Answers to the Green Forum questions - May 9, 2013

To Jason Hertz and The SCCA

Thank you for your invitation to take part in the SCCA Environmental Issues Forum 2013.  As requested, I have laid out my responses to your ‘Questions for Candidates’ as follows:

Land Use planning:

I am convinced that the lands and the waters from the high alpine beyond Bute Inlet to the islands of Howe Sound are the most valuable and diverse areas of accessible temperate rainforest and coastal mountain terrain on this planet.  To live in this place is a rare privilege that most of us value deeply and are constantly thankful for.

As new generations continue to inhabit these vital places, they will look back in history and consider what we are doing today.  Our actions and decisions will be measured as wise, or unwise, according to the outcomes.  Looking forward seven generations and beyond, the formation of Land Use Planning that is based on sound human ecology is an obvious imperative.

Land Use Planning begins an equitable and balanced approach to the health and well being of a whole ecology.  Humans, more than ever, and more than any other creature, are knowingly deciding the future of our planet and every region upon it.  It is a responsibility that requires our fullest attention, dedication and respect.

Land Use Planning begins by recognizing the value of what we have and agreeing on core principles from which decisions can be made for wise governance.  Reaching agreement on these core principles for governance involves all people.  We will begin by giving a full and un-fettered voice to the first peoples of the land first.

Any realistic design and implementation of a Land Use Plan fully, respectfully, and responsibly, involves First Nations at every stage of any process.  Unresolved First Nations Rights and Title remains the most obvious and real block to a fully realized, long-term approach to Land Use Planning.  The time has come to remove the box and move ahead.

It behooves us all, as inhabitants of this area, no matter what our affiliation, to approach each other with the openness, honesty and respect that will build relationships from which to proceed into the future.  Good relationships build good agreements and this begins at the local level.

 

The Green Party of BC Green Book proposes:

.Strengthening the Environmental 
Management Act:  
The Green Party is committed to restoring and enhancing public and local government control over resource use, development, and the protection of ecosystems. We will re-establish the right of local and regional governments to say no to development and resource use that is not in the best interests of their region. The BC Greens will establish elected Regional Resource Management Boards to review development proposals. This will strengthen the environmental assessment process by introducing a local focus that will ensure resource use is sustainable and in the community interest.

Agreement on priorities for the management of any area will be guided by core principles for good healthy human ecology that we form now for future generations.  As we generate these core principles, I submit that the following topics might form a beginning for the dialogue on Land Use Plans:

1.Inclusive grass roots democracy

2.Long term sustainability
3.Personal and global responsibility
4.Biodiversity
5.Ecological wisdom
6.Decentralization
7.A systems approach to health
8.Education for ecology
9.An economy of ecology

No matter what name we give a system for Land Use Plans, the most pressing issue in this process is to work together now, to gift future generations with governance that values healthy people in healthy places and actively respects the intrinsic, ecological, social, and economic value of all that is the Powell River-Sunshine Coast area.

 

Drinking Water Protection:

Drinking Water Protection in our area has a long and conflicted history.  That conflict has involved thousands of local citizens who have dedicated immeasurable amounts of time, expertise and endless resolve to arriving at long-term solutions for safe, adequate, water and realistic management of resources.  It has also provided an example of local people of all origins and walks of life working together to secure one of life’s most essential elements, clean water.  A Joint Watershed Management Agreement (JWMA) for our area seems an obvious choice and deserves full support.  If for no other reason, health concerns should be enough to propel us in this direction.

A principled approach to Land Use Planning will provide the tools for governance serving healthy people in healthy places.  I am in support of endeavors to supply safe, clean drinking water as a priority for health providing that they are designed and implemented with a sustainable approach that looks at the whole ecology of the region.

This would necessitate a careful review of industrial activity, human activity, waste management plans and pertinent environmental concerns, on a watershed-by-watershed basis.

We are confronted by several concerns:

1.Quality and quantity of available water

2.Seasonal flux in demand and supply
3.Public engagement in water conservation
4.Contamination or depletion of existing water supplies
5.Optimum safe location of storage for water
6.A need for a sustainable, balanced approach to forestry
7.Effects on salmonid and other life in the watershed
8.Climate change

The formal recognition of a JWMA can empower process to address water concerns that have weighed heavily on the community for so long.

The Green Party is committed to Electoral reform and empowered governance for local First Nations, municipalities and regional districts.

Given the opportunity, the party would “Implement elected Regional Resource Management Boards, Regional Health Trusts and local Social Trusts.”  This seems like a positive direction for addressing issues like local watershed management.

 

Restoration of the Salmon Fishery

Let me begin by saying that I personally consider “Restoration of the Salmon Fisheries” to be a priority that must be brought to the full attention of all British Columbians and all Canadians.  The Fraser River salmon run has always been, and should continue to be the vital lifeblood that fills the veins of BC waters.

All levels of government can, and indeed are, bound to begin a transparent and accountable dialogue with the public so that restoration work can begin.  Salmon populations must be brought back to their full potential in terms of healthy carrying capacities.  This must become a top priority for all levels of government and for every citizen willing to bend to the task.  To do any less than this would be to turn our backs not only on our primary food source for a healthy human ecology on the west coast, but to disrespect the intrinsic value, and the natural wonder of the keystone species of life here: our wild salmon.

To restore the salmon fishery we can:

1.Join together as one people, with one objective—we must let go of mistakes of the past and get to the work of restoring and nurturing our wild salmon stocks.  We will begin with a clear vision; we will begin with the end in mind:  a vibrant, sustainable wild salmon fishery that will continue for countless generations to come.

2.We will remove fin fish farms from migratory routes of wild salmon.  Fish farms on non-migratory routes will be evaluated for contamination of wild salmon and removed as soon as necessary.
3.The on-going work of restoring habitat for salmon stocks can be fully protected from large scale pollution by an unwavering and complete ban on the shipment of any type of tar sands bitumen products, by whatever means, through British Columbia.  We can cease the endless and needless rhetoric on pipelines and jobs and focus on the real issue:  we have no known way to clean up a bitumen spill.  One of the core principles of good ecology is simply this:  don’t make something you can’t un-make.  We will, therefore, stop the flow of bitumen products into this province immediately.
4.In the web of life there is no disconnect; salmon and hydro-electricity are related though habitat.  All forms of electrical generation result in some ecological compromise.  Run of the river power is one of those compromises.  We will manage habitat on a river-by-river basis with careful evaluation of each watershed and each species, and with a view to long-term sustainability.

 

In closing, I would like to recognize and thank you for all the work that your group has contributed to our communities, as well as your excellent SCCA News Letter.

Please feel free to contact me concerning any of the topics that have been addressed here.  My email is: richardtill@greenparty.bc.ca

My phone number is 604-741-1051