Dear Bell Canada,
It recently came to FOCA’s attention that boats used by Bell in rural Ontario may not be routinely inspected for aquatic invasive species, washed at the end of each day, nor between individual lake visits. This was disappointing to hear, needless to say, as our association works diligently to encourage ALL boaters to do their part to protect our waterways. (http://foca.on.ca/invasive-species/)
FOCA is the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations, a not-for-profit organization with over 500 member associations across Ontario that represent 50,000 waterfront property owning families. Our member groups represent the interests of local residents and are focussed on healthy and sustainable lake environments.
On behalf of our membership we have a specific question: what actions has Bell taken / will be taking in 2016 to minimize the impacts from invasive species transfer related to the movement of boats vehicles and equipment, and how does your operations/training support the efforts to reduce the transport and spread of invasives?
The Province of Ontario places a high priority on reducing the risks from the unintended introduction of invasive species in the Province. (See http://www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/how-government-combats-invasive-species for more information).
The source of these harmful introductions include transient ATV or off-road vehicles (for on-land or terrestrial species like dog-strangling vine), and transient/trailered boat movements (for aquatic invasive species such as Zebra Mussels or Round Goby).
Given the breadth and scope of Bell’s activities and the amount of vehicular movement your rural employees are involved with, we feel it is very important that your organization does its part to reduce the threat of harmful species spread.
We would be pleased to work with you and your employees to help share this message, and to make cleaning your equipment an integrated part of your ongoing field activities.
Attached is one example of some simple best management practices that we recommend be embedded in your training and operational routines.
Given that Bell explicitly recognizes the importance of protecting the environment and at-risk species, and has a commitment to mitigating the impacts of your operations, this material may integrate well with your training, including best practices and environmental procedures that Bell employees and contractors must follow.
We look forward to your response. We would love to share Bell Canada’s plans to embed best practices in your activities with our members in an upcoming FOCA Elert or newsletter. We’d love to showcase “leading by example”.
Terry Rees, FOCA