Advocating for the public interest in British Columbia
Commons BC is currently focusing on several key issues, all of which have climate implications as well as implications for human safety and the health of the ecological system we are dependent on: the Site C dam, BC’s rapid deforestation and destruction of hydrology and habitat, and fracking/LNG. In all three areas, the profits largely accrue to multinational corporate entities that are not based in BC and do not reinvest here, though they are heavily subsidized with public monies.
The Site C Dam
The Site C dam is a hydroelectric project being built on the Peace River in BC’s Northeast to deliver energy to the fossil fuel industry, at a cost much higher per megawatt than BC could produce with modern tech like wind or geothermal. It will permanently destroy one of BC’s few Class 1 agricultural valleys, and has the most adverse environmental effects of any project assessed by the government. Rejected multiple times by the regulator, the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), and by previous versions of BC Hydro itself, politicians have pushed the Site C dam through using legislation written specifically to bypass the regulator. The dam is being built on unstable shale mud and is thus a risk to both workers and communities downstream. It is also a serious violation of Treaty 8 and it violates UNDRIP. We are calling for a cessation of work on the dam until there is an independent safety review, and until West Moberly First Nation’s BC Supreme Court case is heard. We would also like BC Hydro to open its books to the public; it is, after all, funded by us. International energy experts like Robert McCullough have observed that this is the most opaque energy project they have ever analyzed. Find out more about why Site C is bad for our economy, bad for jobs, and bad for British Columbian families. It is not too late to stop this dam! Please write or call your MLA. Find your MLA here: https://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members
Trouble in BC’s Forests
A letter to the CBC in October 2019 from BC forest expert Jim Cooperman best encapsulates the situation in BC’s forests:
As a long-time forest activist who once worked in the forest industry, my message to the province regarding the closure of sawmills and loss of jobs is “we told you so.” For years we have been repeating the same message, that the province’s forests are being overcut and the result will be degraded ecosystems, loss of species, damage to fresh water supplies and the loss of jobs. The industry is the architect of its own demise and while forest forest workers are but pawns in this travesty, the forest companies have taken their well-subsidized profits and invested the money into sawmills in the U.S. where tree plantations grow many times faster than they do here. B.C.’s forests have been ravaged and while B.C. citizens are left with the mess, the corporations will continue to profit south of the border. This travesty is so sad, so predictable and was so preventable.
The annual allowable cut (AAC) in BC’s forests has long been too high for good forest management. It was artificially made higher in recent years to deal with trees killed by the pine beetle infestation, but then never reduced as promised. Now forest companies are pushing for yet higher cut, and to cut the very last of our old growth forests while putting little back into BC. Companies are logging in or near watersheds, threatening water supply and raising the risk of flooded communities. Virtually all of BC’s forest cover has been logged; the end of old growth forests is called “timber falldown” and that’s where we are now. All of the crumbs of old growth forest that remain must be preserved, as many endangered populations rely on them from grizzlies to caribou. We must also ensure that forestry workers are given good jobs in properly-managed forests, value-added manufacturing or through retraining. The forest corporations may talk about jobs but they have been busy closing mills and laying off workers while exporting our raw logs. This is unsustainable.
What should we do? We are calling for: