Press Releases

For our first press release, please see the home page. Please click the following links to read the press releases.

September 2, 2016: Four-month campaign to name Salish Sea a World Heritage Site begins

September 29, 2016: Comment: Make the Salish Sea a World Heritage Site

November 19, 2016: Comment: Like the rainforest, Salish Sea deserves protection

January 26, 2017: Campaign to Declare the Salish Sea a World Heritage Site Begins

January 28, 2017: Canadian heritage sites seek ‘ultimate seal of approval’ with UNESCO designation

February 8, 2017: BC Heritage Week Discovers a Prize in World Heritage Site Application

February 16, 2017: World Heritage Site designation sought for Saanich Peninsula’s Salish Sea

March 3, 2017: Economic Boost expected from Salish Sea World Heritage Site



Four-month campaign to name the Salish Sea a World Heritage Site begins
CTV Vancouver Island Published Friday, September 2, 2016 12:37PM PDT

A campaign has kicked off on Canada’s west coast to have the Salish Sea declared a World Heritage Site.

“The Salish Sea is a unique inner sea with a long history of providing food and sustenance, habitat and biodiversity for marine species, and a wealth of resources to all those living alongside its shores,” stated Laurie Gourlay, the interim director of the Salish Sea Trust that’s in charge of the new campaign.

The Salish Sea, which has been registered as a non-profit society, extends across the U.S.-Canada border and has been the subject of many studies, conferences, and proposals.

“The Salish Sea’s historical, cultural and natural heritage is rich and reflects the highest tenets and objectives of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites,” Gourlay said.

The Salish Sea Trust has begun its four-month campaign to submit the application to be reviewed by Parks Canada.

It will then be forwarded to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Site program in January.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made it an election promise to increase Canada’s marine protected areas – five per cent by 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020.

In August, Trudeau invited Canadians to nominate areas as candidates for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the nominations will be revealed in 2017 in honour of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The minister is working on a committee consisting of heritage experts to look over submissions for Canada’s next world heritage bid.

To gain world heritage status, sites must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, World Heritage Sites are areas assigned by UNESCO with the goal of preserving places of “cultural, natural and historic significance.”

There are 18 World Heritage Sites in Canada – the oldest being Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories, designated in 1978, and the newest is the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland, designated in 2016.

With files from the Canadian Press

Comment: Make the Salish Sea a World Heritage Site

Laurie Gourlay / Times Colonist

September 29, 2016 12:51 AM

This is a legacy moment for the Salish Sea, and for all of us who live by the shores of this important, biodiverse and world-class inner ocean. Right now, we have a chance to protect it as a World Heritage Site, and to set development plans in place so our West Coast inheritance becomes the model for 21st-century marine initiatives everywhere.

And there are a lot of marine protected areas to come. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to protect five per cent of Canada’s coast by 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020. U.S. President Barack Obama has already set the pace this past month in Hawaii and the Atlantic. Add to this commitments coming out of Washington, D.C.’s recent Our Ocean Conference.

Many sea-reliant countries are worried, calling for increased ocean restoration and protection measures in light of climate change and disturbing news on the decline of the health and productivity of the oceans we increasingly depend upon.

This week’s visit by the royal couple has confirmed the importance of protecting nature and our ecosystems as the foundation for our society’s prosperity and progress.

Remarks by Prince William, Premier Christy Clark and First Nations expressing pride in recognizing seven per cent of the province, the Great Bear Rainforest, as a “gift to the world,” firmly establish what we have all suspected for a long time — we live in a place that is the envy of everyone. It’s our responsibility to do all we can to keep it healthy and thriving for future generations.

Here in the backyard of eight million west coasters, Americans and Canadians alike, is the Salish Sea, a maritime home to 3,000 species, many unique. Somehow, we have overlooked the historical, cultural and natural significance embodied in this world-class inheritance.

The Salish Sea is the ocean and marine equivalent of the Great Bear Rainforest. It deserves to be similarly recognized and protected. Designating it as a World Heritage Site will boost our economy, lay the foundation for a better West Coast quality of life, and right the wrongs of our ancestors.

