Opinion

COLUMNS: Look at the big picture

According to the polls, environmental issues aren’t at the top of many of our worry lists, unless of course, something happened in our back yards to get our attention, like the Mount Polley spill or rail-tie burning.

The B.C. government’s granting permits to both the mine and the power plant, allowing them to proceed with their plans, will likely be a local election issues, but it begs the broader question, like who is minding the store in terms of determining the cumulative effects? We tend to focus on one thing at a time, overlooking the bigger picture, like what are the impacts, current and long term, of BC’s environmental policies and practices.

If proper procedures had been in place and enforced, would the Mount Polley spill have happened? Did the ministries of health and environment do a thorough job of assessing Williams Lake’s air quality before issuing the rail-tie permit? Are all the air polluters in the valley monitored? If not, why not? On another front, why can’t or won’t the health ministry enforce the existing standards for senior’s long term care facilities? What about social services and children in care? Back to natural resources, there are concerns over what is happening with forests, farmland, water, fracking — it goes on and on. Do many industries/agencies ever face consequences for infractions ?

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Are the Cariboo candidates satisfied with the status quo? Or do they think their parties should review and update current policies and practices in order to cope with today’s threats to the environment and to our well being? Setting a few sustainability standards for our resources would be nice while they’re at it. A peek at past reports, including those from former Auditor Generals, might be helpful. So would providing enough staff to do the monitoring and enforcing.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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