A life-long Vancouver resident, Will Koop suddenly became very interested in the history of the Greater Vancouver water supply watersheds in the late Spring of 1991. His intense interest and enquiries eventually led him, as an amateur researcher, to unravel a number of stories about the history, conservation, controversy, politics, and the relatively recent mismanagement of these local consumptive use watersheds.
KoopOn February 6, 1992, Koop ventured forward to submit his first rough and unedited draft of Wake Up Vancouver to Greater Vancouver publically elected representatives. He named report in honor of an inspirational address by the co-founder of the Vancouver Natural History Society, John Davidson, which he presented in October 1924 before an audience of about 300 people on the topic of the destructive logging practices in the Capilano watershed by the Capilano Timber Company. Large sections of Koop's initial draft later appeared in a now defunct, but once very popular, magazine, Forest Planning Canada (see September/ October 1992, Volume 8, Number 5, "A History of Vancouver's Watersheds"). On February 26, 1992, based on this report, the Vancouver Sun newspaper printed an opinion piece by Koop on the controversial and secretive initiation in the 1950's by the C.D. Schultz Company for a sustained-yield logging program in the legislatively protected Greater Vancouver watersheds. In April 1993, Koop revised his Wake Up Vancouver Report, just after a local Vancouver paper, the Georgia Straight, featured the author on the front cover with an accompanying feature article.
In April 1994, after examining the history of the B.C. Electric Railway Company, being B.C. Hydro's predecessor, Koop made his first (and rather long!) public presentation to the Port Moody Ecological Society on the history of the Coquitlam River and watershed, which included many photographic slides from archival files. He elaborated on how the Coquitlam water supply was protected expressly from all manner of logging in 1910 by a federal Order-In-Council, a fact which the Greater Vancouver Water District has yet to document in their historical summaries to the public.  Koop also released confidential information on how B.C. Hydro's predecessor (the B.C. Electric Railway Company) had secretly and underhandedly obtained almost all of the City of New Westminster's water rights, a condition which has recently (and may continue to) cost the Water District and taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual rental fees.
In February of 1995, after a poorly detailed report by the Water District on the effects of heavy winter rain storms causing landslides and road washouts, Koop helped document, via a camcorder, whilst trespassing in the Capilano watershed, the consequences that roads have in our watersheds, specifically one directly above the western side of the Capilano reservoir. Plugged culverts, roads flooded and washed out, road slides, the release of extremely fine clay sediments from cutslopes causing muddy turbid water transported directly into the reservoir. On March 10, 1995, Koop presented a 22 page report, A Critique of the Landslide Report from John Morse to the Water Committee, Being Item 2(D) of the February 10th, 1995 Water Committee Agenda, An Overview of Other Relevant Details which were not Reported on, and Some General Observations. Shortly afterwards, videotape footage was given to the press and an article appeared on the front page of the Vancouver Sun's B section, which brought about television and radio coverage. What Koop did not realize at the time of his February 26 visit to the Hollyburn road, was that it was going to present relevant evidence for a disaster which occurred eight months later - the Capilano landslide.
During the summer of 1995 the Water District published a glossy, 18-page booklet for the public, called Protecting a Precious Resource.  The booklet, which was yet another public relations tool advocating continued logging in the watersheds, was to be distributed throughout the public school system, and also distributed to people participating in the summer tours in the watersheds.  On August 5, 1995, Koop distributed another 22 page report, Misinforming the Public, A Critique of the Greater Vancouver Regional District's (GVRD') Watershed Management Booklet,  " Protecting a Precious Resource"  (A GVRD Excercise in Controlling Information). Articles appeared in the press, along with another long radio interview. The associated events helped the GVRD Board to change their policy regarding public access to the watersheds, to allow certain public groups access, a revised policy which has sadly no teeth to it.
