Comox Valley Regional District
What is the Baynes Sound Coastal Plan? It is a combination of using the planning jurisdiction the regional district has over Baynes Sound along with the implementation of a broader program that would bring together the agencies responsible for Baynes Sound, the research groups studying the sound, and representatives from community stakeholders. The goal is to properly recognize conservation and recreational areas of Baynes Sound while ensuring that the areas used for aquaculture maintain the integrity of the Baynes Sound ecosystem by following healthy ecologically sound practices.
The first step will be to follow-up the recent Rural Comox Valley Official Community Plan with a local area plan for the water in Baynes Sound that lies within the regional districts jurisdiction. This will clearly delineate which areas should be used for conservation and recreation and which areas continue to be used for aquaculture. With this in place the zoning bylaw can then be aligned with the Baynes Sound Local Area Plan.
The Comox First Nation, the Province, the Federal Government, the Comox Valley Regional District and the Islands Trust each have particular jurisdictional roles over the sound. At this time coordination between these levels of government is limited. In addition the needs and wishes of the upland residents surrounding the Sound are often not taken fully into account by all jurisdictions. Dialogue between stakeholders is limited.
Just over the southern border of the Comox Valley we have the Vancouver Island University Deep Bay Marine Field Station whose mission is to support both pure and applied coastal and marine research activities related to: sustainable shellfish aquaculture development; preservation of coastal ecosystems; and inter-disciplinary projects involving local communities.
Added to this is a somewhat unique situation is that we have a significant shellfish aquaculture industry (the largest in British Columbia) adjacent to a rural residential area where people have chosen to live here so that can enjoy the natural surroundings afforded by the Sound.
The long range ambitious goal of the Baynes Sound Coastal Plan is to bring these disparate pieces together so that we can produce a plan that meets the needs of both the Baynes Sound residents who live here to enjoy its natural beauty and those who live here and earn a living from its bounty.
In 2002 the province commissioned a study on how to address the concerns raised by the various stakeholders around Baynes Sound and the Shellfish Aquaculture Industry. This study made a number of recommendations on how the Sound should be managed to provide a sustainable industry. This included criteria that should be followed before any expansion takes place, including proper science on the capacity of Baynes Sound and proper consultation with the stakeholder who would be impacted by the expansion including the upland residents. The report Baynes Sound Coast Plan for Shellfish Aquaculture was published in December 2002 and may be found here.
Unfortunately many of the recommendations in this report have yet to be implemented. As part of my second phase, my goal is to work with the province and the other governments and agencies that have responsibility for aspects of Baynes Sound to see that at least the recommendations made in that report are implemented.