Who decides? Who benefits? BC’s system of licences and leases for logging and mining is a root cause of unsustainable resource extraction.
Control over the vast majority of British Columbia’s land base is allocated to resource companies through an overlapping set of resource licences and leases. By law, corporations that hold resource “tenures” like tree farm licences and mining leases are entrusted with substantial rights and decision-making responsibility over most of the provincial land base. Historically, this has led to the prioritization of these private interests over those of the environment and communities, and resulting harm to our land and water.
Likewise, our gold rush-era mining laws give the mining industry precedence over virtually all other land uses. For example, mining gets a free pass from zoning by-laws and land use plans that apply to other sectors.
BC allows online staking of mineral claims with the click of a computer mouse and a credit card, and once a claim has been staked, the provincial government has no discretion to deny the holder a lengthy mining lease. The system allows staking of First Nations’ territories without consultation or consent. Even private landowners may not prevent exploration and mining activity once their property has been staked.
It’s time for change. West Coast has developed comprehensive proposals for the reform of our forestry and mineral tenure systems.
Top photo: Andrew Wright