Why are BC’s salmon runs in decline while other Pacific nations see increases?

sockeyeA seven-month old press release from the North Pacific Anadramous Fish Commission, brought to my attention by David Ellis, raises an important question: why are Canada’s salmon stocks, especially sockeye, in decline while salmon returns to Japan, Russia, Alaska and even Korea are on the upswing?

Although this year’s chum salmon harvest was a pleasant surprise, sockeye returns are too low to support a harvest here — but not in other countries.

The international commission charged with overseeing the management of salmon fisheries, largely by controlling illegal high seas harvests, says 2015 catches were 20 percent above 2014 levels.

If so, why are BC’s sockeye runs so weak, especially in the wake of 2010’s bumper runs?

BC is the only jurisdiction that allows large-scale salmon farming. Coincidence? Ellis doesn’t think so.

In 2015, when the sockeye harvest overall rose about four percent in the North Pacific, Russia and the United States accounted for 99 percent of the harvest. Nonetheless, Canada accounted for most of the hatchery releases of sockeye.

At a time when pipeline construction is touted as a key to economic development and jobs, the loss of the sockeye fishery, which used to add hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs a year to the BC economy, is a particularly painful loss.

Why is BC, home to the Fraser River, the greatest salmon river in the world, now missing from the major wild salmon harvesters? We don’t know.


Municipal fees driving up housing costs? Let’s look at the facts: there’s no evidence of impact

city hall photoOne overdue deliverable from Victoria’s 2016 Throne Speech is a pledge to bring transparency to the impact of municipal feels on housing prices.

Such a move would be good news if it finally put an end to the hollow claim, largely propagated by some developers, that development cost levies and community amenity charges, which are used to provide key utilities and infrastructure such as sidewalks, affordable housing and daycare, actually drive up the cost of housing.

Victoria will “work with municipalities to reduce the hidden costs in home purchases,” said the speech “and to make those hidden costs clear and transparent to the home buyer.”

The Urban Development Institute has been complaining for some time that it would be able to reduce housing costs if municipalities would just cut fees. Really?

The City of Vancouver commissioned an in-depth study of the matter in 2014 and the full report is available here.

Think about it. If the city reduces its fees to manage the development of new housing, will the developer pass this saving along to the home buyer or just pocket the saving as profit? Sorry, I think the developer will charge what the market will bear. Alternatively, the developer will discount the price he is prepared to pay for the land. (Don’t ask how liveable a community would be without these investments.)

The main conclusion of the city’s Coriolis report was that developers would make off with the saving:

“Faced with a CAC, developers cannot just add the cost to their asking prices. Housing prices are set by overall supply and demand in the marketplace, so developers cannot unilaterally increase price on individual projects. Increased costs, including CACs, reduce the amount developers can pay for redevelopment sites.

“Rather than settle for reduced profit or transfer the cost forward to home buyers, developers try to transfer it back to land owners selling their land into the development market. It is the response of land owners to this downward pressure on land price that determines the impact of CACs. If fewer land owners put land into the market (because they don’t see enough incentive to sell), the pace of new development can fall. Slower development in the face of strong demand puts upward pressure on the price of all housing.

The city regularly publishes its development levies, which are used to fund basic services like roads, sidewalks, parks and other infrastructure. Without those expenditures, the developments could not happen. Read More

Vancouver Park Board poised to approve Access Without Fear for park services

Catherine Evans

Catherine Evans

The Vancouver Park Board is poised to implement an Access Without Fear policy tonight for all users of park services, following on the heels of similar decisions by City Council and the Vancouver Public Library.

Discussions are still continuing at the Vancouver Police Department on extension of the policy to that organization, the third and final city-funded body that could be covered by the council decision in April.

The staff recommendation to tonight’s Park Board meeting would approve a new policy “to support residents of Vancouver with uncertain or no immigration status and who fear detention, psychological or physical harm, or deportation when accessing Park Board services.”

The report follows on a motion taken to the board in May by Vision Vancouver park commissioner Catherine Evans. The new policy will involve common sense changes to existing policies to replace the term “citizens” with “residents.”

Identification requirements for access to programs will be clarified and reduced, although immigration status may still be sought through the Leisure Access Program’s Self Referred Application to determine eligibility for Leisure Access Benefits.

Extraordinary Chan Centre concert was fitting testimonial to Bing Thom’s incredible career

Bing Thom

Bing Thom

Today’s Vancouver Recital Society concert at the Chan Centre, starring Uzbek pianist Behzod Adburaimov, was the only tribute architect Bing Thom, who died suddenly Oct. 4 of a brain aneurysm, would have accepted.

Adburaimov’s extraordinary performance seemed to underline how Thom’s presence in the city will linger for generations, resonating through architectural interventions as dramatic as Robson Square, which he delivered under Arthur Erickson’s guidance, through to the Chan Centre itself, one of Thom’s masterpieces.

At the time of his death, Thom was celebrated globally for his work on a performing arts centre in Washington and was deeply engaged in the construction of a new opera house in Hong Kong.

Regrettably, he did not live to see some of his dreams for Vancouver realized.

Abduraimov takes his leave after Chan Centre triumph.

Abduraimov takes his leave after Chan Centre triumph.

One was the replacement of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, which he quietly championed for decades. Another was the revitalization of Chinatown, where he was mentoring an emerging new generation of activists to play a role in the community’s future. There’s little doubt, however, that both will work their way to a successful conclusion.

There was music, but no speeches at today’s event. As VRS director Leila Getz announced at the beginning, that’s all Thom would have accepted. The music was more than enough, with the packed audience calling Adburaimov back for two encores in Thom’s beautiful music box.