Columns: Money talks

A public meeting tomorrow night (Gibraltar Room, 7 p.m.) will discuss Atlantic Power’s proposal to burn railway ties at the local plant.

A public meeting tomorrow night (Gibraltar Room, 7 p.m.) will discuss Atlantic Power’s proposal to burn railway ties at the local plant.

Citizens’ groups, like the one hosting this meeting, seem to have taken over the job of oversight from the federal and provincial ministries that are supposed to be protecting our long-term interests. What Premier Christy Clark calls “the forces of no” are raising Cain all over B.C., protesting what they fear are unreasonable risks connected with proposed resource developments.

In Kamloops, the issue is a huge mine planned for the city’s backyard. In the Lower Mainland, it’s controversial bridges, pipelines and agricultural land. Coastal communities are having fits about proposed LNG projects. BC Hydro’s Site C dam has upset people from all over the province. It has triggered every kind of protest from hunger strikes to legal challenges, so far to no avail.

The only apparent reason for this hugely expensive and controversial project is that the Clark government wants it. While Site C pushes ahead, the Environment Ministry has yet to decide on a number of other issues, including the tie burning. It seems to me that instead of addressing the concerns of citizens, the resource ministries (forests, mining, agriculture, etc.) appear to be more focussed on expediting projects using “jobs” as the main criteria. There also seems to be a disconnect between ministries.

Maybe if the bureaucrats responsible for overseeing and monitoring resource projects were allowed to do their job, citizens wouldn’t have to. I say “allowed” because there is reason to believe some ministries are underfunded and understaffed. Besides, bureaucrats have to act within government policy, and can be subject to political interference. The problem is, politicians (of all stripes) often don’t see any farther ahead than the next election, and money sometimes talks louder than citizens’ voices, however, it doesn’t look like citizens are going to shut up anytime soon.

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February startled climate scientists by setting a record for seasonal warmness, but March wasn’t far behind. According to satellite data, February was 0.83C warmer than normal, March was 0.73C warmer.

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