Friday, May 27, 2005


The new political landscape in BC may provide an opportunity for change in the way we treat the natural environment in this province.

In 2001 Gordon Campbell lifted the moratorium on the trophy hunting of grizzly bears then changed the Ministry of Environment into the Ministry of Water, Land, and Air Protection.

WLAP introduced pay-for-parking at most Provincial Parks around British Columbia. The result has been a dramatic 25% decline in the number of people visiting our parks. Locally that includes parks at Rathtrevor, Englishman River Falls, and Little Qualicum Falls. Revenue goals resurrected plans to bulldoze the floodplain of the Cameron River to install a 2 hectare parking lot. Intense public opposition and a BC Supreme Court ruling denied the Liberals from removing a protest that has been continuous for 15 months in Cathedral Grove.

In 2004 the Campbell government took full credit for opening or expanding a series of parks created by the former NDP government. BC Liberals plan to put privately financed lodges, complete with long-term leases, into provincial parks. Over 20 million people visit BC parks on an annual basis, contributing half a billion dollars to the provincial economy. Over the past four years the budget to BC parks was cut by 30%.

Provincial parks and protected areas have been opened to commercial logging, protected area boundaries have been rolled back to accommodate mining, and park privatization has increased. The BC Liberals have drafted legislation, the so-called "Working Forest Initiative", which would give logging corporations private property like rights over most of BC's public lands. This proposed legislation would ensure that no more land would be taken out of industry’s hands and given back to the public in the way of parks.

Land and Water BC has doubled the sale of publicly owned land to private developers. This is currently effecting crown land in Qualicum Bay and Bowser where two large golf courses are on hold, as well as public land being sold in Dashwood’s "Lost Trails Wetlands." LWBC has refused to renew the leases held by the Regional District of Nanaimo on regional parks at Little Mountain and Morrison Creek which may soon been up for sale.

Bill 75, Significant Projects Streamlining Act, was introduced and given Royal Assent within one month but did not incorporate the amendments recommended by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Executive on behalf of local governments. This act can be used to override Official Community Plans and land use regulations that reflect local goals for environmental and community sustainability.

Jobs are being sent south of the border as Raw Log Exports have more than doubled, resulting in the shut down of mills and dry-land sorts. The Forest Practices Code was replaced by the Results Based code which leaves the onus upon industrial corporations to self monitor their environmental impact on public forest land.

As a direct result of the actions of the BC Liberals seismic testing will soon be starting off the coast of BC despite a federal moratorium and public opposition. Scientific studies on the East Coast of Canada prove that the traditional migratory paths of marine mammals and some species of fish were disrupted by seismic testing conducted by oil companies which can harm marine larvae and reduce commercial fish catches up to 50%. Whales bleeding from their ears, fish dying from ruptured swim bladders, and other marine life unable to navigate due to exploded sound sensors may effect tourism in BC.

The BC Liberal have increased fish farming dramatically despite scientific studies that prove lice and disease spread into wild populations of salmon and millions of Atlantic species escape into the wild. They imposed a cull (Spring hunt) on cougars and black bears. Campbell opposed the ratification of the Kyoto Accord while promoting the use of coal and gas fired generations plants.

Now is the time for change. Politicians need to be reminded that both parties campaigned hard with the claim that they would protect the environment. You, the citizens of this province, can take this moment of opportunity to let your local MLA know just how important the environment is to you.