In August, Trudeau invited all Canadians to submit applications to have UNESCO consider places of “outstanding universal value” as World Heritage Sites. Submissions are due as 2017 begins. It’s also Canada’s turn to step up to the plate and protect our coastlines, and it’s Canada’s 150th birthday — an exceptional opportunity lies before us.

Canada and the U.S. have a major stake in working together for the health and restoration of the Salish Sea. It’s time for a serious reconciliation and healing with First Nations. We can learn a lot from the 5,000 years that First Nations lived sustainably along these shores.

We should adapt the best co-management practices of the state of Washington, the cogovernance measures of B.C’s Islands Trust, and respect aboriginal rights and title. It’s the right thing to do, and all our long-term interests will be furthered.

It is time to commit, to stand strong and confident in our ability to work together, and to further our wish to prosper together. First Nations, many of whom this sea is named after and honours, and non-natives can work together to define a vision and guiding principles for the future of the Salish Sea.

Recognition of the Salish Sea as a World Heritage Site will benefit us all, and be a significant “gift to the world.” It’s a win-win for many, many reasons.

We can embrace our legacy, our heritage and our place in a world that’s ready to address a future that balances environmental, cultural and economic needs. And we can transcend the difficulties that divide while protecting the beauty and wonders of a world that has been gifted to us all, every one.

This we can do, beginning here with a Salish Sea World Heritage Site.


Laurie Gourlay is interim director of the Salish Sea Trust.

Salish Sea Trust, Box 333, Cedar, B.C., V9X 1W1

250.722.3444, <> (


Comment: Like the rainforest, Salish Sea deserves protection

Laurie Gourlay / Times Colonist

November 19, 2016 12:24 AM

As I write this, the Queen and Premier Christy Clark are in Buckingham Palace honouring the Great Bear Rainforest, recognizing its global importance within the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

Environmentalist that I am, an admirer of this important legacy, I can’t help but wonder whether I will ever see this gift to the world, ever gaze upon the intertwining ecosystems where the spirit bear walks among the wild creatures and great forests of the world.

And if truth be told, I am envious, wishing for just such economic and environmental balance right here where I live, on the edge of the Salish Sea. Here, where some eight million people live and 3,000 species co-exist in the deep waters, channels and estuaries from Campbell River to Puget Sound.

I am pleased to know that mountain peaks and far-off lands are protected in B.C.’s sparsely populated coast, and I understand the need to retain representative samples of habitat and restorative pockets of untrammelled nature. I just don’t expect to go to those places very often, to see or experience this global treasure that’s the size of Ireland and which “all British Columbians have a stake in protecting.”

Forgive me, but I don’t understand why we can’t have such ecosystem-based management of our natural resources and world-class environment right here in our backyard, where the most benefits for the most people can be had at the least cost.

I’m not dissing the Queen’s recognition, nor taking issue with the efforts of all those who have worked so hard to see the Great Bear Rainforest honoured and protected. Don’t get me wrong.

I am asking why we can’t have the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy recognize the Salish Sea, the marine equivalent of the Great Bear Rainforest. The forests of the world need saving, no doubt, but so, too, do the world’s oceans need such attention and protection. Now more than ever, if we’re to believe the growing international call to recognize the challenges they face, and the care and investment needed to restore the waters of our blue planet.

Which brings me to the edge of our unique inner sea, which many rare and endangered species still call home, where the yachts of the rich and privileged mingle with the fishing boats and outboard-motor crowd. Where we all have a chance to walk the shores of a relatively healthy ecosystem, and where the promise of a global economic and environmental treasure hangs in the balance of decisions we’ll make over the next few years.

Given this chance to help determine our common future, I choose the Salish Sea as a world heritage site of such significance and importance as deserving of the recognition and protections bestowed upon the Great Bear Rainforest.

Our window on the Pacific Ocean, with all its historical, cultural and natural heritage should be healthy and protected, for the benefit of all.

