Monday April 16, 2012

2012 By-Election

What They Said

Candidates respond to Bales' APP questions

Submitted by Wendy Bales, FVRD Dir. Area C


he Aggregate Pilot Project (APP) could affect many area residents property values health, safety, community watersheds, aquifers, salmon and other habitats, major tourist interests and road corridors to name a few things.

The APP was supposed to address community conflicts as well as assure aggregate supplies. Over the last decade gravel mining has just about tripled in B.C. while meaningful regulating or enforcement has plummeted, or often left to residents to monitor. Whether because of the outdated mines Act or the proposed APP, conflict over area pits has escalated What is your stand on the gravel issues and the proposed APP and the outdated B.C. Mines Act?

Minister Terry Lake agreed in a letter to me the cumulative impact of area pits pose a serious problem for our community watershed, which I believe could also affect the Harrison river. As well the Auditor General put the aquifer in a high risk category. This is a watershed that local municipalities were considering as a future water source. Minister Lake also stated on the April 4th 2012 Bill good show " If you don't have an environment nothing else matters". As it is also one of the world's most important salmon habitats and a significant international tourist area as well as water source, would you be in favor of turning the local watersheds and corridor into a gravel zone? If not how would you protect the area?

From the Office of BC NDP candidate Gwen O'Mahony

I have been involved with concerned citizens and groups who are working hard to resolve issues arising from the way gravel extraction is being done in our community. I have heard from many residents and First Nations about the lack of consultation, confusion about the process and the responsibilities of the three levels of government, concerns about damage to our environment, the negative effects on other industries like tourism, and important quality of life issues like excessive noise and dust pollution. It is abundantly clear that there has not been sufficient regard for the public interest and the environment from non permitted operations or in the permit approval process, and in the monitoring and enforcement that is supposed to be happening afterwards. Closed doors have characterized too many of those decisions and that approach has increased the conflicts and the confusion.

If elected as your MLA, I will continue to work closely with residents and I will bring pressure to bear on the provincial government and provincial ministries involved in regulating the gravel industry and protecting the environment and residents' interests.

BC Liberal MLA Randy Hawes' Aggregate Pilot Project (APP) is not meeting the test with respect to balancing our community's economic, social and environmental goals and I have not supported this APP initiative for that reason. I will work hard to bring greater clarity to how decisions are being made, to ensure that the decision-making and approval process is open and
transparent, and to ensure better planning and assessment so our environment and other industries that are important for our community are not ignored.

We need more and much better public consultation and accountability. We need more and better enforcement of both local government by-laws and federal and provincial legislation. We need greater clarity on which level of government actually has decision-making and enforcement responsibilities. (The current court case on this issue involving the Municipality of
Peachland may be very important in helping to sort that out).

We need to see laws, by-laws and public decision-making processes that give people confidence that their needs as local residents, the needs of water quality and fish habitat protection, the interests of First Nations, the needs of the tourism industries, and the goals of reclamation will be addressed as well as the interests of those in the aggregate industries.

I want to add that there are companies that do have regard for local residents and the environment but it is up to governments to make sure that all extraction activity is happening in a way our community can get behind and I want to play a positive role in that process going forward.

From the Office of BC Conservative candidate John Martin

With respect to gravel extraction and limits, enforcement divisions of the
government have been cut - this is similar to how the criminal justice
system has been cut to the point where prosecutions are being dropped due to
lack of timely court time. Without adequate enforcement, it will not matter
how much additional legislation is in place - the gravel extractors that go
beyond their permitted amount will continue to get away with it until they
are caught.

Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice