February 6, 2002: College students study coastal environment

      Contact: Shelley Kean at 604.983.7596

      (NORTH VANCOUVER)--Environmental Science students at Capilano College's North Vancouver campus are playing a key role in examining the Sunshine Coast's drinking water.
      A recent donation to the Capilano College Foundation by Howe Sound Pulp & Paper (HSLP) will help fund a project allowing the students to produce an impact study of water quality on the Sunshine Coast.

      "The support from this company is providing our students with a great opportunity, not only to learn through this project, but also to provide a direct benefit to a community we serve," says Foundation executive director, Lana Robinson.

      Al Strang, HSLP manager, Environment and External Relations, was instrumental in getting the study off the ground. He was prompted by concerns of some community members that emissions from the mill are affecting water quality in Chapman and Grey Creeks. These creeks are the main sources of drinking water for several communities on the Sunshine Coast.

      Although the mill is in compliance with the conditions required by its environmental permits, public concern has prompted Strang to have an impact study done by an objective organization. His decision to have the analysis done by Capilano College students was seen as a winning opportunity for all parties involved.

      "It's real life learning," said Strang, who lives with his family in Roberts Creek. "We get something from it, the community benefits and the students benefit."

      The mandate of the intensive one-year Environmental Science post-graduate program is to develop environmental professionals for the fields of natural resource conservation and environmental protection and management. Participants study with and learn from senior environmental professionals in addition to learning from each other. Students' expertise is furthered at the end of the program by working on a practicum within the environmental field.
      "I first learned about the Environmental Science program at Capilano College about 10 years ago when program instructor, Alan Whitehead, brought a class here for a tour of the facilities,"Strang explained. "We talked about the mill and the environment and the students looked at nearby streams. It was an opportunity for them to see how industry addresses environmental issues."

      An external advisory panel comprised of representatives from local and regional governments, regulatory agencies, and the educational and scientific community has been established to provide additional guidance during the study. It will review both the proposed study design for the student assignments and resulting reports, and will act as a surrogate for the general public during the consultation component of the project. Members of the panel are: Barry Janyck, mayor of Gibsons; Steve Lee, manager Infrastructure Services, Sunshine Coast Regional District; Ann Laite, science teacher, Chatelech High School, Sechelt; and Tom Watson, Triton Environmental Consultants.

      Students will tackle the Sunshine Coast water study through a number of their spring 2002 courses, and will collect data over the summer as part of a practicum. The report is expected to be completed by September and will be made available at that time.

      "This project with Howe Sound Pulp and Paper is the Environmental Science department's latest move toward project-based learning which creates excellent opportunities for everyone involved," says Whitehead. "The program welcomes inquiries as to how its students can provide their expertise to community and private organizations."

      While Capilano College's main campus is in North Vancouver, it also has regional campuses in Squamish and Sechelt that serve the communities of Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Sechelt campus, which opened in 1977. The campus offers a selection of university level courses each semester, along with a wide variety of career/vocational programs, Adult Basic Education courses and Continuing Education courses such as computer training, music and Eldercollege.

      For more information about the Environmental Science program at Capilano College, call 604.983.7562 or visit the Web site at: www.capilanou.ca/dept/envsc/index.html.