Fraser Riverkeeper's Recommendations for a Swimmable Vancouver

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Vancouver is buzzing with excitement at the prospect of making False Creek, the heart of downtown, swimmable. This possibility is not only desirable, it’s doable. We can build on the momentum of other major cities that have successfully made once-polluted urban waterways swimmable. Most notably, and remarkably, Paris has opened its once-polluted Canal to swimmers this summer. Chicago, Washington and Boston are all actively working to make formerly garbage-laden and polluted urban waterways safe and clean for public swimming. While the Clean Water Act in the US has been the catalyst for clean-ups in most American cities, we all share this truth: our cities and citizens are passionate about having clean, living rivers flowing through their downtowns.

This morning Vancouver City Council decides on key actions to be undertaken to improve water quality in False Creek. Council’s ultimate goals are to make False Creek swimmable and to restore shellfish harvesting once again.

Fraser Riverkeeper wholeheartedly supports the motion to make False Creek swimmable. As representatives of recreational water users in Vancouver and beyond— many of which love paddling in False Creek— we share the collective vision of a vibrant and resilient waterfront, where people can swim safely in the heart of our city.  

Of specific interest in the City’s Administrative Report are two recommendations: the allocation of $200,000 towards research on False Creek hydrology and a feasibility study for a floating swimming pool in False Creek (sourcing the water from our drinking watersheds). 

So what will it take to make False Creek Swimmable?  

 

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Sayonara, Sockeye Salmon

SalmonCoast2.pngSchool’s out and the summer is just beginning for many, but the sockeye salmon migration season has ended for the Salmon Early Marine Survival Program (SEMSP).

Salmon Coast Field Station (SCFS) hosts researchers from SEMSP, who had their last day of sockeye salmon sampling for the 2017 season on July 12. SEMSP monitors the health and abundance of Fraser River sockeye salmon. These fish emerge as fry from the Fraser and its tributaries, and migrate out to the Pacific Ocean. It is thought that the majority of Fraser River salmon pass through the “bottleneck” of Johnstone Strait, where SCFS SEMSP researchers conduct their work. On July 12, the crew visited its six monitoring sites throughout the Strait, located near Cracroft Point and Bauza Cove.The team uses a mini purse seine net to capture schools of salmon. There are still other species of salmon at the sites, like chum and pink, but the sockeye have left Johnstone and are continuing on their outward migration. (This area also channels other species through it; it is a common spot to glimpse orcas, humpbacks and other cetaceans. Check out a live feed of the area here: http://explore.org/live-cams/player/orcalab-cracroft-point-surface).

 

SalmonCoast6.pngThe SEMS Program is a collaboration between researchers and students from a variety of institutions, including SCFS, Hakai Insitute, UofT, UVic, SFU and UBC. These biologists are attempting to learn more about the juvenile life stage of sockeye because little is known about their early marine survival. Every year, salmon emerge from their natal streams as fry in massive numbers, but the proportion of juveniles that make it to adulthood is low. This could be due to predation, water quality, food abundance and anthropological effects. It is hypothesized that Johnstone Strait is a “food desert” for the fish, an unproductive zooplankton zone. This is explored by taking samples of juvenile salmon for lab analysis. Factors like DNA, stomach contents and parasite load (such as sea lice) are examined. The team also conducts oceanographic sampling for elements such as zooplankton abundance, temperature, and salinity, all of which may contribute to salmon survival. In addition, SEMSP sampling provides information about schooling behaviour, as the team records the composition of groups of salmon when captured.

 

Fraser River sockeye salmon may school with chum, pink, and coho salmon from this region, local herring, and other species. This data is compared with the information collected by their partner SEMSP team located in the Discovery Islands. This island group is an earlier point in the sockeye migration. 

This project presents a picture of the immense challenges salmon must overcome to complete their migration. FRK initiatives to improve water quality, conserve and restore salmon habitat at the beginning of salmon migration are crucial. If fish are prematurely forced out of their natal streams, underfed or diseased when they exit the Fraser, there is no way they will be able to complete their migration. Wastewater, garbage and pollution release pathogens and bacteria into the Fraser watershed, which negatively impact the juvenile salmon. 

