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May 2011

Gravel Pit court case reveals problems with Environmental Assessment laws

30 May, 2011

A recent BC Supreme Court decision concerning a gravel pit on Texada Island suggests that there is a significant flaw in BC's Environmental Assessment Act. If the decision is upheld, then industry can avoid the need for an environmental assessment by applying for permission to build smaller projects, but building infrastructure that would allow for larger production, and then later increasing their actual production incrementally.

On May 4, 2011 the BC Supreme Court released its decision in Friends of Davie Bay v. Province of British Columbia. The decision, which rejected the Friends’ challenge of an environmental assessment of a gravel pit at Davie Bay, on Texada Island, raises questions as to whether BC’s Environmental Assessment Act is fundamentally flawed.   The Friends of Davie Bay have filed an appeal. 

West Moberly Nation wins second round for the Caribou

30 May, 2011

BC's Court of Appeal has sided with the West Moberly First Nations in requiring the government of BC to address the impacts of a proposed mining project on an endangered Caribou Herd.  This case is the first time in Canada that Aboriginal Treaty Rights have been used to force the government to take steps to protect a threatened species, and has sweeping implications for the way in which governments deal not just with endangered species but also with the cumulative impacts of development.

On Wednesday (May 25th) the BC Court of Appeal suspended a permit allowing First Coal Corporation to explore for coal in the habitat of a threatened caribou herd, upholding a decision of the BC Supreme Court that the government had not adequately consulted the West Moberly First Nations on protecting the Burnt Pine caribou herd.  The decision confirms that First Nation hunting rights can be a powerful tool in requiring government to protect wildlife and to consider the collective impacts of industrial develop

First Nations tell Enbridge: No pipelines without consent

17 May, 2011

When Enbridge recently held its annual meeting of shareholders in Calgary, the company and the city’s business sector received a powerful message about the obstacles in the way of expanding tar sands pipelines to the Pacific coast. First Nations from BC, Alberta and Manitoba gathered together to express their firm conviction, to federal and provincial governments, and to the oil industry, that oil developments and pipelines must not be built on the traditional territories of First Nations without their consent.

When Enbridge recently held its annual meeting of shareholders in Calgary, the company and the city’s business sector received a powerful message about the obstacles in the way of expanding tar sands pipelines to the Pacific coast. First Nations from BC, Alberta and Manitoba gathered together to express their firm conviction, to federal and provincial governments, and to the oil industry, that oil developments and pipelines must not be built on the traditional territories of First Nations without their consent.

Tanker ban runs aground (for now) – but people power will keep oil off our coast

4 May, 2011

One of Stephen Harper's first statements to the press the day after the election was to express his pleasure that opposition policies "on the energy sector" will not go ahead.  This seems to refer to the efforts to enact a legislated tanker ban.  But we must not forget that BC's First Nations have already enacted a ban under their own laws, and that BC's public will continue to oppose tanker traffic on the North Coast.

Fresh out of bed the first morning after the election, Stephen Harper met with the press and said:

Whistler clears the air around Asphalt Plant

20 April, 2011

Yesterday the Mayor and Council of the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) announced that it had asked a controversial asphalt plant located next to the residential neighbourhood of Cheakamus Crossing cease its operations by May 13, 2011.  This letter seems to put an end to a bizarre situation in which the Municipality had refused to enforce its own bylaws on the basis of “secret information” which it refused to share.

Yesterday the Mayor and Council of the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) released a letter written by their lawyer, Don Lidstone, demanding that a controversial asphalt plant located next to the residential neighbourhood of Cheakamus Crossing cease its operations by May 13, 2011.  This letter seems to put an end to a bizarre situation in which the Municipality had refused to enforce its own bylaws on the basis of “secret information” which it refused to sha

Rap on Rapid Transit

19 April, 2011

Anyone interested in rapid transit in Vancouver has until this Friday, April 22nd to tell Translink what they think about the proposed Broadway line. Before you weigh in, check out this YouTube video put together by folks in Detroit about a similar debate there.

Anyone interested in rapid transit in Vancouver has until this Friday, April 22nd (Earth Day) to tell Translink what they think about the proposed Broadway line. In particular, Translink’s asking the public to weigh in on whether they want buses, light rail or rail, and where

Environmentalists outgunned by oil industry lobbyists

18 April, 2011

An article in La Presse demonstrates that oil industry lobbyists get about 30 times more meetings with government ministers than environmental organizations working on oil issues do. We like to think that this type of inequality helps explain the importance of supporting organizations like West Coast that are advocating for the public interest.

pumpjacks.pngIt’s too bad that the English language media did not take note of an important article that appeared in Quebec’s La Presse at the end of March. The article – Oil industry and Conservatives: more than 1100 meetings in three years<

The debate you didn’t hear on climate change

14 April, 2011

Last Tuesday’s English Language leadership debates are over with hardly a mention of the environment.  And that's a shame, because a brief exchange between Prime Minister Harper and NDP Leader Jack Layton gives us a hint of the important questions about climate change that weren't asked.

Last Tuesday’s English Language election leadership debates are over. Disappointingly, there was hardly a mention of environmental issues (there was more discussion of Facebook than Climate Change). Quite the contrast from the 2008 Election debates, when environment was a major issue. That’s an argument right there for including Elizabeth May in the leadership debates

Dear White Rock: Trees have value

29 March, 2011

A current controversy in White Rock over trees being cut on city lands is an important reminder: trees benefit all of us and our governments need to protect them.

Can you imagine waking up in the morning, looking out the window and being annoyed that your view is blocked by a green leafy tree?  If you live in the City of White Rock and the tree happens to be on city property you can now just apply to the City to have that eyesore removed and your view of the ocean (or whatever view you happen to look out upon) restored. 

I’m being a bit flippant, but a current controversy in White Rock is an important reminder: trees benefit all of us and our governments need to recognize that. 

Premier Clark promises investigation of health impacts of oil industry!

28 March, 2011

A 2010 EDRF grant to the Peace Environment and Safety Trustees Society (PESTS) may be paying off: The Alaska Highway Times is reporting that Premier Christy Clark has promised an investigation into the health effects of the oil and gas industry in the Peace River region.