Wondrous vistas and unpolluted waters should be the inheritance we leave. A wealthy and productive marine ecosystem should be our economic bottom line, where marine mammals, fish, kelp forests and clambeds thrive. We should expect to go down to the sea for an afternoon’s outing and be able to show family and visitors all the beauty and treasures that our ocean has to give. All our present and future needs can be met with the proper care and planning.

Canada’s governor general should welcome the royal family back to our shores, speak to the pride Canadians have for our environment, and formally recognize and protect the West Coast beauty, biodiversity and heritage embodied in the Salish Sea.

If we can find the will to recognize the Great Bear Rainforest, and the Queen can use her position to underline the importance of all the great forests of the world, then surely we can find a way to protect the world-class waters of the Salish Sea.

We all have a stake in our coast’s future. Let’s keep the Salish Sea healthy and protected forever, a gift to the world as Canada turns 150 years old. Let’s leave a legacy that our children and theirs will be proud of.

Laurie Gourlay is interim director of the Salish Sea Trust.

© Copyright Times Colonist



January 26, 2017: Campaign to Declare the Salish Sea a World Heritage Site Begins

Initiative for Ocean Protection, Sustainable Development & Climate Change

September 1, 2016 [Vancouver Island] – With the world in mind, a local campaign has begun on Canada’s west coast to have the Salish Sea declared a World Heritage Site.

“The Salish Sea is a unique inner sea with a long history of providing food and sustenance, habitat and biodiversity for marine species, and a wealth of resources to all those living alongside its shores,”  stated Laurie Gourlay, the interim director of the Salish Sea Trust that’s in charge of the new campaign. “The Salish Sea’s historical, cultural and natural heritage is rich and reflects the highest tenets and objectives of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.”

In August Prime Minister Trudeau invited Canadians to submit applications to UNESCO, the first time in a decade that Canadians have had such an opportunity. Both Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama have made promises to substantially increase marine protection areas, with President Obama recently declaring the largest marine protected area in the world, in the Hawaiian ocean waters.

“Thinking globally and acting locally we are doubly pleased to note today’s announcement by Pope Francis, that the environment’s health is a critical mission for us all,” Gourlay added. “And with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) beginning it’s ten-day conference in Hawaii, the health of the planet’s oceans being prominently addressed, we look forward to working in tandem with world leadership as sustainable development comes to the forefront.”

The election promise of Prime Minister Trudeau, to increase Canada’s marine protected areas by 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020 also suggests that new approaches and partnerships will be welcome in meeting the needs of all sectors and interests in the country. Locally the federal government, in concert with past promises by BC’s government, has recently renewed discussions to establish a southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (NMCAR).

“We are heartened by the opportunity offered as Canada’s 150th birthday begins, and the legacy we can leave our children,” Gourlay adds. “At the same time we are also mindful of the interests and rights of the First Nations peoples who have lived here by the Salish Sea for thousands of years.”

First Nation leadership on BC’s north coast this past summer saw a precedent-setting Marine Area Protection Plan put in place with the Province of BC. “Federal government infrastructure funding for Haida Gwaii and its NMCAR, as well as the World Heritage Site which is presently under UNESCO consideration offer the language and means by which a Salish Sea World Heritage Site designation might reflect the best aspirations and interests of First Nations peoples and all who live here,” Gourlay added.

The Salish Sea is also fortunate in that it extends across the US/Canada border and has been the subject of many studies, conferences and proposals – including measures that respect jurisdictional, governance and international treaties. The background work and identification of interests has been thoroughly addressed, preparing the way for this proposal to designate the Salish Sea as a World Heritage Site.

“Designating the Salish Sea as a World Heritage Site, with all of the expectations to maintain ecological systems and sustainability will meet the promises, wishes and obligations which Canadians have as global citizens,” according to Gourlay. ” The cooperation and partnership building that leads to the Salish Sea being designated a World Heritage Site will extend across a decade, and in the process will build strong communities – providing a significant contribution to our local economies as well as meeting Canada’s global obligations as stewards of the environment.”

