For over five years B.C. has marketed itself to the world as a wonderful natural playground. This brand still holds true. Today there are changes on the horizon that could take the word “natural” out of the tagline.
Our government is reviewing a number of proposals province-wide that will have an impact on the perception of B.C. as “natural.” In Howe Sound alone we have the proposed Burnco open pit mine in McNab Creek. The LNG plant on the old Woodfibre site will bring us liquefied natural gas. Plus there is a proposal to log almost a quarter of Gambier Island. These three proposals do not take into consideration existing industry in the Sound. Each proponent offers some return to nearby communities with tax dollars and maybe a sprinkle of jobs. Adversely, they also bring inherent risks to the environment, fragile ecosystems and residents. Most certainly, they will all take away from building on the brand value of B.C. and “our untouched natural beauty.”
Historically, Howe Sound was not so “natural.” We were a polluting industrial playground for large corporations that didn’t care about shoveling waste into the water. We didn’t have government policy in place to hold anyone accountable and we just weren’t smart enough to know consequences for our actions. But with the Britannia Mine closing in 1976 there was new hope for our fragile Sound. In 2005, Epcor began the process of cleaning up Britannia and the mine. Today the mine is a National Historic Site and museum. More importantly, the water that now flows into the Sound from Britannia is clean!
Today, with even more cleanup initiatives underway, Howe Sound has seen whales and porpoises return, the 2013 Chinook salmon was a record high and Squamish’s Blind Channel is seeing a more vibrant ecosystem return.
The proposals put forth will re-industrialize Howe Sound, taking us backward instead of forward. Where does the industrialization of our Sound stop? Where is the legislation that restricts certain industries from building within a certain radius of communities? Where are the updated policies with measures for safety and risk, especially considering the unpredictability of climate change. Why can liquefied natural gas be stored above ground on a tanker when we know the safer alternative is to have it below ground?
Extreme wind, record-breaking rain, land tremors, sinkholes, droughts, fires, earthquakes and fault lines are in today’s vernacular as they relate to the world and our own backyard.
I do not want “flammable, potentially risky, polluting and not-so-natural” industry close to residential communities anywhere, not just my backyard.
I plead with residents of the Sea to Sky Corridor to send a strong message to all levels of government on where you stand regarding these proposals. The world is changing at record-breaking speed and government policy is not catching up. Let’s make sure our politicians know what we value. Let’s protect Howe Sound and make it a World Heritage Site.