Banner Photo: Sunset in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. (Credit: Rich Duncan)
The full report includes updates on past recommended actions as well as detailing new recommended actions, where applicable. Not all actions here are specifically listed within articles; however, after compiling and assessing actions, it was apparent that higher-level recommendations were necessary. This action plan summarizes actions into broad themes to provide an overview and focus on implementation of actions.
Action 1: Increase knowledge of the local area and species through research
1. Conduct baseline studies and ongoing monitoring of key indicator species and habitats to guide conservation actions.
2. Conduct ongoing monitoring of the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification to support adaptation and action.
3. Address key knowledge gaps that develop as knowledge increases.
4. Improve availability and sharing of data.
5. Increase participation and engagement of First Nations knowledge holders in Western science.
Action 2: Protect and restore marine species, habitats and ecosystem services
1. Create and implement a coordinated strategy for managing growth (population, tourism, development growth) sustainably throughout the Sound, to reduce impacts on the marine environment.
2. Increase the proportion of area protected within the Sound, with a particular focus on beach spawning habitat and critical habitats.
3. Work with the Federal, Provincial, First Nations and local governments to refine Bill C-64 to clarify the laws applied to abandoned, wrecked or problem vessels so location (on land or at sea), marine debris and waste management issues arising are covered.
4. Reduce entry of pollutants into the marine environment (e.g., plastics and microplastics, harmful chemicals and wastewater).
Action 3: Increase awareness and education and ensure consistent messaging on environmental issues
1. Work with First Nations and local governments to increase education and understanding of critical environmental issues, such as climate change, within municipal staff. Ensure key resources are shared between local governments and have uniform messaging.
2. Increase education and awareness around environmental knowledge and best practices. Include Traditional Knowledge in these education opportunities, and where applicable, ensure they are taught by Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw/Squamish Nation members.
3. Increase opportunities for Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw/Squamish Nation members to connect to Traditional Knowledge in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. Further meaningful reconciliation efforts are needed.
4. Continue to work collaboratively on reconciliation with First Nations.
Action 4: Drive high-level change using official channels (e.g., guideline, policy, bylaw) appropriate to the circumstances
1. Implement appropriate regulations to curtail actions that are detrimental to the environment (e.g., pesticides, pollutants, boating, development).
2. Strengthen protections for vulnerable ecosystem components including legal protection, e.g., Important Bird Areas.
3. Explore the option of citizens or First Nations working with government agencies (e.g., a ranger program or something akin to the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Program).
Action 5: Financially support conservation actions and ensure stricter enforcement
1. Strategically fund priority projects for protection of vulnerable species and restoration of critical habitats.
2. Support ongoing, and new, long-term data collection initiatives.
3. Allocate resources to clean-up activities (e.g., wrecked, problem and abandoned vessels; plastics and contaminants; shoreline cleanups and appropriate disposal or recycling, especially after storm events).
4. Incentivize transitions towards environmentally friendly practices and products, e.g., a zero carbon economy.
5. Commit more resources to enforcement.
Action 6: Collect long-term data to identify trends, support decision making, and evaluate the outcome of actions taken
1. Conduct long-term observations of key species and habitats, and potential hazards (e.g., pollutants).
2. Make information easily available to support decision making, e.g., through the Marine Reference Guide.
3. Create a centralized hub to make group information and data easily accessible and searchable, to increase group participation and data use.
Action 7: Decrease greenhouse gas emissions and move towards zero carbon municipalities to align with recommended reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, e.g., IPCC, Paris agreement, Copenhagen accord.
1. Invest in efficient, regular public transit options in the Sea to Sky corridor.
2. Invest in renewable energy and green infrastructure.
3. Where not already done, local governments should declare a climate emergency to enable council and staff to dedicate the resources required to immediately reduce communitywide GHG emissions.
4. Conduct a baseline GHG emission inventory for each community to identify the largest emitters, with ongoing monitoring and reporting of community-wide emissions beginning in 2020 to track success.
5. Work with large businesses to advise on how to decrease their carbon footprint.
6. Create a climate action plan to prioritize policies and actions that will be most effective at reducing community-wide GHG emissions. Identify challenges and opportunities and establish key evaluation criteria to evaluate success.
Action Plan Leadership
Subsequent to the release of the 2017 report, the Ocean Watch Task Force (OWTF) was created to implement the previous Action Plan. In 2019, the OWTF created a Strategic Plan to guide local governments, fulfilling their agreed goals (terms of reference). The 2020 Action Plan reflects how far we have come, as a community, in the last three years. Nonetheless, opportunities still exist to improve the health of the coastal marine environment in Atl’ḵa7tsem/ Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. Continued, collaborative efforts across government, First Nations, organizations and individuals are key to ongoing success.
The update presented above aims to guide these efforts. In addition, further leadership actions that could be taken include:
→ Create a steering committee representing First Nations, government, business, communities, NGOs and other sectors to oversee and guide this work.
→ On an as needed basis, create ad-hoc committees focused on progressing strategic priority actions.
→ Establish a formal network of Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound government staff and First Nations to update and exchange information on marine environmental issues, and share resources and information arising from this work.
→ Appoint a sustainably funded project director/ coordinator to track progress, prepare annual plans and reports, manage committees and the suggested network, and organize workshops and seminars on priority topics related to the marine environment.