A Delta-based environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that it has violated a conservation covenant that protects Burns Bog.
Eliza Olson, the president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society, spoke to the Straight today (November 24), shortly after filing the statement of claim in federal court.
“We have a lot of concerns about the impacts of the South Fraser Perimeter Road on Burns Bog and its wildlife and its inhabitants and the long-term viability of Burns Bog,” she said by phone.
The group wants work on the four-lane highway—part of the provincial Gateway Program—to be stopped or reconsidered, so the project can be changed to preserve the ecological state of the bog.
Olson, who has been involved in conservation efforts around the bog for 23 years, said the group decided to take legal action after feeling that the government “has not listened to us”.
According to her, the group asked the Corporation of Delta and Metro Vancouver to invoke the dispute-resolution clause in the conservation covenant, but they were told the permission of the federal government was needed.
Olson said she wrote to former environment minister Jim Prentice last spring asking for clarification, but didn’t receive a response.
Burns Bog, located on the south side of the Fraser River, is one of the largest raised peat bogs in the world.
One of the concerns highlighted in the group’s statement of claim is that the construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road “will have an impact on a variety of unique species and other issues that will impact the unique ecological balance of Burns Bog”.
According to the document, organisms whose habitat will be affected include sandhill cranes, various fish species, small mammals, and species at risk such as the red-backed vole.
The group is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
“The Plaintiffs seek whatever equitable and legal remedies that this Honourable Court may grant to ensure that the ecological balance of Burns Bog is maintained for future generations,” the statement of claim reads.
A representative for Environment Canada said the department wasn’t able to comment today on the lawsuit.