Supporters of the Kootenay to Kitimat Caravan line the street outside of City Hall on Monday. Last week Nelson council passed a motion to to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project and support the Kootenay to Kitimat Caravan.

Council takes on tough issues

Council has dealt with a couple of controversial issues recently

Continuing into summer with our ongoing City workload, our council has dealt with a couple of controversial issues.

First we saw the tabling of a motion for the “adoption of a public health-based, regulatory approach to cannabis taxation and control” as proposed by the group, Stop the Violence BC. Then, council passed the motion to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project and support the Kootenay to Kitimat Caravan.

The proposed legalization of cannabis to “stop the violence” involved in the drug trade appears on the surface to be a “motherhood apple pie solution,” which at first seems to be a good idea. There is however a whole raft of problems involved with this proposal.

Would it stop the violence if people were allowed to grow cannabis for their own use? Probably not. From police information, only approximate 15 per cent of cannabis is used domestically. The vast major is used in the cross border drug trade, which involves million of dollars.

Also, there is the health concern of second hand smoke, where the majority of society does not want smoking of anything in public. In addition, along with the adverse public health effects, there is concern about the cost to the already overburden health care system. Then there is the matter of impaired driving which is an ongoing problem already with alcohol and street drug abuse.

While I support decriminalization of cannabis in principle, I look forward to the debate on this topic at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in late September.

The other issue involves the majority of council voting on behalf of the City of Nelson to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. While Nelson is a long ways from the project, the apprehension for the well being of the environment is a universal issue.

With two recent oil pipeline ruptures in Alberta, along with the Enbridge oil pipeline rupture in Michigan, the unease is real. From The Province newspaper: “The US National Transportation Safety Board issued a report Tuesday into a July 2010 spill that saw more than three million litres of crude oil spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River and nearby wetlands. The board concluded Enbridge failed to fix a defect discovered five years earlier and then responded poorly when the spill occurred.”  Therefore it seems to be sensible and prudent to oppose this project if we wish to protect the environment in BC.

There are many questions about this whole project, such as why there is a plan to send crude “diluted bitumen” oil in a pipeline to the coast and increase oil tanker traffic when it could be, with new technologies, refined in Alberta and/or Saskatchewan providing hundreds of Canadian jobs.

We still need to refine oil for gasoline, unless more people start using synthetic oil in their vehicles, which is another viable solution.  Synthetic oil is a lubricant consisting of chemical compounds that are artificially made (synthesized). Synthetic lubricants can be manufactured using chemically modified petroleum components rather than whole crude oil, but can also be synthesized from other raw materials.

So the continued reliability on crude oil is something that needs further study if we wish to have a cleaner planet never mind piping it across pristine wilderness to the coast of BC.

All municipal councils are sometimes criticized for getting involved in global issues. Nevertheless anything that affects our environment, along with health and safety, is a real concern for everyone no matter where they live.

Robin Cherbo is a Nelson city councillor who shares Wednesday this space with his colleagues around the table.

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