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Sicamous committee vows to continue a fight for more funding to stop invasive mussels

Council fights mussel threat

Sicamous council members vowed to continue to fight for funding to stop the spread of invasive mussels after hearing a presentation on B.C.’s invasive mussel defence program.

At the March 13 Sicamous committee of the whole meeting, representatives from the B.C. Ministry of Water, Lands and Resource Stewardship gave a presentation about the province’s efforts to fight the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels.

Council thanked representatives for their presentation and praised their hard work to keep invasive mussels from spreading. Some council members also stressed the importance of securing more funding for the program.

Coun. Pam Beech said despite the great work the mussel defence team is doing, she’s still very concerned about the issue.

“I don't like to play negative Nancy and I appreciate every border crossing and checkpoint that we can get,” Beech said.

“But I have to say that we cannot negate the fact that a mussel might get through into one of our 20,000 lakes or one of our 51 river systems because we we don't have enough checkpoints at border crossings to make sure that's not happening.”

She thanked representatives for doing the work.

“I just wanted to stress this is a huge issue, and we all need to really keep pushing and I would encourage the public to inform themselves and start writing letters.”

Mayor Colleen Anderson agreed there aren’t enough mussel inspection checkpoints.

“To Coun. Beech’s point, we don't have enough and they need to be consistent,” Anderson said. “We had folks coming in last summer that drove through the Golden border and there was no one there.”

Anderson said council is committed to securing more funding to ensure the invasive species doesn't spread.

“We will continue to fight for funding, because the government has reduced the funding for this program whereas this program is key to the continued success of B.C.,” Andersons said.

“We are a tourism industry, that's our business. We welcome people from all over the world, quagga and zebra mussels will destroy our beaches and our water systems.”

She also added the fines for not stopping at a checkpoint are too low.

“If you go through border crossing without stopping it's $345 — that’s nothing,” Anderson said, adding travellers skipping these stops should be faced with serious fines.

“If you're caught with quagga or zebra mussels because you're not following ‘clean, drain and dry’ from one body of water to another, the fine for that is not high enough.

“You can throw a potato chip bag out the window and litter and it's $2,000, that's the fine, but here we're going to litter our lakes."

Residents can learn more about the B.C. invasive mussel defence program and the mussel inspection border checkpoints through the program website.



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