Discussions over the Endako weir, reached a new stage with in-person engagement and information sessions held by the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFFCA) last week.
On July 22, two on-person sessions were held at the Island Gospel Fellowship church auditorium by UFFCA. These sessions covered the things that were discussed during the alliance’s online engagement sessions. However, with a different audience, there were a lot of questions and concerns raised which the UFFCA was able to address, said Andreas Krebs, the representative from UFFCA who is responsible for communications and the engagement plan for the project.
“It went very well. There were pretty active discussions and it was very clear that people in Burns Lake care a lot about endangered salmon and we were able to answer a lot of questions that they had about the project and health of the lake,” said Krebs.
The engagement session was attended mostly by those who were unable to participate in the online sessions. The initial four sessions held by the organization were online due to the COVID restrictions.
“We were so glad that the restrictions were lifted when they did because we could hold this in-person session. We had several people, seniors from Gerow Island for example, who were not comfortable using a computer, so this session was perfect,” he said.
Concerns expressed were mostly around lake health and there was also a discussion around what needs to be going in the monitoring plan and the UFFCA, according to Krebs, tried to resolve these concerns and give accurate information on what the project is about.
“There were concerns around high water levels, there was a lot of concern around beavers. It is important to know that the Endako river is such that it is created by beavers and those will be needed to be around. There was also discussion around bringing back some of the fish from way back in the 60s,” said Krebs, adding, “I was positively surprised to hear the amount of concern there is for the health of the lake and the salmon.”
According to Krebs, there is still some engagement left to do with other First Nations around the area, some research that needs to be completed. There was also a waste water study completed and UFFCA would be going back to the Village of Burns Lake and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, to present the results they got from the study as well as from the engagement sessions. Next would be the permit application that would go to the province as a complete package, and according to Krebs, the nature of the project is such that the federal government is also involved.
“We want to assure everyone that these community engagements are not just lip service, all the responses received, the monitoring plan, everything will be included in the package that the province will receive,” said Krebs.
A survey on the UFFCA website about the Endako Weir is still open. Participants will be entered to win a $100 VISA gift card once they fill out the survey here – www.surveymonkey.com/r/endakoweir. This survey will be open until the end of July.