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Connecting People through Water

“Without good water we don’t have a good quality of life”

BC's rivers, lakes and coastline are an integral part of our lives on the west coast. Watching people paddling under the setting sun at MEC Big Chop; hearing people's powerful memories on the water at beach-clean ups; and being involved in Our Water BC during the provincial election has made us realize how deeply passionate people are about water--our life source. At Fraser Riverkeeper, we believe that a swimmable, drinkable, and fishable future begins with community. When citizens are engaged on local water issues and have the resources and tools in order to take action, boil water, swimming and fishing advisories will be things of the past. 

Griffin Kelly, Researcher at Salmon Coast, reflects on past events that celebrated water. 

World Ocean Day - June 8th, 2017 

 On June 8th, Salmon Coast Field Station participated in Port Hardy’s World Oceans Day celebration. A large portion of the economy of Port Hardy, like many of the surrounding communities in the North Island, depends on fisheries and their subsidiary industries. Residents interact with the Pacific Ocean on a regular basis and many depend on it for their livelihood, giving World Oceans Day an added layer of significance. Salmon Coast Field Station, along with other conservation groups and government representatives, like the Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, were in attendance at the event. The majority of attendees were children from local elementary schools.

A major topic of discussion at the event was the Stream to Sea program. Stream to Sea was a DFO-funded project, which allowed classrooms in BC to raise salmon from eggs to fry, and then to release the juvenile fish into a near-by river or estuary. The funding to the program was recently cut and the program will be discontinued. Local teachers at World Oceans Day expressed that Stream to Sea was an strong promoter of aquatic and ecological knowledge. Many of the kids that visited the SCFS booth already had vocabulary to describe salmon (fry, smolt) and knew of their life cycle and migration patterns. The kids’ enthusiasm for learning about salmon and sea lice made the decision to cut the program even more disheartening. World Oceans Day is an excellent opportunity for youth to interact with conservation groups, but it only occurs once a year. To raise salmon in a classroom is an unparalleled experience, as it develops an intimate connection between children and their nearby environment. It is crucial to foster environmental stewardship and an awareness of one’s surroundings from a young age.

In my project interviews over the past few weeks, I have spoken with commercial fishers who have expressed the importance of their personal connection to the ocean and their fishery. This relationship stems from their lived experience on the water, shared community heritage, and their family’s historical participation in the salmon, prawn or other fishery. I have met several third or fourth-generation fishers who feel that their family’s way of life is in danger. As the commercial fishing industry shrinks, connections between individuals and the ocean will have to be fostered in alternatives ways. The Stream to Sea program is a perfect example of this, and the loss of the program will be felt by local communities.

Due to public outcries, DFO reversed their decision to cut funding to the Stream to Sea program. This shows the power of public opinion -- we are pleased that the refunding will continue to help educate and inspire future water leaders.

 59th Annual June Sports Festival -  June 15th, 2017

This weekend marked the 59th annual June Sports festival, a soccer tournament and cultural celebration in Alert Bay, Cormorant Island, BC, hosted by the ‘Na̱mg̱is First Nation. 38 soccer teams from around BC competed in the tournament. June Sports attracts teams from Vancouver, Cowichan, and Squamish, and it also brings together spread-out North Island communities like Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Kingcome Inlet, and Gilford Village. Salmon Coast researchers and staff went to Alert Bay to volunteer at the event.

The weekend opens with the Salmon Prince and Princess Pageant, where youth from the community share their Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw cultural knowledge and Kwak̓wala language skills. The prince and princess were crowned at the opening ceremony of the festival. Organizers of the pageant state that the event began to promote cultural awareness among young people, and now is an opportunity for cultural sharing within the community.

The centrality of salmon in the pageant and the weekend festival echoes the importance of fish in the community; Alert Bay was historically supported by the salmon fishery and now the ‘Na̱mg̱is First Nation owns the first North American closed containment fish farm, Kuterra. Closed containment farms are often advertised as the sustainable future of aquaculture, as they prevent any form of sea lice or disease cross-contamination and waste spillage into the ocean. Norway has recently halted expansion of open-net pen aquaculture and will focus on closed containment development. The majority of BC farms are owned by Norwegian companies, and their change gives hope to communities in this territory that a similar shift could happen here.

