Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Green Issues Forum

On November 7, 2011, I participated in a question-and-answer forum hosted by the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (SCCA). Here are my answers to the four questions that the SCCA posed to all candidates:

Question 1 Joint Watershed Management Agreement
I was one of those that called for a stoppage of logging in the watershed under the precautionary principle, which resulted in the Health Board hearings. I felt I had to take a position that water is more important that any resource extraction. We lost the case in court, but we made other districts and the provincial government aware of the need for a solution. This court case I feel prompted the provincial government to review the water act. Although the SCRD has met with all the pertinent ministers, and even the premier, to get support for our agreement to manage the watershed, we have not been successful as yet, but we keep going back with new proposals and new avenues to get their attention.

As a director, I have supported the concept of community forests, as they were brought in to help keep jobs in the local communities. I have attended the provincial AGM to listen to other companies speak on governance and use of funds in their community. The local Community Forest is reaching out to community concerns by constantly seeking public input to their plans. I feel that board meetings should include an initial open session to allow public input prior moving to in-camera discussion. I heard at a Community Forest meeting a year ago that SCPI was hiring a part-time economic development consultant and that they were prepared to spend $200,000 on value-added industries. I am waiting patiently to hear that this has happened.

Question 2 Envision the Coast
My views on sustainability changed with the SCRD signing on to the Climate Action Charter. This alone made me re-examine any decision to build or renovate assets of the Regional District without looking at reducing the footprint and emissions. I am pleased to be able to say the Sunshine Coast is one step closer to having an integrated community-wide action plan for a healthy and sustainable future. The draft of We Envision was created by a team of individuals from community organizations and local governments. Working towards sustainability means recognizing the interconnectedness of all things; it means taking thoughtful, innovative steps today to ensure that people and ecosystems flourish into the future.

The next step must be to design a pragmatic action plan that would include a clear chronology and prioritized listing of what we can do immediately with little or no cost and what could be done if taxpayers were willing to fund the initiatives. All priorities could be stated in terms of five-year increments, with costs starting from what could be done immediately.

Question 3 Zero Waste
The SCRD is working towards the goal of zero waste and has just passed a Solid Waste Management Plan. The next phase is to examine the cost to the taxpayer of implementing the waste management and recycling programs. There is a push towards having recycling venues and green waste drop-offs close to residential areas, because most people feel that this could reduce illegal dumping and backyard burning in some areas.

Question 4 Species at Risk
One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with bio-diversity is to encourage public trust in the effectiveness of conservation initiatives undertaken by companies and the federal and provincial governments to protect ecosystems and species at risk. You only have to look at pictures of the Chapman Watershed in the 90s and the recent Tyson Creek IPP silt problem to understand why this trust is not easy. One of my constituents who lives in Narrows Inlet informs me of the loss of wildlife in that area because of further expansion of the resource industry. We require carefully planned collective action or we could be soon be in difficulty in SCRD crown land. The SCRD cannot do this alone—we need to bring the whole Coast into the plan.

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