The Salish Sea Trust has been registered as a non-profit society, and is now beginning a four-month campaign to submit an application that will be reviewed by Parks Canada before being submitted to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site program in late January 2017. Partnership across all sectors and interests is welcome – click here to learn more.



January 28, 2017: Canadian heritage sites seek ‘ultimate seal of approval’ with UNESCO designation

Canadian sites had until Friday to submit their applications to receive UNESCO World Heritage designations, entering into a competitive process to join the world’s most exclusive heritage club.

Quebec’s Anticosti Island is one site looking to receive the ‘ultimate seal of approval’ with a UNESCO World Heritage designation.  (Parc National D’Anticosti)  

By Allan Woods Quebec Bureau

Sat., Jan. 28, 2017

Many will apply but few will be chosen.

The deadline for Canadian submissions to join the world’s most exclusive heritage club closed Friday, ending a frenzied period of preparation for sites with stunning cultural and natural value seeking what one expert called “the ultimate seal of approval.”

There are just 1,052 sites around the globe that have received UNESCO World Heritage designation. Each year, only about two dozen more are added to the list, which includes the likes of the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids.

There are currently 18 Canadian sites on the UNESCO list, including Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, the historic fortified section of Quebec City, the Rideau Canal in eastern Ontario and Gros Morne National Park, a geological marvel on the west coast of Newfoundland.

No one will say how many submissions Parks Canada must now sift through in order to select up to 10 new sites for the replenishment of Canada’s so-called Tentative List, which is made up of sites deemed most likely to one day receive UNESCO’s anointment.

The last time the federal government sought bids, in 2004, there were “well over 100 nominations,” said Christophe Rivet, president of ICOMOS Canada, which advises UNESCO on cultural heritage properties in the country.

Submissions must meet at least one of 10 UNESCO conditions, such as exhibiting cultural importance, natural value or architectural, industrial or historical significance in order to be considered.

The most important is that the site must demonstrate “outstanding universal value.”

“Your site needs to compare with every other site in the world currently throughout human history,” Rivet explained. “You don’t need to multiply your arguments. You need to figure out the argument that will bring you to the top.”

Bids will be reviewed by a panel of experts named by the federal government and the new additions to Canada’s Tentative List will be announced at the end of the year, capping the country’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

The nominees include:



The Salish Sea is of incredible importance to both the area’s indigenous people and the European settlers who came after, and has scientific importance through its biodiversity.  (Cristina Mittermeier)  

The inland coastal waters of British Columbia are made up of Puget Sound, the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Strait of Georgia, but were renamed the Salish Sea in 2010 to better reflect a waterway that has been populated and has served as an important trade route and resource for thousands of years by First Nations on Canada’s west coast.

The submission by the Salish Sea Trust for inclusion on Canada’s Tentative List is based on the cultural importance of the area for indigenous people as well as the European settlers who came after. The submission also cites the area’s natural beauty, its biodiversity and its scientific importance, said Laurie Gourlay.

“The beauty is here and available to everyone,” he said. “You can be rich and out on your yacht, or you can be out in your rowboat or canoe and kayak around and you get the same opportunity to walk the beaches and collect oysters or mussels or enjoy the wildlife like the orca whales and humpback whales back in here or the 3,000 species of marine life in the area,” he said.


Anticosti Island is basing its application on its geological heritage, which suggests the island rose from the sea some 450 million years ago.  (Parc National D’Anticosti)  

The municipality of Anticosti, a remote island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, cleared its first hurdle this week when it won the support of the Quebec government to put in a bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage site — an eventuality that could put a stop to eager oil speculators.

Anticosti Mayor John Pineault said that the island meets six of the 10 heritage categories laid out by UNESCO for sites hoping to make the exclusive list. The major argument is Anticosti’s geological heritage, which suggests it rose out of the sea some 450 million years ago. Its sedimentary rock formations mean that the island is like a time capsule, allowing scientists to dig their way through the centuries.

“It’s also a period that isn’t protected in any other UNESCO site. That’s a rock-hard argument that nobody can deny,” Pineault said.