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SCFS volunteered as referees for the U5 (kids five years old and under) tournament.

Picture: Clare Atkinson 

 

 

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Burger, Beer and a Movie

 Jack_with_Mystic_photo_(1).jpgFree range grass fed beef burgers, cold craft beer, Jack Johnson and an amazing cause -- what’s not to love? FarmFolk CityFolk and Fraser Riverkeeper, two Vancouver-based non-profits hand-picked by Jack Johnson’s All At Once Social Action Network, recently teamed up for a public screening of The Smog of the Sea. The documentary is directed by Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Ian Cheney (King Corn, The City Dark, The Search for General Tso).

The Smog of the Sea chronicles a 1-week journey through the remote waters of the Sargasso Sea. Marine scientist Marcus Eriksen invited onboard an unusual crew to help him study the sea: renowned surfers Keith & Dan Malloy, musician Jack Johnson, spearfisher woman Kimi Werner, and bodysurfer Mark Cunningham become citizen scientists on a mission to assess the fate of plastics in the world’s oceans.                                                                                                                        

“As someone who loves and lives in the ocean, I couldn’t be more excited to have participated in 5 Gyres’ SEA Change Expedition” Jack Johnson said. “I look forward to raising awareness of the importance of reducing our dependency on single-use plastics.”  Singer-songwriter, surfer, and long-time ocean lover Jack Johnson has been affecting ocean health worldwide by supporting plastic-free initiatives through his social action network All At Once and his Johnson Ohana Foundation.

Over 200 Jack Johnson fans joined us for a lively and engaging night, hosted by Patagonia Vancouver. Patagonia Vancouver generously donated stainless steel mugs for everyone that attended. 

For a small suggested donation, MeatMe and Persephone Brewing provided the public with free range pasture raised beef burgers and craft beer. Every dollar raised from this event is matched by Jack Johnson’s All at Once campaign, benefiting FarmFolk CityFolk and Fraser Riverkeeper.

Top Chef Canada's Trevor Bird generously volunteered his time to cook up burgers for hungry event-goers. Thank you, Trevor!

Fraser Riverkeeper and FarmFolk CityFolk are extremely proud to be a continuing partner of All At Once since the launch of this initiative in 2008”, said Charly Caproff, Water Literacy Coordinator for Fraser Riverkeeper and Nicholas Scapillati Executive Director of FarmFolk CityFolk.

We'd like to give special thanks to FarmFolk CityFolk for spear-heading this event and making it a huge success. FarmFolk CityFolk is 'working to cultivate a local, sustainable food system. [Their] projects provide access to and protection of farmland; support local growers and producers; and engage communities in the celebration of local food.'

Join them at their upcoming event, Feast of Fields, on Sunday, August 27, 2017 at Ravenhill Herb Farm.  

Quotes:

"Building a sustainable food system means more than supporting local food and agriculture. It also means reducing food, packaging and serving waste --especially single use plastics” Nicholas Scapillati, FarmFolk CityFolk 

“We’re passionate about reconnecting the public with their local waterways through engaging and inspiring campaigns. Our vision is for a swimmable Vancouver where people can safely recreate at False Creek and other urban waterways -- that comes with collaboration and public involvement.” Charly Caproff, Fraser Riverkeeper

Both FarmFolk CityFolk and Fraser Riverkeeper will be on-site for the Jack Johnson concert July 23rd at Deer Lake Park. Come join us for a lively night of music and support your favourite local non-profits.  

For more information about Jack Johnson and All At Once please visit JackJohnsonMusic.com and www.AllAtOnce.org. To view the documentary trailer, please visit this link: http://bit.ly/2nVJO7Q

Image courtesy Jessica ScheeterJack Johnson Tour Non-Profit Coordinator.

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BREAKING: Vancouverites deserve real-time sewage reporting, now: Fraser Riverkeeper launches #SwimmableVancouver campaign

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June 27, 2017 –

 

VANCOUVER – Fraser Riverkeeper has launched a campaign demanding for real-time reporting and public transparency on raw sewage discharges into Vancouver’s waterways. The launch of the Swimmable Vancouver campaign coincides with the release of Swim Drink Fish Canada’s Canada Beach Report, the first-ever comparative study of Canadian recreational water quality.

The report finds that with few exceptions, provinces and territories do not notify the public in the event of a sewage bypass that could increase contamination of recreational waters.

It also reveals that most provinces and territories do not issue rain advisories to recreational water users to ensure that they avoid contact with contaminated water. 

According to Swim Guide, a free water quality app provided by Swim Drink Fish Canada, recreationalists should stay out of urban waters for at least 48 hours following a heavy rainfall event. This is because rainwater picks up oil, heavy metals, fertilizers, litter and other pollutants as it flows through our streets and into the storm drains. 

In Vancouver, many of these storm drains are connected to sewer systems. During heavy rainfalls, the raw sewage and pollutants overwhelm barriers intended to direct contaminated water into waste water treatment plants. Instead, the toxic water overflows into the Burrard Inlet and Fraser River, untreated. 

In 2014, Metro Vancouver pled guilty to a violation of Section 36 of the Fisheries Act due to a release of untreated sewage into the Burrard Inlet at Brockton Point.

“We’re thrilled that the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Parks Board are taking action to improve water quality and restore fish habitat”, said Lauren Hornor, Fraser Riverkeeper’s Executive Director. 

“However, as we work collectively to clean up our waters, the public needs to know when a sewage overflow or bypass has occurred in real time -- not in a yearly report that won’t be released for months.”

Riverkeeper’s Swimmable Vancouver campaign urges Mayor Gregor Robertson to work with City engineers to provide real-time reporting on sewage discharges and bypasses into the Burrard Inlet -- including False Creek -- and the Fraser River. 

In May of this year, the City of Kingston and Utilities Kingston launched the first real-time sewage overflow tracking system in Canada.  The City of Toronto is now also issuing sewage bypass alerts.

To show your support of the Swimmable Vancouver campaign, Fraser Riverkeeper encourages the public to send a letter via our Swimmable Vancouver campaign page. By the end of the summer, the organization hopes to have 10,000 letters sent to decision makers.

For more information on the Canada Beach Report, please contact Swim Guide Manager Gabrielle Parent-Doliner: gabrielle@theswimguide.org

  

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Media Inquiries:

Lauren Hornor

Executive Director,

Fraser Riverkeeper

E: lauren@fraserriverkeeper.ca

P: 604.674.7444

 

Charly Caproff

Water Literacy Coordinator,

Fraser Riverkeeper

E: charly@fraserriverkeeper.ca

P: 778.868.2583

 

Matt Chisholm

Swim Drink Fish Community Coordinator,

Swim Drink Fish Canada

E: mattc@waterkeeper.ca

P: 416.861.1237

 

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Job Posting: Watermark Outreach Coordinator

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Join the Team at Fraser Riverkeeper!

Fraser Riverkeeper is seeking a Watermark Outreach Coordinator for a full-time, 9-week contract. This position is a perfect opportunity for someone passionate about protecting Canadian waters and eager to engage with the community.

ABOUT FRASER RIVERKEEPER

Fraser Riverkeeper (FRK) is a non-profit registered charity, and a proud member of Canada’s Swim Drink Fish community. Based in Vancouver, FRK was first incorporated in 2004 and officially launched in 2007 by Executive Director Lauren Hornor with the leadership of environmental advocate and legendary trail-blazing prosecutor, the late Doug Chapman. Our programs bring together law, science, digital media, and culture to empower residents of the Fraser River watershed and coastal B.C. We provide tools for water literacy and leadership, enabling local citizens to restore polluted places, protect human health, and promote swimmable, fishable, drinkable water.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: VANCOUVER WATERMARK OUTREACH COORDINATOR

9 week full-time contract, 35 hours/week

Do you love to interview people and engage with the public at community events? This might be the job for you.

Fraser Riverkeeper works alongside Swim Drink Fish Canada to foster a growing movement of active, informed and engaged water leaders across Canada. We accomplish this by using law, research, citizen engagement, and digital media tools, such as the Watermark Project.

