B.C. environmentalists condemn Bill 4 implications
Environmental groups are accusing Victoria of failing to talk to them in regards to the recently introduced Bill 4, proposed legislation they claim could enable pipelines and other construction in protected areas. (FILE PHOTO)
B.C. environmental groups are alleging a new bill introduced suddenly in Victoria last week will give industry the right to tread on provincial parks if passed.
The Sierra Club and ForestEthics Solutions on Monday expressed their concern the ultimate goal of Bill 4 is to clear the path to run pipelines through protected wilderness.
Valerie Langer of ForestEthics Solutions said the move could result in natural gas pipelines going through protected areas on the West Coast and is upset Victoria hasn’t spoken to environment groups about the bill.
“You can bet that when government is about to pass legislation that would affect particular industrial sectors, they have a conversation with those industrial sectors first,” she said. “At the very least the province should be consulting with the environmental movement who helped establish all of these parks.”
According to the legislation, which passed first reading Thursday, feasibility studies for pipelines, transmission lines and even highways would be allowed in protected areas.
The legislation doesn’t include areas smaller than 2023 hectares.
“We have one request immediately,” Langer said, “that this not go through second reading and that the ministry sit down and talk through the implications of any changes to the parks act with the community who has been primary in establishing planning for protected areas.”
The Ministry of Environment said many parks already have such projects within their boundaries.
“This legislation, if passed, will amend the Park Act to provide clear and consistent direction respecting the province’s ability to authorize a variety of outdoor recreation, tourism and research activities in parks and conservancies,” the ministry said in a statement. “This includes authorizing research for academic and investigative purposes in parks.”