Wren project further delayed

A Department of Fisheries and Oceans letter does not indicate when final approval will happen

Mission’s new council expressed disappointment Tuesday evening about a letter sent from the federal minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) regarding a proposed $80-million commercial and residential development application that has been waiting over two years to get environmental approval.

MP Keith Ashfield’s letter explains that the original proposal at Wren Street and Lougheed Highway included 12 acres of riparian fish habitat, watercourses and wetlands, and impacted endangered species, such as the provincially red-listed Oregon Forestsnail (OFS), which is why it was initially rejected in 2009.

Though DFO actually signed off on a mitigation plan for the fishery habitat this July, it is concerns from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources (MFLNRO) and Environment Canada about the snail that has delayed final approval.

The letter concludes without any indication of when, or how long, that will happen.

“I was particularly disappointed in this because the previous council specifically requested a timeline,” said Coun. Jenny Stevens.

Former Coun. Paul Horn, speaking during question period, suggested DFO is playing “tug of war” and nobody wants to let go of the rope.

“What is it they’re hoping the city will do?”

Mayor Ted Adlem led a motion to invite DFO representatives to come to council and explain.

But during question period former mayoral candidate Mike Gildersleeve accused the new council of being biased.

Adlem disagreed.

“I’ve made up my mind that the [developer] deserves a public hearing,” said Adlem, adding it was question period and not “political speech period.”

In a Dec. 2 letter obtained by The Record, MFLNRO regional executive director Heather MacKnight writes, “research has shown that evidence of OFS in Canada appears to be considerably higher” than previously believed and this new information will be considered by the province in making its decision.