He said there is also a rich cultural heritage associated with Anticosti, including 400 shipwrecks around the island and numerous literary references and a massive population of white-tailed deer that have supported the small population that calls Anticosti home as well as attracted tourists and a lively sport hunting industry.


A reenactment underway in Fort George, in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The fort was shelled and captured by the American troops during the War of 1812.  (DAVID COOPER)  

Better known, perhaps, for its wine, cycling routes and outlet malls, Niagara-on-the-Lake is pitching its 10,000-year history of serving as a refuge and meeting place in North America in its bid for UNESCO World Heritage recognition.

“Because of the physical and natural attributes of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and being the land bridge between Lake Ontario and Fort Erie, it has been the meeting place or refuge for people,” said Betty Disero, a city councillor and co-chair of the campaign to have the area added to the list.

The submission also notes that it served as the front-line in the War of 1812, and was the site where the campaign to abolish slavery in North America was launched in 1792 with legislation tabled in what was then Upper Canada’s parliament by lieutenant-governor John Simcoe.

The territory was also settled by Iroquois natives who refused to take sides in the long-running conflict between warring Huron and Iroquois factions and were dubbed the “Neutrals” after being encountered by Europeans.

Disero said the submission also relies on artifacts and remnants dating back as far as 10,000 B.C.


Pat McGee holds a photograph of her farm taken nearly a century ago. Her home sits atop the world’s first commercial oil field in Oil Springs, Ont.  (Craig Glover)  

Before there were the Alberta oilsands, before the blue-eyed sheiks of Texas and before OPEC, John Henry Fairbank dug a hole in the ground in what would later be called Oil Springs, Ont., and pumped out what he sold as “illuminating oil” — a product to keep lamps burning.

Fairbank put the village in Lambton County, near Sarnia, on the map and actually exported drilling expertise to dozens of other countries where oil reserves were discovered, said Patricia McGee, who is working on the submission.

Recognized in 1925 as a national historic site, the world’s first commercial oilfield is seeking UNESCO heritage status as an example of industrial archeology.

“We are the only place where oil is produced this way,” McGee said.

Andrew Mayer, Lambton County’s corporate cultural officer, said that sites representing industrial heritage are “under-represented” in the UNESCO World Heritage list, making him hopeful of that the bid will stand out among the mass of submissions.

And just as important as the fact that the oil-drilling operation was the first in the world is the fact that it is still going using the same primitive technology. The underground reserves still pump out about 24,000 barrels of oil each year, more than a century-and-a-half after Fairbank first struck black gold.


Newfoundland’s Signal Hill, where Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signals in 1901.  (Dick Loek)  

The fortified tower in St. John’s that looks out over the Atlantic Ocean is one of the most popular coastal trails in North America and played significant strategic roles in wars going back centuries.

But the niche that Signal Hill’s submission seeks to exploit is that it was the site of the first wireless transmission, when Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi received the first Transatlantic wireless signal on Dec. 12, 1901.

“We view that as a significant event in global telecommunications that is now one of the fundamental components of the global economy,” said Dave Lane, a councilor-at-large with the city of St. John’s.

Signal Hill, where fortifications were built in 1697, was designated a national historic site in 1951 by the federal government, in part because of its military significance.

But it is heralded as well because it marks the transition from the practice of sending visual signals to incoming ships approaching the St. John’s Harbour to the use of wireless signalling.


Quebec’s Saguenay Fjord was created by retreating glacial ice, and has been touted as one of the best places on earth for studying whale activity.  (Alain Dumas)  

The nomination of the Saguenay fjord, a dramatic basin created by retreating glacial ice, has been years in the making. The Quebec government had been aiming for its inclusion on Canada’s Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2004.

This time around, the submission is highlighting the fact that the site, 200 kilometres north of Quebec City, represents the longest fjord in the world located at such a southerly position.

A 2009 academic report commissioned in support of an eventual UNESCO bid noted that the fjord has also been recognized as one of the best locations in the world for studying and observing whale activity. The waters are home to many different species, including the orca, humpback, beluga, northern bottlenose and sperm whales.

