Reasons The Province Should REJECT The George Crown Land Application - Environmental Reasons

Article Index


The highest and best use of this lot is for the Town of Gibsons to maintain its lease in order to protect and manage it as a valued Natural Asset and Aquifer Protection Area. 

Prior to making a decision on the amalgamation of tenures proposed in this application, FLNRORD should conduct a site visit and assess whether the tenure holder is meeting environmental stewardship obligations and determine whether any relevant environmental or other assessments that were incomplete at the time of the original decisions to approve tenure have been completed and if not, ensure additional assessments. 

 Climate Change and Sea Level Rise:

  • Predicted sea level rise is likely to threaten Winegarden Park (on the foreshore of DL 5327) if the foreshore. The C Change Study done for the Town of Gibsons (2010-2013) and current data/modelling show this site will be inundated at annual flood levels by 2030 and over half of the property will be under water by 2050. C-Change predicted potential costs of retrofits to public infrastructure in Gibsons Harbour associated with sea level rise were estimated at around $10 million in 2013.
  • In 2010, the Town included a clause in its Official Community Plan (OCP) to protect Gibsons waterfront through acquisition of a 15m geotechnical setback /linear park, through re-development asa a means to address future impacts of SLR. This clause was secretly deleted from the OCP in 2014.   
  • The growing severity of storms, tide/surge/flood levels due to climate change are already creating increasing problems with erosion of infrastructure on coastlines in BC. Development of hard infrastructure on the foreshore as proposed by the applicant will create more liabilities on public land. 

 Gibsons Aquifer: “World's Best Water” - 2005

  • Gibsons Aquifer is a highly pressurized, semi-contained aquifer. It sits as close as .5 m from ground level at this development site. Town of Gibsons’ hydrogeologist experts and authors of the Gibsons Aquifer Mapping Study (Waterline Resources) explained in a 2015 peer review report that excavations and dredging to build the proposed The George complex could result in catastrophic blow out of Gibsons Aquifer.
  • Contrary to what The George claims in its application, DL 5327 has never been dredged. The water lot in front of Winegarden Park is extremely shallow and dredging to develop the proposed infrastructure poses a serious unresolved threat to Gibsons Aquifer. 
  • Regarding proposed re-development of the marine environment, Waterline Resources has said that the applicant had provided “insufficient data to characterize the Gibsons Aquifer-Aquitard system within the proposed dredging area.” Further that “Gibsons Aquifer extends into the Gibsons Harbour and has artesian conditions within the vicinity of the proposed marine development” and “there is likely existing discharge at an unknown rate from the Gibsons Aquifer into the ocean within the Gibsons Harbour. No further peer review of the proposed project by Waterline Resources has been published since 2015.  
  • There is no replacement source to supply drinking water to the Town of Gibsons. If Gibsons lost its ability to draw water from Gibsons Aquifer, had to find a replacement source or even treat the water available to make it potable, this would bea huge financial hit to small town taxpayers.

Habitat Damage: 

  • Proposed excavations and dredging could result in the spread of contaminated sediments throughout the Harbour which would cause irreparable damage to natural valuesincluding marine biota, eelgrass, mollusks, crustaceans, forage fish, salmon, the protected resident Great Blue Herons, and other bird species in the harbour.

Contaminated Site: 

  • The George development site is a BC Registered high risk contaminated site. Crown foreshore intertidal and subtidal sediments on the site contain tributyltin (TBT) at 70 times high risk standards. TBT is an internationally banned substance; an endocrine inhibitor 14 times more toxic than mercury that bio-accumulates up the food chain. TBT has not been adequately addressed in the 2019 Remedial Plan as the applicant continues to exploit a loophole in the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) to avoid proper remediation. 
  • Proposed changes to the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) are set to be tabled in the BC Legislature within the next few months. The expectation is that changes will include numeric standards for TBT in sediments and new policies that will necessitate a more stringent review of remediation of the TBT on the Crown foreshore by the applicant. It is critical that the Province ensure that the 2019 Remedial Plan (FRCEMP) complies with the newly revised CSR. To not do so would place Gibsons’ public lands at risk.  
  • In 2019, The George abandoned its 2017 Remedial Plan for this Site in favour of a new Remedial Plan which proivdes a less protective remediation 'standard'. In the 2019 plan the applicant proposes to leave contaminated soils on the upland property where high risk exposure pathways exist and monitor these conditions in perpetuityMigraton of toxics from the upland onto the public foreshore, intertidal and subtidal areas is a serious, ongoing concern. Hypothetically, monitoring would be paid for by property owners and could become a public liability over the long-term. 
  • The 2019 plan proposes that TBT laden sediments will be excavated and dumped on land, mixed with high risk contaminated soils containing metals and hydrocarbons and then used as structural fill for the development complex. There has been NO REVIEW of this new plan.
  • Completely missing from the 2019 Remedial Plan is any detailed explanation of a dredging plan, potential impacts of proposed dredging on Gibsons Aquifer and how the applicant intends to deal with issues raised by the Town’s hydrogeology experts back in 2015. 
  • Standard license of use, lease and sub-lease agreements for Crown water lots stipulate at part1 that the user “must not sublicense, assign, mortgage or transfer this agree, or permit any person to use or occupy the Land, without our prior written consent, which consent we may withhold in our sole discretion” And at Part. 7.4that, “Prior to considering a request for our consent under section 7.1, we may require you to meet certain conditions, including… that you submit to us a “site profile…” Given that all of the Crown water lot areas contained in this application, as well as lease/licenses the applicant already holds (2439107 and 238162) are very near or adjacent to a BC High Risk Contaminated Site known to contain 10x high risk levels of tributyltin in sediments, and toxics have migrated the site, FLRNORD should ensure the Site Profile requirement is enforced for  all of the water lots included in the George Marina plan.    

Local Environmental Values

  • The Town of Gibsons’ most important priority is to protect our Natural Assets, drinking water source and natural environment. Our motto is Nature is our Most Valuable Asset.” This project puts our natural assets at risk. 
  • Public dependence on Professional Reliance to safeguard public interests is not working. The applicant’s environmental consultants have a past history of omitting to characterize key issues and submitting incomplete information to government bodies on this project. The Remedial Plan and a proposed dredging plan needs to be peer reviewed to determine if the issues identified of risk have been addressed, before any final decision is made. 
  • The public and the Town of Gibsons only received the 2019 Remedial Plan though this Crown land application process. Neither the public nor the Town has had a chance to fully review and consider whether the risks to public land associated with remediation have been resolved. On October 15, 2019, the Gibsons Council exoressed concerns abiout the new Remedial Plan and passed a resolution directing staff to access the 2019 Remedial Plan, in order to determine if it should be peer reviewed by the Town's expert consultants Waterline Resources. This 30-day consultation period is too short a time frame for  the public and the local government to do the due diligence. It is important that the Province allow the public and the Town enough time to undertake expert peer reviews before a land allocation decision is made.