The Fraser Basin Council works in communities across British Columbia. Both our name and history, however, are grounded in the Fraser River Basin, the land drained by the Fraser River and its tributaries − home to two-thirds of BC residents.
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 — 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.
The Fraser River and the Basin have been highly impacted by well 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, 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.
In the course of its five-year mandate, the FBMB demonstrated the value of leaders working together in collaboration on complex issues. In brief, FBMB:
Charter for Sustainability
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.
Creation of the Council
The Fraser Basin Council was created in 1997 as a non-profit organization to continue the the good work begun by the FBMP. The Charter became a touchstone for the new organization and remains so today.
Over the course of its 26 years, the Fraser Basin Council has delivered a wide range programs and services throughout the Fraser Basin and other parts of BC, including initiatives that serve all of the Province. Today our work focuses primarily on three strategic areas: sustainable and resilient communities, climate change action and — as always — healthy watersheds and water resources.