EDITORIAL: There’s a push to get the Salish Sea designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Just what effect would the designation have on shipping, fishing, oil tankers, etc.?

It was one of those dozens upon dozens of e-mails we get every day, our fingers hovering over the delete button because we really don’t need to spend time on stories about olives in California or the latest gripe from taxpayers in Scarborough.

Whoa, step away from that delete button. This e-mail suggested a group is trying to create interest in designating the Salish Sea, that body of water we hug and love in Parksville Qualicum Beach, as a World Heritage Site.

There are 1,052 such sites in the world, 18 in Canada, including Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, Dinosaur Provincial Park and the Rideau Canal. World Heritage sites are areas designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with the goal of preserving places of cultural, natural and historic significance.

Sounds good on the surface. The Salish Sea (Puget Sound and both the Georgia and Juan De Fuca straits) is unique, biologically diverse and important culturally and scientifically.

Red flags shot up immediately, however. Would this designation essentially shut the Salish Sea down to business, as in fishing, transportation and yes, oil tankers? These waters have been important business and food-gathering routes since, well, since there were people, and long before white folk. Was this effort some end-around, a clever ploy by environmentalists to stop the expansion of oil-tanker traffic before any new pipeline even reached the coast?

Laurie Gourley is with the Salish Sea Trust and he put some of our fears aside.

“It (the UNESCO designation) does not stop commercial activities,” Gourley said last week. “In fact, we expect a little flak from the anti-tanker interests.”

Attaining World Heritage Site status is a 10-year process. UNESCO’s latest round of applications are due at the end of January, 2017, a short four months away. The Salish Sea Trust aims to get its information to Parks Canada (which must make the formal application to UNESCO) by December. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been encouraging Canadians to come up with applications for World Heritage Sites.

Gourlay said the input of First Nations people is key to the application. He is encouraging all people to get involved and learn more. For more information, e-mail salishseatrust@shaw.ca.

— Editorial by John Harding

Just Posted

Emerging Sooke filmmaker takes spotlight with special award

Mary Galloway creates her own opportunities

Government House gala a great time to announce new Langham Court season

Production chair Alan Penty unveils 90-year-old theatre company’s plans for the coming year

Wild about nature photos: Royal B.C. Museum set to kick off annual exhibition

Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition winners, finalists’ works on display starting Friday

REVIEW: Allan Reid finds a meal fit for a king

Monday’s intrepid restaurant reviewer gets the royal treatment at the Fireside Grill

FILM FEST WRAP: Your winners, reviewer’s favourites make for differing lists

Kyle Wells takes a look back on the Victoria Film Festival’s 25th anniversary event

Seedy Saturday blossoms at Victoria Conference Centre this weekend

Speakers cover wide range of topics, including how to utilize small spaces for gardening

Port Alberni production tells real stories of casual racism

Divided We Fall coming to ADSS and the Capitol Theatre

Women dominated in Grammys nominations, but will they win?

This year’s nominees mark a departure from the 2018 Grammys

Most Read