Cutting Up the Safety Net
As society grapples with environmental problems ranging from toxic contamination to climate change, it is essential that government maintain a safety net of robust laws, policies and programs aimed at protecting our environment and building a solid foundation from which to grow a thriving, sustainable economy. Over the last several decades, BC has slowly sewn together an environmental safety net. It has never been as strong as it should be, but at times, components of the net have been exemplary. Regulation of contaminated sites and pulp mill effluent were far ahead of other jurisdictions. On the other hand, BCs environmental safety net has fallen short in other areas such as public environmental rights, endangered species protection and laws requiring integration of environmental concerns into government policies that chart the course for our future economic development. The holes that existed in the environmental safety net at the end of the last century are a concern, but a larger concern is what has happened in the last few years. In hundreds of changes to laws, policies and programs, the Provincial government has weakened the environmental safety net. Some fibres have been snipped altogether, others have been made threadbare and existing holes have been left to grow larger.