Tag Archives: flawed environmental process

The fraudulent public hearings


We are reading a lot about “hearings” these days, especially as they relate to private rivers and pipelines/tanker traffic.

And, on the surface, what could be fairer than to let the public in on the decision making process?

I have indeed spoken of these things before.

The hearings are a fraud, plain and simple, for the public is denied the opportunity to make their views known on the wisdom of the project. The last hearings that meant anything were the BC Utilities Commission hearings about three years ago which reported back that the private rivers policy was “not in the public interest.”

The Campbell government immediately defanged the Commission, for embarrassing findings were not a good idea as far as the government was concerned.

There’s much to be said for technical hearings into environmental matters.

As long as the decision to hold them comes after the public has had a chance to air its opinions.

British Columbians had that right through the Regional District until 2008 when the Squamish Lillooet Regional District vetoed the plan to dam the Ashlu River. The Campbell government immediately took the power to evaluate away from the Regional Districts.

Ashlu is a cautionary tale, for everything the public and experts said about this proposed venture came true. It is an environmental nightmare with thousands of fish blocked from passage by the dam – so delicately referred to as the “weir” by the company.

I have been to a number of joint federal/provincial hearings and, as I have said before, I’d rather have a root canal without novocaine than attend another. The chair and the company representative are joined at the hip even demonstrably socializing before and after the “hearing”. The desirability of the project is off limits for the great unwashed, not so for the company spokesperson who can sing the project’s praises as much as he likes.

Now, let’s go to the root of the matter. Unless you live in an NDP riding. no one is raising questions on your behalf.

Isn’t it remarkable that with a project getting more and more opposed by the public, not one provincial Liberal MLA nor any federal Tory MP will utter a peep about the wisdom of the pipelines and tanker traffic proposed? When they do mention it, like my Conservative MP John Weston, they demonstrate an utter lack of understanding of what is proposed. Think on that – not one single government MLA or MP has demanded hearings into the wisdom of the project before it moves to the environmental assessment stage.

It’s worse, actually, for the Prime Minister has made it plain that no matter what the joint hearings into the pipelines and tankers recommend, the projects will go ahead.

Thus is the state of democracy in this province.


Feds walk away from environmental assessments on almost 500 projects in B.C.


Read this article by Larry Pynn in the Vancouver Sun. Excerpt: “Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has washed its hands of environmental assessments of nearly 500 projects in B.C. as a result of a revised Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

“The 492 wide-ranging projects include gravel extraction on the lower Fraser River, run-of-river hydro projects and wind farms, bridge construction as well as demolition of the old Port Mann Bridge, shellfish aquaculture operations, hazardous-waste facilities and liquid-waste disposal.

“Ottawa is also walking away from conducting assessments on various agricultural and municipal drainage works, log-handling facilities, small-craft harbour and marina development and expansion, the sinking of ex-warships as artificial reefs, the disposal of dredged material, and a 73-hectare mixed-use development on Tsawwassen First Nation lands.” (August 22, 2012)

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Feds+walk+away+from+environmental+assessments+almost+projects/7125419/story.html

Clark photo-op with PM Harper

Dix Committed to Revoking Equivalency Agreement


Here at The Common Sense Canadian we published, in great detail, beginning in May, the moves the BC Liberals had done behind the scenes to forfeit our Province’s ability to review, assess and decide on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project.

In particular, we focused in like a laser on the Equivalency Agreement (EA) the Liberals initiated and signed in secret back in 2010.

We explained how the Minister did the highly unusual and unorthodox move of giving up his ministerial powers as clearly outlined in section 27 of the relevant act, by assigning them to the senior staff of the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). This bold move was an obvious attempt to avoid the political scrutiny that occurs when a Minister of the Crown exercises executive privilege to circumvent standard process.

We went on to point out how this was done at the same time his government was accepting accolades from the green communityfor the Clean Energy Act, and the contentious carbon tax.

We underscored how the EA required public input from stakeholders and publishing in the Gazette, all of which some how escaped the standard scrutiny these processes typically attract. We pointed to the work of Robyn Allanwho was courageous enough to publish an open letter demanding the Premier review such unbecoming behaviour and revoke the Equivalency Agreement (EA).

All of which was met with stunning silence on behalf of Ms. Clark and her lame duck government. She treated the whole ordeal as if the agreement never existed as did the minister responsible.

We asked you, the reader, to follow up on the issue and contact the government and demand accountability.

The BC Liberals continued to ignore the pleas.

Now, after considerable due diligence it seems the Official Opposition has thoroughly aired the issue through its team of legal beagles and finally we have seen a move on the issue. Adrian Dix has declared that within one week of being elected premier he will in fact revoke the agreementand move on setting up a “Made in BC” process to review the proposed pipeline.

No word yet on what that means for the other three projects outlined in that Equivalency agreement but this bold move is certainly a step in the right direction.

The BC Liberal government is caught flat footed now and must do more than cast aspersions.

The whole sordid affair of how this agreement came about and why they moved to close the door on our Province’s ability to make decisions about the use of our land and coast needs to be unearthed. Their work has virtually tied the hands of British Columbian stakeholders, from First Nations to coastal communities and through the many people who rely on tourism and fisheries .

In fact, every British Columbian has a stake in this decision and the BC Liberals need to explain why they gave our power away, behind the scenes and in secret.


Serious shortcomings in environmental assessments


Legitimate objections to government projects sometimes fall way too short of the mark.

In Narrows Inlet, lower Sunshine Coast in BC, legitimate and serious concerns over silt dumps from bottom draining, ice scoured, high alpine lakes and dumping massive amounts of ice scoured silt into prime fish habitat… were ignored. so, what purpose Environment assessment submissions then?

And now all government officials have evidently been gagged… their silence over environmental degradation and the fish kills – when alevins were migrating to the sea – is deafening.

The Conservation officer? Mr gun touting. environmental protection? “The proponent has invested a lot of money” followed by “I have no boat”.

The DFO senior biogist? “No environmental damage” – a claim made from his desk in Nanaimo… as proven after 19 polite email requests – none of which werre responded to… for the date of his inspection, into a project he assessed, and approved and then happily investigated… an FOI revealed he flew in on May 1… fully six weeks after the silt dump occurred …. when, as siltation expert, as any kid in a mud puddle knows, he knew the silt would have settled out of suspension in still water by that time.

And the proponent’s team?… the initial biologist? his brother … who invited residents “… to stop their dissent and invest in this Gold Rush” and since defrocking that multiple conflict of interest, residents have had four successive expert biologist who do not bother to consult with affected residents whose drinking water is to be fouled.

And there are 600 of these IPPs planned province wide. and the EAO… a token assessment… even after accepting a ride in with residents as the “proponent was not objective”!

And the supposedly required Visual Impact Presentation for the Ramona project? Not seen in two years of asking, particularly, not after the massive Tyson Lake private profit power project silt dumps by the same proponent.

And the dolly varden? stealhead? “blue listed” cutthroat trout? huh?

And the mountain goats, shore bears, trumpeter swans, osprey? … none seen since the inlet was industrialized.


Prosperity Mine Rejection Highlights Flawed BC Environmental Assessment


agreed that if the Prosperity gold-copper mine project went ahead in
the Chilcotin, fish would die and habitat would be lost. The question
was: should the mine go ahead regardless?  A B.C. environmental
review concluded it should, while a federal review concluded it
shouldn’t: dramatically different outcomes that are generating criticism
of the way the province approves major projects. Read more of Vancouver Sun article here