Courtenay council unanimously approved a motion from Doug Hillian to establish a consistent 30-metre setback to help protect the Morrison Creek Watershed.
“Anybody who’s walked along our streams and has seen the incredible benefits that come from a healthy riparian zone is a convert to the fact that we need to protect the remaining streams that we have,” Hillian said at the Aug.19 meeting. He notes development pressure in riparian areas has increased as natural buffers shrink along streams.
“We have a jewel in Morrison Creek within our community. We want to make sure that it stays that way, and that any development that takes place doesn’t interfere with that healthy buffer.”
The watershed contains various species of salmon, mussels, crayfish and the endangered Morrison Creek Lamprey, also known as the western brook lamprey. Hillian’s motion followed a recent presentation from the Morrison Creek Streamkeepers, which is concerned about setbacks being less than a recommended 30-metre distance, as based on scientific research and professional observation.
Coun. Wendy Morin expressed appreciation for steward groups that rehabilitate waterways, and provide tours to elected officials.
“We are still going to have development, but I think we can find ways to balance the needs and to use natural infrastructure to our benefit, rather than damaging what we have,” Morin said.
“I think we do need to work towards a higher standard of protection, both for Morrison Creek and in other stream systems in our community,” Coun. Melanie McCollum said. “If we’re able to leave things better than we found them, then I think that’s something we should certainly work towards.”