B.C. Liberals undermine the environment with regulation changes

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VICTORIA — The B.C. Liberal plan that allows gas plants and ski resorts to be built without an environmental assessment is an assault on the public interest and the environment says New Democrat environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert.

“The B.C. Liberals are quietly gutting rules that were put in place to protect communities and the environment from the adverse effects of gas plants and ski resorts without even attempting to make their case to British Columbians for why these changes are needed,” said Chandra Herbert.

“Environmental Assessments are designed to give people a say over what takes place in and around their communities. With this decision the Liberals are telling people they don’t care what British Columbians have to say, and that healthy air, water, and land isn’t a priority.”

Chandra Herbert said the unilateral changes are especially concerning given two pieces of legislation introduced this spring will give the government the power to make other changes that weaken protections for parks and farmland similarly without any notice, consultation or public process.

“The B.C. Liberals claimed they didn’t need to consult with the people of B.C. before removing protections for our parks because they would consult on the regulations, and they say the same thing about Bill 24, which will weaken the Agricultural Land Reserve,” said Chandra Herbert. “Clearly the B.C. Liberals can’t be trusted to consult before making massive changes to the regulations that are supposed to protect communities and the environment.”

Chandra Herbert said that it appears that one of the main reasons the regulations were changed is in order to ensure the Jumbo Ski Resort, a pet project of the B.C. Liberal government, is able to go forward without further public process after its environmental assessment certificate expires in October.

“It’s outrageous for the B.C. Liberals to disregard the public interest and the environment in this heavy-handed and undemocratic way,” said Chandra Herbert.

“Environmental assessments are essential to ensuring that when projects do go forward, the concerns of local communities have been heard and acted upon, and the best possible environmental mitigation has been put in place. Projects that have serious impacts on communities and the environment should have to make their case to the public before going forward.”