Delegates vote on resolutions Wednesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

Local politicians split over environmental ‘rights’

Right to clean water, air and food narrowly supported by UBCM majority, critic says it's 'David Suzuki propaganda'

Over vocal objections from some representatives, local politicians have narrowly endorsed a call for an “environmental bill of rights” for B.C. at their annual convention.

Calling it “an idea whose time has come,” Richmond Coun. Harold Steves sponsored the motion Wednesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver. It calls for recognition of a right to “live in a healthy environment, including the right to clean air, clean water, clean food and vibrant ecosystems.”

Steves reminded delegates of a summer of smoke from forest fires and a drought that saw his Cache Creek farm run out of water. He noted the bill of rights has been supported by 36 municipalities around B.C., after a tour of local councils by the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot campaign.

The idea was quickly challenged.

“How is this resolution going to prevent forest fires and create clean air?” North Cowichan Coun. Al Siebring asked. “It’s not.”

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb dismissed the bill of rights movement as “David Suzuki propaganda” backed by urban people who don’t understand that mining and forestry provide the lumber, copper and other products that build their homes and communities.

Cobb said it already takes years of environmental review before resource extraction can be approved, “and if this passes, it will be another nail in the coffin of rural B.C.”

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz urged support for the bill of rights, arguing it would “raise our consciousness.” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps quoted from a presentation to council by an 11-year-old boy and joined other delegates in calling for the resolution to support future generations.

Coquitlam Coun. Terry O’Neill listed a dozen provincial laws governing clean water, air pollution, public health and food safety. He called on the convention to focus on specific measures instead of asserting rights that are actually “a demand for others to do something for you.”

Nanaimo Regional District director Julian Fell agreed, saying four of the six rights proposed to his board are actually “entitlements.” He called for the UBCM to declare that water and air should be legally guaranteed to remain public assets.

Just Posted

Being Young: Concussions, not my idea of a good time

I had to get doctor’s notes excusing me from classes and from both of my jobs.

Maple Ridge’s indoor pool redo in final months

Structural work done, with target opening to be late summer

Police investigating body found in Maple Ridge park

Discovered early Friday near highway

Maple Ridge’s lake low with dry spell

Boat launch not open at Alouette Lake

Maple Ridge magnetic hill defies the law of Newton

It is a stretch of road where cars roll uphill instead of down

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vancouver-bound transit bus involved in fatal crash near Seattle

One man was killed and a woman injured in crash with bus purchased by TransLink

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read