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Friday, July 2, 2010

City Hall Requires Muzzle on Delta Optimist Pit Bull

Delta City Municipal Hall British ColumbiaEditorial Preface by Elvis Glazier

It's never a good sign when politicians and bureaucrats flex their muscles against reporters and I for one think the recent pressure put on Ted Murphy, editor of the Delta Optimist, by Mayor Lois Jackson and Delta City Council is beyond reproach. I can only imagine the tactics they used to make the Optimist print a retraction and apology.

Recently, in a community column written by Debbie McBride and published by the Delta Optimist, Lois Jackson and Coun. Scott Hamilton were called out for their conduct and behavior when dealing with Metro Vancouver and some Fraser Valley communities on the issue of building garbage incinerators that would pollute the Fraser Valley's air. The column then went on to report the recent blocking of of Ramsar status for Burns Bog by Jackson and the City of Delta. It would seem these comments (facts?) struck a nerve with the long time Delta Mayor and council and they demanded a retraction and apology, citing their motivations for stopping the Ramsar designation in its tracks.

Regardless of motives, let's be very clear on the main point of Debbie McBride's article:

Mayor Lois Jackson, Councilor Scott Hamilton, the City of Delta, and the rest of City Council have prevented Metro Vancouver from getting Ramsar status for Burns Bog.

Now for the matter of their motives and the apology strong armed out of the Delta Optimist there is a saying, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

I have received many letters and emails regarding the stalling of Ramsar status, McBride's article, the retraction, and questionable (read: profitable) land use re-designations (ie. environmentally sensitive land being rezoned light industrial). The letter I have chosen to publish was not addressed to the Delta Free Press. It was in fact sent to Ted Murphy of the Delta Optimist. It is doubtful that it will ever be published in print so I have decided to include it here.

Now for the letter

Delta Optimist: Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,

June 26 edition: I was surprised that the Delta Optimist apologized to Delta Mayor and Council because the Council objected to remarks in a Community Comment column. Apparently, Delta Council objected to the contention that the municipality is standing in the way of a Ramsar designation for Burns Bog. Delta Council wants to make clear that it supports a Ramsar application but first wants to add additional properties to the covenant on Burns Bog. Delta’s position is noble. However, for several years there has been intent, but no action, to add properties to the Burns Bog Ecological Conservancy Area. In 2004, Councilor Guy Gentner put forward a motion to view all land areas in Burns Bog as candidates for protection. The Management Plan of 2007 included plans for the addition of 2 properties and documented the benefit of seeking a Ramsar designation.

It is very unfortunate that stalling on adding publicly-owned lands to the Burns Bog Ecological Conservancy has resulted in plans to build the South Fraser Perimeter Road through unprotected Burns Bog properties. The new freeway is planned within the unprotected hydrological boundary of Burns Bog. Government scientists have warned that the freeway “poses risks to key ecological functions required for the long term viability of Burns Bog.”

The Ramsar Convention Secretariat has published a Handbook on Designating Ramsar Sites. Page 20 advises that particular attention is needed to protect sites from potentially damaging activities, especially those likely to cause hydrological disturbance. Applicants are advised to maintain hydrological functions needed to conserve the international importance and integrity of the site.

So have our various levels of government been stonewalling attempts to move forward with the job of protecting the ecological viability of Burns Bog? You bet they have and we all know why.


Susan Jones

Sources of Information

Handbook on Designating Ramsar Sites

Burns Bog Ecological Conservancy Area Management Plan

Environment Canada quote from Technical Comments to the South Fraser Perimeter Road Environmental Assessment, November 19, 2007, Page 29 of 93


  1. Thanks for publishing this letter. Our civic politicians have much to answer for as they claim they did all they could to protect Burns Bog from the South Fraser Freeway. The road passes through a number of Delta owned properties that were supposed to be added to the Burns Bog protected areas, but were not. Now Delta council is rezoning those lands from environmentally sensitive to light industrial. This is the primary motivation for the road - rezoning farm and bog lands to industrial lands...

  2. Ernie, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. If you had paid attention you'd have known that the properties were not 'rezoned' as you wrongly suggest...they have always been zoned 'light industrial'. An ESA designation was placed on them as they were contiguous to the bog and had positive environmental attributes, and it had been suggested that the province may try to align their new highway through those properties - so the ESA designation might prevent them from attempting that - so much for your argument about Council not doing anything! . The province then expropriated some of the land to build a highway. The northern portions of the properties were effectively severed from the bog, and therefore would be rendered worthless as far as any future environmental contributions that those lands may have had. It's funny how people tend only to focus on these small northern properties, but completely ignore the fact that Delta then proceeded to incorporate the remaining (vast majority) of those lands to the south into the bog - contrary to your assertion Ernie! As for the Ramsar should be very clear to everyone but the utterly ignorant that as Delta seems to be trying to acquire even more land to add to the bog, it only makes sense to wait and submit a complete application! Duh!