On top of that, the area is being touted for his historic cultural heritage, being the site of initial contact, alliance and trade between European explorers and First Nations people in 1603, five years before Samuel de Champlain founded the first French settlement in what is now Quebec City.

Read more about:

United Nations



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  February 8, 2017

BC Heritage Week Discovers a Prize in World Heritage Site Application

Feb. 13- 19th


CEDAR – BC’s Heritage Week can claim a  new contender for the top spot with the World Heritage Site application submitted for the Salish Sea.

“It’s a big step forward,” said Laurie Gourlay, Salish Sea Trust Director “We’re linking nature and culture in this World Heritage Site proposal for the Salish Sea – and very pleased to contribute to BC’s Heritage Week celebrations.”

The Salish Sea Trust non-proft organization has partnered with Sea Legacy and national Geographic photographers Nick xxx and Cristina xxx to highlight the outstanding universal value that 3.5 million Canadians are now finding right out their front doors in Soutwest B.C.

“B.C.’s heritage goes back 10,000 years with the Coast Salish peoples of the Salish Sea,” Gourlay noted ((or Paul/Christina noted…)). “And as the licence plates say, B.C. is Super, Natural!”

Sea Legacy and the Salish Sea Trust have opened a new website to feature the outstanding beauty, culture and nature of the Salish Sea. <>

“Our new website also invites all Canadians and  visitors to help us with our World Heritage Site application by writing a letter of support,” said Cristina of xxx ” which we will collect over the next two months, until Earth Day (Ap. 22nd), and attach to the application we’ve submitted to Parks Canada.”

Interest in the 40-page E-Booklet that features the world-class photographs of Nicklin and Mittermeier has been so great that there are intentions to print and publish as early as June – during Canadian Environment Week. “And we are looking at  publishing a 2018 Salish Sea Calendar also” adds Cheryl Alexander, another photographer, and volunteer with the World Heritage Site bid.

Over the next three months the campaign to have the Salish Sea recognized a s a World Heritage Site will be approaching local governments, service clubs, Chambers of Commerce, boating organizations requesting letters of support, and encouraging a greater appreciation of the marine heritage which the west coast of Canada is once again discovering and taking great pride in.

World Heritage is us,” says Gourlay. “We are the Salish Sea,” adds Mittermeir.

For more information:

Laurie Gourlay Kait Burgan

interim Director, Salish Sea Trust

(250 722-3444)

Salish Sea Trust, Box 333, Cedar, B.C., V9X 1W1

250.722.3444, <> (


World Heritage Site designation sought for Saanich Peninsula’s Salish Sea

An image of a sea lion by photographer Cristina Mittermeier, a co-founder of SeaLegacy.
— image credit: SeaLegacy

  • by  Carlie Connolly – Peninsula News Review
  • Sidney, North Saanich, Central Saanich posted Feb 16, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Long-time B.C. resident Laurie Gourlay nominated the Salish Sea for consideration as a World Heritage Site for many reasons, which he referenced to

“It talks about 7,500 kilometres of coastline, 3,000 species in the Salish Sea … and then there’s 113 threatened species, including glass sponge, reefs and the like and they are some of the oldest and most unique species on the planet, right here in the Salish Sea,” said Gourlay, the director of the Salish Sea Trust.

The application went into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the end of January.

It will be just one of many applications that will be looked at over the course of this year and will be announced at the end of the year by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Gourlay first nominated the Salish Sea when he heard of the opportunity last August.

Vancouver Island and Coast Society were doing work around the National Marine Conservation proposal in the Gulf Islands and they were looking at the buffer that’s needed around the marine area that’s being proposed.

“We were really recognizing the need for larger protective measures for all of the Salish Sea and then this opportunity arose with the World Heritage site …” he said, adding that it has all the characteristics and benefits they would love to see implemented.

Gourlay said having the Salish Sea designated as a World Heritage Site would mean a huge economic boost for the province.

“Every World Heritage Site around the world is receiving large numbers of visitors, folks who recognize the outstanding universal value that it represents,” said Gourlay.

He said it’s also about them wanting to see for themselves the beauty or the cultural and natural assets that are profiled.

