Petition delivered to block changes to B.C. parks
Visitors to B.C.'s Yoho National Park spin around Emerald Lake in a rented canoe. (PHOTO TRACY McLAUGHLIN)
Environmental groups say a 166,000-name petition demanding the repeal of legislation making changes to provincial parks proves the public fears industrial uses being allowed in park areas.
The petition asking for Bill 4 to be rescinded was delivered to the B.C. legislature Wednesday by several environmental groups.
Gwen Barlee, policy director for the Wilderness Committee, said the changes to parks management set out in the bill were done without consultation, creating a public backlash.
“It shows how outraged people are that the government passed legislation that enables industrial research in parks specifically for logging companies, mining companies, oil and gas companies,” Barlee said. “Then the company can turn around and ask that land to be removed from the park.”
She said more than 30 parks have already been “earmarked” by Victoria for adjustments so they can be used for industrial purposes.
The Ministry of the Environment responded that, despite the petition, the environmental groups have it wrong.
“To be absolutely clear, these amendments do not allow, promote or otherwise enable industrial projects in parks and protected areas,” said the ministry in a statement. “Suggestions that future mining, forestry or other industrial operations will be allowed in parks are simply not true.”
Barlee said the bill was created as legal cover because the government had issued such permits in the past, and she scoffed at the ministry’s defence of the changes.
“That’s just flat out untrue,” Barlee said. “What has happened, I believe, is their own legal counsel thought they weren’t on solid legal ground when they were giving permits to companies like Kinder Morgan to do invasive research in five B.C. parks.”
Barlee said that as far as she’s concerned, there isn’t a park safe in the province under the legislation.