Jobs plus ecology

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Salmon Arm Observer

posted Dec 3, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Providing jobs and maintaining a healthy environment are not mutually exclusive.

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That message was one Spencer Chandra Herbert, NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End/Coal Harbour, brought to Salmon Arm Saturday in his talk entitled: There is no Planet B: Protecting our ecology and economy.

Herbert is environment critic in the NDP shadow cabinet. He was invited to town to speak at the BC NDP Shuswap Constituency Association’s annual general meeting.

Herbert said the biggest symbol of how the BC Liberals handle interactions with resources was the Mount Polley mine tailings pond breach in August.

“It is really shocking what was allowed to happen there.”

He said devices that measure water pressure remained broken for four years and the government knew, but didn’t require the company to fix them.

Closer to home, he pointed to invasive quagga mussels that were nearly introduced into Okanagan Lake due to inadequacies in environmental protection. Such mussels have devastated lakes in central Canada.

Generally, the processes that should determine environmental protection in B.C. are not fair and open, he said, referring to the Kinder Morgan pipeline where witnesses can’t be cross-examined and answers are not forthcoming.

“That’s the kind of process we have too much of in B.C. right now.”

He said while the NDP supports liquid natural gas, it must be managed properly, both in securing supplies for the future as well as extracting it responsibly.

“Climate is capital as well,” he said, explaining there’s a cost to climate change.

Similarly with the Enbridge pipeline, while the estimated number and value of jobs attached to it vary, it could put fishing industry and tourism jobs at risk.

He said many good solutions exist to reduce emissions – for example, creating a green building code to match what’s being done in Europe. While the B.C. code is coming up for renewal in the spring, he said the government isn’t doing the consultation that could make B.C. a world leader.

Herbert was asked many other questions ranging from smart metres to fish farming.