“We would be establishing a basis for protection of our World Heritage and then that would boost a lot of businesses that are supportive of a service as well as a professional demographic that would be interested in living close to a place that is so beautiful, that is protected in the like and that would begin to establish business interest.”

The application put forward by Gourlay was pulled together with the help of Salish Sea residents and neighbours along with National Geographic Photographers and Salish Sea residents Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen.

They are also founders of SeaLegacy, an organization dedicated to supporting grassroots movements to establish or enhance marine protections.

Gourlay said the Salish Sea as a World Heritage Site would see a long term sustainable development there and that’s what they’ve based their application around. They see the application, he said, as reflecting sustainable development opportunities in the Salish Sea.

“We have 10,000 years of Coast Salish and they come from a background where they love the nature, where nature was part of everything they do … and then we’ve got the colonists who’ve come from Europe, who come from a dominion over nature,” he said adding that both look at challenging future difficulties like climate change, resource depletion and biodiversity decline.

He said the Salish Sea Trust is looking at sustainable development as the opportunity to bring all of those interests together.

Gourlay said we need to be protecting the special places and species in the Salish Sea, one of which is the Southern Resident Orca whales.

He said they’ve also seen a growing interest by First Nations who set aside a place in Haidi Gwaii for a World Heritage Site designation. There’s also been renewed interest in the Arctic, as well as in the Manitoba and Saskatchewan border who have put forward similar World Heritage Site proposals.

“So there’s an opportunity for that reconciliation and healing to take place as we gain partnership with First Nations,” said Gourlay.

As of Feb. 14 the Salish Sea Trust put out letters to First Nations and local governments asking for their support and consent.

“This is heritage week as well and we have just written to all of the MP’s as they are in session and supported a heritage bill, but this is for the built environment they have at this point …” he said, adding that they’d like to remind them of the culture and natural heritage they have in Canada.

With Canadian Heritage Day coming up on Feb. 20, Gourlay said it’s a good time for them to voice their support. They will also approach Members of Legislative Assembly.

“We want to both invite that support across all sectors, provide the information and then to encourage consideration of all the assets, all the things that the World Heritage Site could bring to this area.”



Economic Boost expected from Salish Sea World Heritage Site


[March 3rd, 2017] CEDAR, By The Salish Sea – With both provincial and federal government leaders emphasizing the need for economic and environmental solutions, and the need growing for long-lasting benefits and employment in BC’s southern coast, a Salish Sea World Heritage Site proposal is being seen as a major economic driver and worldwide attraction for south-western British Columbia.


“Just last month, the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, raised the prospect of strengthening economic ties with B.C.,” said Laurie Gourlay1, Interim Director of the Salish Sea Trust. “There is also an acknowledgment of the need for health and protection measures to be put in place for the Salish Sea.”


The Salish Sea Trust, along with partner SeaLegacy, are in the process of contacting all sectors with economic, heritage and sustainable development interest in the Salish Sea and region. Letters have been sent out to MPs, MLAs and local governments throughout British Columbia while at the same time, interest in and support for the economic and environmental benefits of the proposed Salish Sea World Heritage Site is growing.


“The business model for World Heritage Sites is as strong as the cultural and natural protections they provide,” says Gourlay. “There are over 1000 World Heritage Sites around the globe and it’s proven that the boost for local and regional economies is a major reason for seeking the UNESCO designation.”


Prime Minister Trudeau invited applications by Canadians last August, for the prestigious World Heritage Site recognition through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.


“UNESCO has increasingly emphasized their wish to address sustainable development,” Gourlay adds, “and our Salish Sea application specifically addresses the significant cultural and natural assets which readily contribute to economic and sustainable development opportunities here.”


The new website of the Salish Sea Trust and SeaLegacy is helping to provide information on the World Heritage Site application for the Salish Sea, as well as inviting support letters which will be submitted by April 30th to accompany the proposal,


1) In Trump era, Washington governor says relationship with B.C. becoming more important, CBC News Feb 20, 2017,


Media Contact:

Kait Burgan

  1. 250-816-0046