Around October 9, 1995, there was a reasonably large landslide which plummeted directly into the northwestern sector of the Capilano Reservoir. At the October 13th Water Committee meeting, there was oddly no mention of this catastrophic event to the publically elected members of the Water Committee by the Water District's Chief Engineer John Morse, a situation which was responsible for shutting down the reservoir for the next 6 months. On October 15th, Koop physically located the isolated site, carefully investigated the landslide zone with video and photo documentation, and then presented the materials to the press. Over the next month and a half Koop then produced a 56 page report, which included details on the related logging history in the area, and called it Not Coming Clean: The Culvert Creek Landslide.  A Report on the Recent Landslide into the Capilano Reservoir, and the Greater VancouverWater District's Claims to the Public. The report was presented to the Greater Vancouver Regional District  Board on December 8, 1995.  The report was also published well in advance of the Water District's own report by its geotechnical consultant, Thurber Engineering, which skirted descriptive historical assessment of the early logging in the area and the effects that recent switchback road building may have contributed to the landslide failure.
From February 1990 to the end of 1996, Ben Marr's dual role was as Commissioner of the Water District and Regional Manager of the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Koop looked into the background of Mr. Marr as a provincial bureaucrat, and then presented An Open Letter to Ben Marr, Manager of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, November 21st, 1996: Upon Your Retirement.  Under the second long administrative reign of the Social Credit government (1975-1991), Marr had been the Deputy Minister of the Environment for 11 years (until 1987), and almost 4 years as the Deputy Minister of Forests, the very years when the regulations and supervision over our provincial forests were being systematically rearranged and undermined.
Since the 1991 public review over the management of the Greater Vancouver watersheds, the Water District was told to revise its March 1967 amended agreement with the provincial government which removed the forty year old legislatively protected reserve to permit sustained yield logging in the watersheds.  That revision of the revision did not transpire. Koop investigated this failed process and, after a series of correspondence and presentations, he appeared before the Greater Vancouver Regional District Board and presented a long chronology on March 27, 1997, An Overview of Negotiations and Related Matters Between the Provincial Government and the Greater Vancouver Water District Regarding the Amending Indenture.  Despite the overwhelming amount of detailed information, and related logic, there was no future external response by the Greater Vancouver Regional Board or by the Water District on this matter. [Note: the chronological overview contains and capsulizes perhaps some of the most critical information on the historical politics and policies regarding the Greater Vancouver watersheds.]
Over the course of some years, Koop had not only been attending monthly Water Committee meetings, he also began attending Seymour Advisory Committee meetings and looking into its operational history.  Koop discovered that the Seymour Advisory Committee was initially established in the exclusive company of professional foresters, and without the consent of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, to counter a proposal by three municipalities to make the Lower Seymour off-catchment lands into a public regional park. The history of that private counter-process eventually led him to publish his latest December 10, 1997, 118 page report, Seymourgate, The Off-Catchment Lands of the Lower Seymour Valley.  An Investigation Into: The History of the Lower Seymour; The First Regional Park Proposal; The Seymour Advisory Committee and the Related Establishment and Operation of the Seymour Demonstration Forest.
In the summer of 1999, near the end of the Ecological Inventory process, an expensive consultant-based study and report contract for the three Greater Vancouver watersheds, with an emphasis on the Capilano watershed, Will Koop began writing a report on the ecological inventory process for the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC), since his involvement with them for a public campaign to end logging in the watersheds.  Silty Sources: A Critique of the GVRD's Ecological Inventory Project Annex and Analysis Reports, was finished on November 1, 1999, and presented to the Greater Vancouver Regional District Directors on November 10, 1999, along with a photo-slide presentation, when the Board voted to end logging in the three watersheds.
Note: All of the reports mentioned above are available in print form in the Greater Vancouver Public Library system. There has never been a proper and complete history written on any of the Greater Vancouver catchments regarding social and resource use issues, including the only two relevant titles of James W. Morton's Capilano: The Story of a River; and Gabrielle Kahrer's historical summary of the Seymour, which she completed under a contract for the Greater Vancouver Water District, From Speculative to Spectacular: The Seymour River Valley 1870s to 1980s, A History of Resource Use.  Morton's Capilano, which is well written and still popular among local historians and residents, captures some important episodes and character studies in the early years, but lacks a sweeping and summary analysis of the evolving controversies and intrigue surrounding the logging issue.