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

Heather’s Hope Chest offers Chilliwack women and girls a helping hand

The new ‘free store’ for vulnerable women and girls provides them with household items at no charge

Rainbow crosswalk count will rise to 16 in Chilliwack

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Brother of Chilliwack homicide victim killed in Surrey on Remembrance Day

Andrew Baldwin shot on Nov. 11, three weeks after Keith Baldwin shot in downtown Chilliwack

Volunteer organization provides first aid and rescue services

Main fundraiser, the Winter Extreme Ski and Board Swap, takes place at Abbotsford Exhibition Park Nov. 16 and 17

WATCH: Paralyzed ex motocross champion is returning to Chilliwack for book launch

Brent Worrall says he is living proof that no one should ever give up hope

VIDEO: B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

UPDATE: Metro Vancouver bus drivers to refuse overtime as transit strike escalates

Overtime ban could disrupt 10-15 per cent of bus service in Metro Vancouver

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

South Surrey man and city settle beef over backyard cow

Asad Syed, who kept a calf on his property last year, met City of Surrey in court Tuesday

Batten down the hatches: Wet and windy weekend on the way for coastal B.C.

Environment Canada issues special weather warning for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

Most Read