Fraser Basin Council
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Our History

The Fraser Basin Council works in communities throughout British Columbia.

Our name and story began in the Fraser River Basin, the land drained by the Fraser River and its tributaries − and home to two-thirds of BC residents.

The Fraser ― A River in Need of Help

Fraser River aerial in the river's lower reaches

A Fraser River aerial showing the river's lower reaches. Photo: A Jansen

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 — and one of the world's great wild salmon rivers. The Fraser Basin is BC's largest, and Canada’s fifth largest, drainage system — 240,000 square km (roughly a quarter of the province).  For a sense of the scale, consider that all of Great Britain, or most of California, could fit within it.

First Nations were the first to recognize its special nature and enjoy its bounty. Indigenous people have lived beside the river since the vast glaciers started receding 10,000 years ago and the Fraser River, as we know it, was born.

Following British and European settlement, the Fraser River and the Basin were impacted by over a century of intensive population growth and development. By the 1980s, alarm bells were ringing over the fast pace of industrial and agricultural 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, 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 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 the course of its five-year mandate (1992-1997), the FBMB demonstrated the value of leaders working together in collaboration on complex issues by:

  • sharing “who does what” in the Fraser Basin
  • creating stronger connections among agencies
  • identifying some sustainability issues on which to work

The FBMB launched eight demonstration projects in watersheds, engaging multiple interests in each region:

  • Salmon River Watershed Roundtable (Thompson/Salmon Arm)
  • Nicola Watershed Community Roundtable (Thompson/Merritt)
  • Salmon River Watershed Management (Lower Fraser/Langley)
  • Nahatlatch Integrated Resource Management Plan (Fraser Valley/Canyon)
  • Prince George Riverfront Trails Project (Upper Fraser/Prince George)
  • Williams Lake River Valley Corridor Project (Cariboo-Chilcotin/Williams Lake)
  • Alouette River Watershed Project (Fraser Valley/Maple Ridge)
  • Baker Creek Enhancement (Cariboo-Chilcotin/Quesnel)

Creation of the Fraser Basin Council

As the FBMB wrapped up its five-year program, support emerged for a successor organization.

Under the leadership of Chair Iona Campagnolo, the Fraser Basin Council was formed in 1997 as a non-profit organization and attained charitable status in 1998.

A Charter for Sustainability

 

Signing of a Charter for Sustainability

A Charter for Sustainability became a guidance document for the new Fraser Basin Council.

A key legacy of the Fraser Basin Management Board was a strategic plan for the social, economic and environmental health of the Basin. This Charter for Sustainability was signed in 1997 by 17 leaders and citizens, and it served as a foundation guidance document for the new Fraser Basin Council.

A Definition of Sustainability

The Charter defines sustainability this way:

“Living and managing activities in a way that balances social, economic, environmental and institutional considerations to meet our needs and those of future generations.”

A Vision for the Basin, and Beyond

The Charter also crystallizes a vision of the Fraser Basin as a place where “social well-being is supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy environment.” Today FBC continues to support this vision for all of British Columbia.

The Charter speaks to the importance of people in all walks of life understanding sustainability, caring for ecosystems, strengthening their communities and improving decision-making at all levels. There is also recognition, under Principle 11, that Aboriginal rights and titles now being defined should be reconciled in a fair and just manner.

The Charter expresses a commitment to shared values. Among these is to understand and respect the opinions of others, accept others as peers, value balance over extreme positions, take action based on consensus, and create trust among people.

 

Take a look at the above flipbook or download the Charter for Sustainability in PDF.

About the Fraser Basin Council

The Fraser Basin Council (FBC) is a charitable non-profit organization that brings people together to advance sustainability in British Columbia.

Where We Work

We are grateful to live and work on the unceded ancestral territories of the Indigenous Nations of British Columbia.

Our Vision

Social well-being supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy environment.

Strategic Priorities

At the Fraser Basin Council, our strategic priorities are to take action on climate change, support healthy watersheds and water resources, and build sustainable and resilient communities.

With our partners, we work on a range of collaborative, multi-sector initiatives, such as those focused on flood management, community wildfire planning, air quality improvement, energy-efficient buildings, green transportation (including the uptake of electric vehicles and expansion of charging infrastructure), watershed planning and youth-driven climate action projects.

FBC Program Sites

Plug in BC:
www.pluginbc.ca

Emotive:
www.emotivebc.ca

ReTooling for Climate Change:
www.retooling.ca

FBC Youth:
fbcyouthprogram.ca

Climate Action Toolkit:
www.toolkit.bc.ca 

Salmon-Safe BC
www.salmonsafe.ca

Realizing UNDRIP Initiative
www.realizingundrip.ca

Contact Us

FBC staff work from our Vancouver, Kamloops, Williams Lake and Prince George offices, and from several other locations.

To reach us, see FBC Offices and FBC Staff or contact our administration office:

Fraser Basin Council
1st Floor, 470 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5

T: 604 488-5350

E: