The South Coast is the first region to implement actions that integrate recommendations from the discussion paper Working Together to Protect Species at Risk: Strategies Recommended by Local Government to Improve Conservation on Municipal, Regional and Private Lands in British Columbia developed by the provincial Species and Ecosystems at Risk and Local Governments Working Group (SEAR LGWG). While local governments have many of the tools needed to achieve protection for species at risk, those that work to achieve such actions are few. The reasons for this are most often due to challenges at the political level, internal capacity and gaps in resources. In June 2013, with funding from the Real Estate Foundation of BC, the SCCP initiated A Pilot Partnership for Integrating Species and Ecosystems at Risk into Sustainable Land Use with a core group of local government partners. Resources developed through this evolving partnerhsip can be found below.
To date the SCCP has worked with a number of municipalities including the District of West Vancouver, District of Squamish, Resort Municipality of Whistler and Sunshine Coast Regional District, and continues to provide guidance to a range of municipalities as they begin the necessary steps to address protecting species at risk and their habitat.
Other organizations such as the Stewardship Centre of British Columbia / Green Bylaws Tookit, The Gary Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team Society, Coastal Douglas-fir Conservation Partnership, South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, Kootenay Conservation Program and Community Bat Programs of BC have also developed a host of complementary tools and resources for local governments and land use interests. As well check out the Islands Trust website for the regulatory approaches and conservation incentives they have developed for protecting species and habitat on private land that include some of BC's rarest ecological communities.
Local Government Tools Supporting Species and Ecosystems at Risk: A Resource Guide for the South Coast of British Columbia This document is designed as a resource guide for local governments, decision-makers and those involved in land use stewardship and in the development or implementation of actions that effect species and ecological communities at risk (SEAR). The guide was developed as part of the learning outcomes from the SCCP’s 2013 initiative “A Pilot Partnership for Integrating Species and Ecosystems at Risk into Sustainable Land Use.” The project focused on the regional implementation of the B.C. Government’s Species and Ecosystems at Risk and Local Governments Working Group (SEAR LGWG) recommendations.
Species at Risk and Critical Habitat: Understanding Responsibilities & Making Informed Decisions On Private Land and our "SARA 101" brochure. These resources are specifically designed for addressing roles and responsibilities around dealing with species at risk and critical habitat on private lands. While this resource was developed with landowners, developers and realtors in mind, the document will also be a useful tool for local governments when engaging with these audiences, whether at the municipal hall "front counter", as part of community planning or even on up to the elected decision maker level.
Egmont / Pender Harbour OCP Review for the Sunshine Coast Regional District: This review is designed to provide an independent analysis of the effectiveness of the SCRD’s Egmont/Pender Harbour Official Community Plan in addressing conservation of species and ecosystems at risk (SEAR). The report also goes one step further and provides recommendations for the improved integration of SEAR into the SCRD’s everyday operations and decision-making and provides guidance to help the SCRD work toward compliance with relevant legislation.
Species at Risk Backgrounder and Policy Review for the Resort Municipality of Whistler: This review is designed to provide an independent analysis of the content, approach, and efficacy of the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s plans and policies in protecting Species and Ecosystems at Risk. The report also provides recommendations for the improved integration of SEAR into RMOW’s everyday operations and decision-making and provides guidance to help the RMOW work toward compliance with relevant legislation.
Species at Risk Backgrounder and Policy Review for the District of Squamish: This review is designed to provide an independent analysis of the content, approach, and efficacy of the District of Sqamish’s (DOS) plans and policies in protecting Species and Ecosystems at Risk. The report also provides recommendations for the improved integration of SEAR into the District’s everyday operations and decision-making and provides guidance to help the DOS work toward compliance with relevant legislation.
The SCCP also hosts ongoing webinars to provide an interactive online forum on timely and relevant issues and resources around species at risk and land use.
Ultimately the goal is to have a consistent and committed approach to integrating species and ecosystems at risk in land use policies and practices.
Aside from local governments, the Real Estate Foundation and Ducks Unlimited Canada, the SCCP has collaborated with other ENGO's on developing resources for local governments. The BC Wetlands Federation has been working on a complementary process with local governments. The outcomes of their work from 2013 can be access here. The David Suzuki Foundation has been working on an Eco-assets initiative for a number of years and has developed compelling resources for this novel approach to managing infrastructure and capital costs.
A Growing Toolkit: The BC Ministry of Environment's Develop with Care Best Management Practices (BMPs) series provides a foundational resource for local governments when addressing a range of development issues. Local governments should also add the updated Green Bylaws Toolkit to the suite of guidance resources for land use planning. As a bioregion, the South Coast encompasses five regional districts: Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, the Sea to Sky, the Sunshine Coast, Qathet (formerly the Powell River RD) and the Islands Trust. Each with respective municipalities, First Nations communities and school districts. The SCCP has looked to a number of its local government partners as part of compiling progressive bylaws and planning tools that target species at risk on the South Coast. Examples include the City of Surrey's Sensitive Ecosystem Development Permit Area (SEDPA) Bylaw and and the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Invasive Species Bylaw.
For South Coast/Coast Region municipalities looking for resources to protect and restore critical habitat on their own lands (e.g. parks or rights of way), or to suggest to developers and landowners should check out the SCCP's Diversity by Design Toolkit and complementary resources developed by The Stewardship Centre of BC, Habitat Acquisition Trust and Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team.
The SCCP would like to acknowledge the support and investment of the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia and Ducks Unlimited Canada for supporting the SCCP in building the foundational partnerships that have enabled the SCCP to move forward in developing this unique model for working with local governments on SEAR responsibilities. Further funding was also provided through the Government of Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk.
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