The Industrialization of British Columbia


From – Dec. 11, 2010

by Ray Grigg

To many British Columbians, “Super, Natural British Columbia” was a reassuring slogan. At least it tacitly recognized the incredible beauty and the astounding ecological diversity of BC – one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. Implicit in this marketing slogan was the promise that BC’s remarkable scenery and richness would be acknowledged as an invaluable and irreplaceable public asset.

So the shift in marketing to “The Best Place On Earth” should have been noted with foreboding, primarily because the expression is too vague to mean anything in particular. Is it “The Best Place On Earth” to gamble? To ship illegal immigrants? To get rich by unregulated speculation? To export raw logs? To operate polluting mines? To drill for methane and gas? To build pipelines? To open new tanker routes for shipping oil to Asia?

The emphasis during the last decade in British Columbia has shifted away from “Super, Natural” toward industrialization. The change has never been official, never publicly declared or explicitly decided by plebiscite or election. But governance of the province has abetted this shift with the relaxation of regulations, with the weakening of oversight, and with environmental assessments becoming little more than ritualistic exercises invariably favouring industrial development over conservation and precautionary measures. The shift has been gradual and pervasive. But not so subtle for the few British Columbians who have noted the signs. Many more, however, are now aware of the loosened rules, the auctioned resources, the changed landscapes, and the exploited places in which everything natural seems to be for sale.

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About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.