The Watermark Project gathers and publishes people’s stories about a body of water that has influenced their lives. It documents the way that water affects people, records valuable local knowledge, and inspires participants to become better stewards of their local waters. This position is a perfect opportunity for someone who is inspired by the idea that real stories from ordinary people can help to shape and protect our water heritage.

Watermark Outreach Coordinator responsibilities:

As Watermark Outreach Coordinator you will represent Fraser Riverkeeper at water-related events throughout Metro Vancouver and across the watershed, collecting water stories from community members as part of the Watermark Project. You will support Fraser Riverkeeper's recreational water protection programs and build connections with people, groups, and businesses who use and love BC’s Waterways. You will be responsible for helping to cultivate a strong Watermark social media presence in Vancouver and encouraging others to collect water stories. We’re looking for someone who is passionate about water with a natural ability to connect with the public on a personal level.

Additionally, you will also help staff plan and execute a family-friendly water-based event to celebrate our 10-year anniversary in late August. The event will be held at a Vancouver sailing club and you will be responsible for planning youth-friendly activities; coordinating a large BBQ; managing volunteers; finding creative ways to promote the event to the public; and other related tasks.

Our work is focused in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, so extra emphasis will be placed on activities that strengthen the region's community of recreational water users and promote our recreational waters locally.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Delight booth and table attendees at events with information about BC waters and its threats.
  • Collect personal water stories, or "Watermarks" from community members across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser River watershed.
  • Training others to collect Watermark stories. Engage citizens, organizations, and businesses in issues related to recreational water quality.
  • Identify and help arrange summer tabling/engagement opportunities.
  • Attend and table at scheduled events from late June to August (evenings and weekends required).
  • Act as an in-person ambassador for Fraser Riverkeeper and the Watermark Project.
  • Provide on-site and “from the field” pictures and videos for our social media profiles.
  • Ability to plan and execute engagement strategies to maintain relationships with project participants over time.
  • Coordinate, organize and promote our Water Literacy public event in August, paying attention to detail and making sure it’s a success! 

You are an ideal candidate for this position if:

  • You would love to spend your summer talking to the community and sharing their important water stories.
  • You are interested in recreational water quality issues.
  • You have a great work ethic and are able to accomplish tasks on time and independently.
  • It’s important to you to help people understand how recreational water activities can impact their health, both positively and negatively.
  • You are articulate and outgoing.
  • You are happy and able to work evenings and weekends when required for public events.
  • You are organized and motivated You love spending time on the Fraser River and Vancouver waterfront (swimming, paddling, sailing, fishing, etc).
  • You are willing to learn how to use Salesforce CRM software.
  • You have a proven ability to work independently with minimal supervision.
  • You have strong Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram skills.
  • You have a full, valid Class 5 license (access to a vehicle is a bonus but not required).
  • You’re based in Metro Vancouver.

Our funding requires that you are returning to school in September 2017 and are under the age of 30.

To Apply:

Each application must include 1 copy of the following documents:

  • A cover letter that describes why you would make a great Watermark Outreach Coordinator (Note: This is our favourite part of the application - we look for style, personality, spelling, grammar, and your perspective on the job description.)
  • Your resumé.
  • Names and contact information for two references.

Please submit your application as soon as possible to:

Charly Caproff

charly@fraserriverkeeper.ca

Re: Watermark Outreach Coordinator Position

Apply by June 28th, 2017; applications will be reviewed as they arrive.

Sorry, but we can only respond to those candidates selected for an interview.

Fraser Riverkeeper is committed to having a skilled, diversified workforce reflective of the Vancouver community, and to the equitable representation of women, aboriginal peoples, and members of a visible minority group.

Other Information: Hours: 35 hours/week. Must be available some evenings and weekends.

Location: Based in Vancouver with possible travel to other communities on the BC coast and within the Fraser River watershed.

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Saving the Pacific Salmon

Guest blogger Griffin Kelly shares her research and stories from the rugged west coast. She's currently exploring the impact of aquaculture on community in the Broughton Archipelago.

