Twice now, I have listened patiently to [East Kootenay MLA] Bill Bennett’s defence of the Jumbo development in order to try to understand his reasoning. On both occasions, Mr. Bennett has been careful to assert that he understood the opposition, but thought it was important to go ahead because the proponent had been abused by the process due to the longevity of the deliberation.
His opinion is that the poor proponent has earned the right to go ahead by virtue of the fact that all the appropriate steps have been taken.
Mr. Bennett now feels we are obligated to allow the development to proceed. Much of his defence is based on the Environmental Review Process.
The people who do the environmental review are paid by taxpayers and one would think that they are working for the benefit of those taxpayers, but I do not believe that is the case. The reviewers have no power to decide in the first place that the proposed project is reasonable, they are simply presented with a project and are told to consider that project to be reasonable and viable. Their only function is to do their best to mitigate the environmental damage to the point that the project will be accepted by the people.
They are not there to protect the environment, they are there to sell the project to an ignorant public. When they hold public hearings, the public is not permitted to state their opinion on the project, they can only ask questions of the proponent regarding issues that they have with the project. The proponent then does its best to mitigate the public concerns. Having done so, the project, no matter how damaging or bone-headed it is, is allowed to go ahead.
Under this process any entrepreneur’s pipe dream is considered feasible and the environment always takes a back seat to the economy. Only politicians can stop the project, so if right wing fundamentalists run the government, the environment will always be sacrificed for the almighty buck.
Mr. Bennett claims that the process has been democratic, but from the very beginning it has been clear that the majority of residents of the East and West Kootenays have been opposed. Perhaps rather that feigning shame at having mistreated the proponent for the last 22 years, he should wear a little shame at having consistently ignored the majority of Kootenay taxpayers, and cramming the project down our throats.
I have hiked to the Lake of the Hanging Glacier. Forty three kilometres of rough mountain road followed by a stiff five mile hike up the mountain. It is the most beautiful mountain hike I have ever hiked. Arriving at that beautiful alpine lake with its rafts of glacier calves, flanked by beautiful unspoiled 10,000 ft peaks was a spiritual experience even to an atheist like me.
Mr. Bennett waxed in his interview about how wonderful it will be to have five glaciers to ski and snowboard on and at the fabulous view of Lake of the Hanging Glacier which will be available from the gondola lift.
It may indeed be a wonderful view, but it will completely destroy the experience to those of us who prefer the wilderness solitude. I don’t think Mr. Bennett understands that point of view at all. That makes me feel a little sorry for him, but not sorry enough to agree to allow him to spoil that beautiful mountain gem that we all own in order to create a legacy for himself that he can brag about to his unfortunate brain-washed right wing grandchildren.
Anyone with half a brain (the left half) can see that handing five publicly owned glaciers over to a private developer to pursue a profit making venture is not good for the people of beautiful British Columbia.