Changes to Park Act condemned by environmentalists for threats to protected areas
VANCOUVER - Six of the largest environmental groups in B.C. joined together today to condemn a B.C. Government proposal to allow industry to carry out “research” within B.C.’s protected areas related to pipelines, transmission lines, roads and other industrial activities.
West Coast Environmental Law Association, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC), the Wilderness Committee, Greenpeace, ForestEthics Solutions and Sierra Club BC are concerned with Bill 4, the “Park Amendment Act, 2014” that was introduced last Thursday, February 13th in the B.C. Legislature.
In addition to the Bill allowing “research” by industry it also reduces legal protection for smaller parks and facilitates industrial access and altering park boundaries to allow for industrial activities on those lands.
“This legislation is about making it easier for pipelines and other industrial activity to take place within BC Parks,” said Anna Johnston of West Coast Environmental Law Association, “It weakens the Park Act and is a bad idea for the environment and communities.”
The Bill amendment allows for, yet does not define “research” activities. There is concern that industrial research could include exploratory drilling, ore sampling and road building: activities that are inconsistent with park purposes.
“B.C. parks and protected areas belong to all British Columbians. We are concerned that a piece of legislation that erodes that legacy is now being rushed through the House without any consultation with communities, local governments and other stakeholders,” said Gwen Barlee of Wilderness Committee.
Concerns were already heightened when information contained in Minister Polak’s briefing book revealed that the B.C. government has already identified 35 protected areas whose boundaries could be changed to accommodate industrial development.
Over the past 100 years, 14 per cent of B.C.’s land base has been preserved in conservation areas. “Our parks are international treasures and were created to be protected from logging, mining and pipelines,” said Peter Wood of CPAWS-BC. “The government’s proposal to make it easier for industrial development to be permitted within our protected area system is short-sighted and guaranteed to trigger conflict.”
Peter Wood, CPAWS-BC, 604-761-3075
Anna Johnston, West Coast Environmental Law, 604-601-2508
Gwen Barlee, Wilderness Committee, 604-202-0322
Stephanie Goodwin, Greenpeace, 604-761-6722
Valerie Langer, ForestEthics Solutions: 604-307-6448
Bob Peart, Sierra Club BC: 778-922-3295
CPAWS-BC statement on Bill 4:http://cpawsbc.org/news/bcs-parks-act-in-peril
Background on WCEL website:http://wcel.org/resources/environmental-law-alert/park-amendment-bill-paves-way-industrial-exploration