Salmon Coast was founded by biologist Alexandra Morton, who first noticed the influx of sea lice into the environment. Wild salmon pick up lice during their time in the open ocean. Farms are infected by wild salmon during the in-migration to rivers. Adult salmon return to the rivers to spawn, and then die off. The lice die off with them. However, fish farms act as incubators for sea lice over the winter; the lice remain in the system because they have constant, static hosts. When juvenile salmon emerge from rivers in the spring into the ocean, they are exposed to sea lice at an unnaturally early stage (Marty 2010). This can result in harmful effects on juvenile wild salmon populations (Krkošek 2017.)

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Burdwoods farm

Salmon Coast carries out the longest-running juvenile salmon monitoring program, which is in its 17th year. Each week, we go out and take samples of juvenile salmon from three sites adjacent to fish farms. The sites are Wicklow, in Fife Sound, Glacier, in Tribune Channel, and Burdwoods, in the Burdwood Group islands. This is an important chance for us to interact with the salmon at various stages in their growth cycle; at the beginning of the season the parr are only 30mm long, and by June, the smolts are larger than 100mm.

We set beach seine nets to collect 100 fish at each site, 50 pink salmon and 50 chum salmon. Pink and chum salmon school together, and are the most prevalent species in this area. These fish are placed in plastic bags with seawater in order to be measured and examined. Counts of lice per fish are recorded, along with observations of other factors, such as environmental stressors. The salmon are released back into the ocean. This process is continued for the duration of the salmon run, starting in early April and ending late June. On May 4th, we visited the usual sites, and were joined by Alex Morton, as she conducted her own sampling.

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Collected salmon await examination.

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A salmon is measured by a volunteer.

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Examining a chum salmon for sea lice with a hand lens.

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This independent data set is a crucial tool to demonstrate the measured and changing effects of sea lice and aquaculture on wild salmon. It has been used in multiple papers and reports by researchers since 2001. The weekly monitoring program is a collaborative effort, as it relies on volunteers, researchers and community members, including members from the local First Nations.

 

  1. Krkošek, Martin. "Population biology of infectious diseases shared by wild and farmed fish." Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 74.4 (2017): 620-28. Web.
  2. Marty, G. D., S. M. Saksida, and T. J. Quinn. "Relationship of Farm Salmon, Sea Lice, and Wild Salmon Populations." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107.52 (2010): 22599-2604. Web.
  3. Schreiber, Dorothee, and Dianne Newell. "Negotiating TEK in BC Salmon Farming: Learning from Each Other or Managing Tradition and Eliminating Contention?." BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly 150 (2006): 1-17.

 

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PRIZE GIVEAWAY: Free Jack Johnson concert tickets!

PRIZE GIVEAWAY: Free Jack Johnson concert tickets!

JJ_2017_MarineDebris_Square.jpgWe’re excited to announce that we’ll be joining Jack Johnson at his concert on July 23rd, 2017, providing you with ways to get inspired and take action in creating a sustainable future.

 

A former professional surfer, Johnson is now a Billboard charting artist (his first five major-label albums crested platinum status), respected documentary filmmaker and environmental advocate. 

 

100% of Jack Johnson’s 2008 tour profits were used to establish the Johnson Ohana Foundation, a non-profit charity founded by Kim and Jack Johnson to support environmental, art, and music education.

  

We’re extremely proud to be a continuing partner of All At Once since the launch of this initiative in 2008.

Jack Johnson has generously provided two FREE tickets for fans – all you have to do is sign-up to help volunteer at the event with Fraser Riverkeeper! The first two people to sign-up will win!

 

 

 

 

Email the Fraser Riverkeeper team NOW to get your free tickets today! 

E: info@fraserriverkeeper.ca

For more information about Jack Johnson and All At Once please visit  JackJohnsonMusic.com and www.AllAtOnce.org. To view Jack Johnson’s Smog of the Sea documentary trailer, please visit this link: http://bit.ly/2nVJO7Q

 

 

Concert Details:

 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Deer Lake Park

6450 Deer Lake Ave. Burnaby, BC V5H 4R4

Doors Open: 5:00pm

Support Act – John Craigie: 6:30pm

Jack Johnson set: 7:45pm

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Share a story, save a waterbody at Our Coastal Connection exhibit

Vancouver, BC – May 30th, 2016 - Fraser Riverkeeper joins over 20 local organizations dedicated to a swimmable, drinkable and fishable future at the opening day of Our Coastal Connection – a new exhibit at the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site.

