Delegates vote on resolutions Wednesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

Delegates vote on resolutions Wednesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

Local politicians split over environmental ‘rights’

Right to clean water, air and food narrowly supported by UBCM majority, critic says it's 'David Suzuki propaganda'

Over vocal objections from some representatives, local politicians have narrowly endorsed a call for an “environmental bill of rights” for B.C. at their annual convention.

Calling it “an idea whose time has come,” Richmond Coun. Harold Steves sponsored the motion Wednesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver. It calls for recognition of a right to “live in a healthy environment, including the right to clean air, clean water, clean food and vibrant ecosystems.”

Steves reminded delegates of a summer of smoke from forest fires and a drought that saw his Cache Creek farm run out of water. He noted the bill of rights has been supported by 36 municipalities around B.C., after a tour of local councils by the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot campaign.

The idea was quickly challenged.

“How is this resolution going to prevent forest fires and create clean air?” North Cowichan Coun. Al Siebring asked. “It’s not.”

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb dismissed the bill of rights movement as “David Suzuki propaganda” backed by urban people who don’t understand that mining and forestry provide the lumber, copper and other products that build their homes and communities.

Cobb said it already takes years of environmental review before resource extraction can be approved, “and if this passes, it will be another nail in the coffin of rural B.C.”

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz urged support for the bill of rights, arguing it would “raise our consciousness.” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps quoted from a presentation to council by an 11-year-old boy and joined other delegates in calling for the resolution to support future generations.

Coquitlam Coun. Terry O’Neill listed a dozen provincial laws governing clean water, air pollution, public health and food safety. He called on the convention to focus on specific measures instead of asserting rights that are actually “a demand for others to do something for you.”

Nanaimo Regional District director Julian Fell agreed, saying four of the six rights proposed to his board are actually “entitlements.” He called for the UBCM to declare that water and air should be legally guaranteed to remain public assets.

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read