Super, Natural B.C. needs super, natural leadership
Is the phrase Super, Natural British Columbia taking on a hollow ring under the stewardship of the current government?
First, we have the issue of our park system.
While protected parklands have doubled in recent years, the parks budget has declined by more than $10 million.
Initially, Premier Christy Clark said that lost revenue from cancelling metered parking would not come from parks’ budget, but we have since learned from Environment Minister Terry Lake the parks are expected to absorb the costs.
A very small number of rangers are employed to monitor very large areas of parkland and, due to chronic and worsening underfunding, they have been reduced to buying not only their own gas for their park vehicles, but even toilet paper for the facilities.
Meanwhile, Auditor-General John Doyle issued a scathing report stating the government’s environmental-assessment process is seriously flawed and does not provide the protection the government has maintained it does.
Conditions imposed by the Environmental Assessment Office are too vague to be enforceable and the office doesn’t monitor compliance in any event, relying on self-reporting without inspection.
The auditor-general was unable to find a single example of the office imposing any sanctions on projects that did not meet their obligations.
Needless to say, without effective assessment and monitoring, damage to the environment will be serious and permanent.
The B.C. Liberal government has avidly pursued reduction of the role of government in the resource sector in the name of economic growth and job creation, reducing the budgets of all the major resource agencies by 37 per cent since 2006.
Yet forestry sector jobs have decreased by 38 per cent since 2001.
Our natural resources, including our parks, can bring jobs and economic growth.
But, without adequate and responsible stewardship, Super, Natural British Columbia will become just another empty catchphrase, courtesy of the B.C. Liberal government.
Editor’s note: Kathy Kendall is one of three candidates vying for the NDP nomination in Kamloops-North Thompson. Party members will vote on July 23.