Environment critic tours the Boundary
Boundary area groups concerned about environmental issues took the opportunity to bring their messages forward to New Democratic Party (NDP) last week.
Over the past few months leading up to the provincial government election in May of 2013, NDP candidate for the Boundary Similkameen, Marji Basso, has been active not only in campaigning, but bringing regional issues to the attention of key party leaders. Last week Basso arranged for Rob Fleming, environment opposition critic and MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, to tour the Boundary to talk about environmental issues.
“As opposition critic many people I’ve met today are ones who have written me or copied me on correspondence to either the MLA for the area or to the Minister of Environment,” said Fleming.
“It was good to see first-hand a lot of issues that have been described to me in correspondence. The common theme today was water and land – how there a number of ideas and concerns on how to improve the way the people live off the land here and need the attention of government to help with the stewardship concerns people have in the region.”
From forest practices to resource management and mining policies, Fleming was educated by locals about their various environmental challenges.
Starting the day meeting with local foresters about resource practices that they feel don’t serve the needs of the community, Fleming went on to tour Marshall Lake (facing drainage and dam decommissioning), the Gilpin Grasslands (resource management for wildlife and habitat), Christina Lake to discuss milfoil eradication, Lynch Creek granite bluffs (threatened by mining and hosting endangered species) and landing in Grand Forks to meet with NDP members.
The day was educational for Fleming, as he talked with residents about solutions that could create win-win resolutions for the many parties involved in regional environmental issues.
“It’s tough to come into a region where you can sense the frustration that constituents have with their own MLA, not being heard and not getting the attention of Victoria,” Fleming commented. “I’ve listened to the concerns, and I don’t have all the answers to offer, but it seems to me from what I did see that there’s a lot of opportunities to satisfy the concerns that people have.”
Fleming anticipates that environmental issues will be key provincial election issues in the coming year including the Enbridge pipeline, options to improve the use of the carbon tax, watershed management and resource management practices.
“There’s an understanding in this region, and other parts of the province, that really for the last 10 years we have diminished the number of qualified professionals and people in the community who are able to manage the land better,” said Fleming. “There really aren’t any eyes and ears on the ground anymore. That’s leading to all sorts of bad things in different regions of B.C.”
Wrapping up the tour of the region, Basso added her appreciation for the local residents who participated in the day.
“We have groups of passionate people that are willing to go above and beyond to reach out to everybody and anybody who will listen about what they’re seeing happen in their backyard and making sure that their voice is being heard,” Basso added. “I always get really inspired when we see these local groups… that have pulled together and are willing to work towards something that is going to benefit everyone in the Boundary.”