constituents concerned with the long-term health of our watershed. In 2017, I rose six times in the House of Commons to table petitions signed by hundreds of my constituents, calling on the federal government to immediately fund the raising of the Cowichan River Weir to a level necessary to ensure enough water flow in the Cowichan River. The government’s responses can be seen on my petition page.

As a follow-up, I wrote to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard, saying:

“The Liberal government has promised to protect our communities from the challenges of climate change and grow the economy by making significant investments in green infrastructure. The communities and fish habitat that depend on the Cowichan River can wait no longer for this promise to be fulfilled.”

Throughout my mandate, I have written numerous columns on this issue, including my joint column, in 2018, with MLA Sonia Furstenau, entitled: Cowichan demonstrating what climate change adaptation looks like, and my 2019 article: A Federal Perspective on Raising the Cowichan Weir.

On more than twenty occasions, during my first four years in Parliament, I have brought the need for building a new weir at Lake Cowichan before the House of Commons, forcing the government to respond to the needs of the people of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford. I am pleased to see that our efforts are paying off.

With your support, I look forward to continuing in my federal role to see this important project through to completion to protect our Cowichan watershed.

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