The Fraser ― A River in Need of Help
The Fraser River is at the heart of British Columbia. This is the longest river within BC — stretching nearly 1,400 km from the Rockies to the Salish Sea.
One of the world’s most important salmon rivers, the Fraser has been impacted by over a century of population growth and development. By the 1980s, alarm bells were ringing over the fast pace of industrial activity, urbanization and pollution from various sources. The health of the river was in jeopardy. Although the situation seemed bleak, environmental management agencies believed the river could recover if steps were taken.
One “watershed moment” came when Gordon Campbell, then Mayor of Vancouver, and John Backhouse, then Mayor of Prince George, challenged each other to "clean up their parts of the river." The joint challenge reminded everyone of the efforts needed all along the Fraser River and across jurisdictional boundaries.
Fraser River Action Plan
In 1990 the Government of Canada identified the Fraser River Basin as a major freshwater system requiring priority action. From Canada's Green Plan came the Fraser River Action Plan (FRAP). Jointly sponsored by the federal Departments of the Environment and Fisheries and Oceans, FRAP was modelled on the Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP), which was helping create inter-agency cooperation on estuary management.
FRAP made a good start on restoring the environmental health of the Fraser River and the Basin. The program encouraged collective stewardship and cooperative partnerships, and helped people understand how their actions could improve (or harm) watershed health. FRAP protected wild bird habitat, curtailed the release of toxic wood preservatives, and helped introduce some best management practices and pollution prevention plans for business and industry.
FBC’s Predecessor — Fraser Basin Management Board
The Fraser Basin Management Board was created in 1992 to address some of the river management issues identified in the Fraser River Action Plan. The FBMB was composed of representatives from the four orders of Canadian government (federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations), along with those from the private sector and civil society.
Over its five-year mandate, the FBMB demonstrated the value of leaders working together in collaboration on complex issues. In brief, FBMB:
In addition to these legacy projects, a key outcome was a strategic plan for the social, economic and environmental health of the Basin. This plan became the Charter for Sustainability. The principles of the Charter remain a cornerstone of FBC’s work today.