 

The exhibit officially opens on June 3rd and is part of Richmond Canada 150, a year-long series of events and programs celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary. 

 

“In the face of 8 million metric tons of plastic waste entering our global oceans each year, many local individuals have taken initiative to protect our waterways and remarkable goals have been achieved,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “The new exhibit will be a fascinating and inspiring way to help us all remember why we love our waters and what we can do to keep our rivers and oceans clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.”

 

We’ll be asking the public to share their Watermark – a personal and powerful story about their experiences on BC’s rivers, lakes and coast.

 

Sweeping changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act – now known as the Navigation Protection Act – in 2009 and 2012 resulted in the loss of our inherent right to freely explore, paddle and otherwise navigate on 99% of Canada’s 2.5-million waterbodies.

 

No protection means there’s no requirement for public consultation and input on projects that obstruct passage, such as dams. 

 

The Watermark Project is a community effort to collect and archive true stories about the ways that Canadians interact with water. When you contribute a Watermark, you register the waterbody in a national database of important waters; document the value of that waterbody to you and your community; help researchers identify waters where people swim, drink or fish, so that those uses can be protected in the future; and provide evidence that ensures environmental laws can be used to safeguard your waters. 

 

“When people know where their drinking water comes from, how their waste water is treated and the steps that they can take in everyday life to protect their local waterbodies, we’ll see significant improvements in water protection,” said Charly Caproff, Water Literacy Coordinator for Fraser Riverkeeper. “That journey begins with a Watermark.”

 

In partnership with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and local organizations, groups and individuals, Fraser Riverkeeper plans to make waves in how water is protected in BC and across the nation.

 

So, what’s your Watermark?

 

Join us at the exhibit opening on June 3rd, 2017 from 11AM – 4PM at Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, located at 5180 Westwater Drive in Richmond, BC.

 

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For media inquiries, please contact:    


Charly Caproff

Water Literacy Coordinator, Fraser Riverkeeper 

Ph: 604-674-7444

E: charly@fraserriverkeeper.ca

 

 

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#WatermarkWednesday - Brittany Coulter

DSC07250.jpg#WatermarkWednesday - Brittany Coulter

Growing up on the West coast of British Columbia I could divide most of my friends into two groups. Those who flock to the sea, who live and love her temperamental ways, with hair forever kissed by a salty breeze. And then there are those who find their solace in the mountains. Who understand time not by the numbers on their wristwatch but by the way the sun diffuses through the deep green canopy above and by the subtle changes in a songbirds tune. Now this is not to say we are solely creatures of mountain or sea, I actually believe quite the opposite is true. 

Above all there is a force that cements an eternal connection between these places we cherish. This force is water. It is the lifeblood of our irreplaceable rainforest. It timelessly cycles from the highest glaciers through mossy forests, lush riparian zones, and meandering streams, to eventually ebb and flow along with the beat of the moon. 

I was raised in the Lynn Creek watershed, an ecosystem along the Northern most fringe of Vancouver. Since time immemorial various Coast Salish bands such as Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh have occupied and managed these lands. In more recent history it was identified as a logging jackpot and all accessible timber was removed, evidently along with much of the regions biodiversity. Thankfully a few 800+ year old Western red cedars (Thuja plicata) still remain hidden in her canopy. It was in search of one of these giants that I recall my watermark moment. 

I was sitting atop the crest of Lynn Peak in early September 2011, taking a well-deserved break after a full day of tramping around the bush. Not paying much attention I knocked over my water bottle spilling the contents all over the exposed granite beneath my feet. Besides suddenly feeling extremely thirsty, as one always does as soon as they realize they do not have any more water, I noticed the spill had diverged into two separate paths; one flowed down the West side of the mountain towards the Seymour River and the other down the East side towards Lynn Creek. The water in each path will flow towards the ocean through two completely different watersheds. This seemingly insignificant accident resulted in an, admittedly small, change in the overall system. It was this reflection that no matter how small our actions may be, everything we do has consequences and it enforces the fact that one person can make a difference. We already do it everyday, but the hard part is deciding what to do next.

We would love to share your Watermark with the world; submit your story here today!

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