By Roy L Hales
In the summer of 2016, a subsidiary of one of the world’s leading aggregate companies announced it was about to commence exploratory surface drilling in the Lloyd Creek Area of Desolation Sound. This is in close proximity to the region’s foremost kayak and boating area and, consequently, brings a substantial income to local businesses. Had the venture gone forward, one of the regions few remaining old growth forests would have been cut down, an important fish bearing creek would have been devastated and a number of important indigenous sites would have been threatened. Lehigh Hanson Materials abandoned its application, but local author Judith Williams talks about a new threat to Desolation Sound.
Gravel Is In Short Supply
“Gravel is in short supply throughout the world … and we use gravel to build all kinds of things, so people are looking for deposits,” she explains, in the podcast above.
A new company has applied to do exploration on the gravel deposit at Lloyd Creek. While they offer the local area little benefit after the initial construction phase, the potential negative impacts are significant.
Jewell Of The Mid Coast
“Desolation Sound is really the jewell of the Mid Coast of British Columbia … There are these huge marine parks,” says Williams.
They spread out from Price point, just south of Lloyd Creek, to the kayak heaven better known as Mink Island. She describes the area as a magnet for boating, camping and kayaking. The stores at Lund, Refuge Cove, Squirrel Cove and the Gorge supply them with gas, ice, groceries, alcohol and more.
“If you want to go north from here, which some people do, you unfortunately have to go through some rapids. A lot of boaters do not like to go through rapids, particularly sail boats which are slow … One of the reasons people stay in the Desolation Sound area, is they do not have to do that,” explains Williams.
She predicts that significantly fewer tourists would come to the area if an industrial scale gravel plant opens at Lloyd Creek. While the noise could travel as far as Seaford and Mary Point on the eastern shore of Cortes, it would be most keenly heard on the water.
“If they are running great big metal troughs, you are going to hear stuff … People will say, I’m not going up there. It’s noisy and dusty and they keep dragging these big barges past us all the time.”
“This is the kind of thing that ecologically minded people would be really interested in because there is such a problem from the effect on fish, on the spawning of the fish, the fish moving through the channel to other areas – up into Toba Inlet etc,” says Williams.
First Nations Sites
She also describes Desolation Sound as an important area for First Nations.
“I can find structures everywhere at low tide and they extend from Price Point to outside Portage Cove … I consider the clam gardens artifacts, they are just large ones. If I took you there at zero tide in April or May, I can show you many things, including fish traps. It is just a productive area for food. Just North of Lloyd Creek is Forbes Bay and that is always a huge salmon run with fish traps and a village site.”
When Robert Humfray came up in the 1860s, he met First Nations people transporting fish from Forbes Bay to more southern locations, like Flea village in the present marine park.
There are a lot of pictographs in Humfray channel, one of the most important being a well known sea serpent directly across from Lloyd Creek on East Redonda Island.
Destruction To Lloyd Creek
In addition to this, Lloyd Creek has one of the remaining stands of old growth trees that has never been logged. While some of it is on flat ground, most is on slopes that are more difficult to access. These would need to be removed.
“If you got permission to take out the gravel, that’s the end of Lloyd Creek. Once you got going, you would kind of strip mine the area. The gravel has to be brought down to the water, to be put on barges.”
The BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations is expected to decide whether to issue a drilling permit today (March 25, 2019).
“I think the travesty is to insert into this truly magnificent waterway, an industrial gravel pit which is not needed by us. It is only needed by a company that needs to make money out of gravel. They won’t employ local people, other than maybe a watchman. I would think they will import all of their equipment and workers. You may get a few people setting things up, but it won’t last and the gravel won’t last either.”
“Why destroy a fish bearing creek for no advantage to the area? You’ll never be able to protect the pictographs across the channel, there is bound to be dirt and dust and God knows what. Our big income is from tourism. It wouldn’t be destroyed but it would be effected.”
For further information contact Judith Williams at 250-935-0194.
Top photo credit: Pictograph gallery, East Redonda Island, Homfray Channel, 2016. Photo Judith Williams