Letters to the Editor for the week of March 12th 

  • Squamish Chief File photo

Salmon must come first

Returning the Squamish River estuary to its previous state is not a priority for Rebecca Aldous and her friends who prefer windsurfing and kiteboarding (Letters to the Editor, Pique, March 5).

To hell with the environment. Rebecca appears to feel that there will be a loss of access to the kiteboarding site. She does refer to the removal of the spit as a noble attempt to enhance the salmon population but she points out that there is no guarantee that the salmon will respond as planned.

No doubt she is aware that when the Squamish Spit was built 30 to 40 years ago as a possible coal terminal, environmental activists were out in force trying to prevent the construction. Now people who are involved in hedonistic pursuits want to keep the Spit so they can continue playing with their toys.

Chinook salmon numbers have declined from historic runs of 19,000 prior to the construction of the spit to 500 by the mid-1980s. We assume that the decline was in large part due to the influences of the Spit, but there are numerous other factors affecting salmon.

Through the efforts of staff at the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery, chinook returns are now about 5,000 but very few of these are "wild" fish. Most of them are hatchery-raised. Chinook returns in 2019 were in accordance with current returns.

The catastrophic decline in chum, pink and coho is equally worrying. Steelhead have virtually disappeared. All salmonids that return to the Squamish River system are in decline and the estuary is vital to all of them. The loss of the Squamish River chum salmon run is having a major effect on numerous other species, which depend on the salmon carcasses for nutrients. That run was in the order of 10,000 fish 10 years ago.

Waterfowl, which used to abound at the mouth of the river, have become a rarity. This is what it also agonizingly heartbreaking, but Ms. Aldous and her merry band of sailors don't seem to care.

We need to work together to find a mutually beneficial solution. Baja California and Cape Town, South Africa, are both world-class kiteboarding destinations so to say that the Squamish Spit is unique is not strictly accurate.

A pristine estuary would certainly attract tourists particularly if the Brackendale bald eagle population were restored. Coastal estuaries produce sedge grasses, which are sought after by grizzly bears. Bear watching could become a huge attraction for Squamish. The river used to be known for Steelhead fishing and if they returned the industry could become a major economic driving force.

Ms. Aldous tells us that representatives from wind and water sports were absent from a meeting at the Spit with the federal government, First Nations and local government without explanation.

Clearly, I support the removal of the Spit, as there are far too few wild places in the world close to urban centres to simply discard them in favour of non-natural recreational endeavours.

Efforts to get the estuary back on track must start immediately: salmon cannot wait. The Squamish winds will indeed continue to blow for eons so there should be ample opportunity for everyone to enjoy Howe Sound.

Admittedly the Squamish Windsports Society has done its best to represent its members in discussions with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Squamish First Nations and the Squamish River Watershed Society. Ms. Aldous et al should be encouraged to get behind their society to help find a solution.

A petition is a good place to start. There is still much more to do.

Nigel Mathews // Pemberton

Cinnamon buns wanted

I'm Meya and I am 12 years old and I [spent] one week at Whistler, and on the last day my parents promised me a cinnamon bun from Chic Pea Hut.

So, finally when Friday came, we went to Chic Pea Hut at 2 p.m. and they close at 3 p.m., and they were out!

I was so mad and disappointed. How could a cafe be so famous for their cinnamon buns but not even last the whole day?

It ruined my whole week. I was so sad I was crying because I wanted to spend my money on a cinnamon roll!

Meya Haglof McCallum // Seattle

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