Monday, April 7, 2014

Heads-up Canada, B.C. Government Has Given Industry Access to Our Parks: A Drift Card I Found on the Beach

I. Industry Given Access to B.C. Parks

On 26 March 2014, to my disappointment and dismay, I found out that the Government of British Columbia had passed a bill that would drastically alter the management of B.C. parks (2, 3, 4).

Bill 4, the ‘Park Amendment Act’ of 2014 was introduced into the B.C. legislature on February 13 and became law on March 24:
“Bill 4 allows for industry (and others) to carry out ‘research’ in provincial parks related to pipelines, transmission lines, roads and other industrial activities that might require park land. It also reduces legal protection for smaller parks and enables film production in BC parks….

“Bill 4 seems to be premised on the idea park protection unreasonably constrains government and industry. That’s not consistent with the BC government’s claim that parks are a public trust, to be managed for the protection of BC’s natural environment, and the inspiration, use and enjoyment of [the public]. Our protected areas, and we as British Columbians, deserve better.”
The BC Liberals, “conservative and neoliberal” in their philosophy, headed by Christy Clark, once “a partner in a lobbying firm that was contracted by Enbridge and lobbied the federal government on the company's behalf”, passed this law for the benefit of industry without care or consideration for their constituents:
“Previously, a park use permit could not be issued unless the applicant could prove that the activity was ‘necessary for the preservation or maintenance of the recreational values of the park involved.’ Bill 4 removes this safeguard, allowing the Minister to grant a permit if it is determined that the research relates to ‘an environmental assessment or a feasibility study,’ or is ‘necessary to inform decision making around changing the boundaries.’

“A government document obtained in late 2013 via a Freedom of Information request revealed that the BC government is already considering boundary changes to over 30 parks, including for LNG pipelines and the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The Bill also removes certain protections from smaller parks.

“‘The government has sent a clear signal that it is open to having pipelines cut through our globally renowned protected areas’ said Al Martin, BC Wildlife Federation. ‘The Act will now allow industrial exploration in some of BC’s most beloved parks, placing them at risk.’”
Clark and her ilk have justified these detrimental environmental and social decisions based on lies and deceitful propaganda geared towards enriching their corporate partners:
“Two years ago, the province estimated that royalties from this fuel would reach $846 million in this fiscal year. In Finance Minister Mike de Jong’s recent budget, that was cut nearly in half, to $441 million.

“Three years ago, the spring budget pegged revenues from natural-gas royalties at $447 million. As that fiscal year ended, that figure was reduced to $367 million.

“In the worst guess of all, then finance minister Colin Hansen’s 2010-11 budget forecast revenues from natural-gas royalties of $1.25 billion by 2012-13. Three years later, the updated figure was only 11 percent of that amount: $144 million. That’s a shortfall of more than $1.1 billion from the earlier estimate.

“Now Premier Christy Clark is predicting that the province will generate $100 billion in revenues from the export of liquefied natural gas over the next 30 years. But is this prediction as bogus as the government’s other claims regarding natural-gas royalties?

“Marc Lee, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, counts himself among the skeptical.

“‘I just don’t know that the economics will hold up at the end of the day,’ Lee told the Georgia Straight by phone. ‘The government has been making all kinds of bold claims about revenues and jobs and greenhouse-gas emissions that can only be considered propaganda. They’re not really anchored in anything real in terms of estimates going forward.’”
But I digress (2, 3, 4), here is the drift card I found on the beach.

II. Drift Card I Found on the Beach

I had to calm myself after hearing the news that the government of British Columbia, acting on behalf of industry, had amended the B.C. Parks Act to allow for pipelines and resource extraction (see above).

When my blood boils like this, my mind spins, and I find myself lost in fury. For me, the remedy for this turmoil is to go for a walk; at times extremely long and enhanced, at times short and sweet. This excursion was a mix of both, heightened but short, lasting approximately 3 hours.

I gathered some supplies, checked the weather, got my gear together, and headed out. I bee-lined it towards the core of the city, seeking industry. I was lost in thought almost instantly, trying to wrap my head around this insanity.

The smell of business and the sight of structures were surreal. I needed to ground, to find a sense of familiarity.

Being well versed in the realm of comics, aware of the cultural and historical significance of this genre, I found a couple of stores and browsed through their selection. Doing so dissipated my distaste for society, helping me to find the beauty of humanity, bringing me back to reality. It felt like a heavy burden being lifted.

I now felt the need to connect with the natural environment.

I found the busiest road in the city, the main artery, and headed out of the city center towards a park, knowing it would eventually lead me to the shore.

I got lost in thought again; trying to think rationally about what had just occurred and what the consequences would be.

My walk took me through trails, across a bridge, around a pond, allowing me to brush by bushes and mingle among the trees. I could breathe again.

As the vegetation and the remaining few scattered structures slowly parted, I heard the waves. The beach was in sight. My walk slowed, the tension in my body released. I could see clearly again.

Forecasts had called for rain, but the sun was shining. It was windy and brisk, mid-afternoon, around 2 pm. I was surprised to see so many people out and about; walking with their pets, holding hands, talking with friends, lounging, running, playing, laughing. It was beautiful. It was calming.

I found myself on the beach in a slow stroll, reflecting on nature, economics and politics, and how corruption and greed is running rampant within my community. I had focus again.

That’s when I saw a black question mark painted on a small pink piece of plywood beside my feet. I stopped, picked it up, looked at it perplexed, and flipped it over. It was a drift card of an ocean circulation study being conducted by the Salish Sea Spill Map project (see pic below - click to enlarge).
Welcome to the Salish Sea Spill Map

“Kinder Morgan plans to ship 400 tankers loaded with tar sands oil each year through the Salish Sea. If the oil spilled, where would it go, and what iconic and ecologically important places could be affected?

“This map is part of a research project to better understand the path an oil spill might take, and how far the oil could travel. This fall, we are dropping over 1000 drift cards at key locations along the tanker route from Burrard Inlet, and their recovery locations will help to create a series of maps showing different spill scenarios.

Get involved! Report a drift card that you’ve found. Or explore the rest of the website to see the map, find out more about the threats to the region, and take action.”
click to enlarge

I’m not sure if this was just coincidence or synchronicity, and I am still undecided as to what my next course of action will be. What I am certain of is that I am not alone and that I know my enemy.

So heads-up Canada, there is a study being conducted in British Columbia trying to improve our knowledge of ocean currents, potential oil spill trajectories, and to raise awareness of tanker traffic in the Salish Sea. If you find a small colored piece of plywood with a question mark on it from the beach, read the instructions and report the card; you’ll find out where the card came from and what it means.

The more data collected, the better we understand the consequences of this incursion and exploitation of our natural environment. Here is a map showing the location of where I found my card and where it was released (click to enlarge).

click to enlarge - source

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