OCP could use some strengthening
While it is important to have an updated community plan, it is also important to have as strong a plan as possible.
The significant change in not only embedding the concepts of Whistler 2020 into the OCP, but also eliminating Whistler 2020 as an overarching document comes with the risk of diminishing the strength of Whistler's sustainability direction. I feel that this plan could be strengthened in several ways:
• The vision should include the concept of global sustainability, not just looking at our own backyard;
• The process to change bed unit levels should include an extensive community consultation process (section 18.104.22.168);
• Funding of municipal infrastructure should mainly take place through savings and continued input into the reserves instead of placing the burden on the next generation. This will be even more important in the future as climate change will reduce the predictability and stability of weather and thus the longevity of infrastructure and both costs and risks to the municipality (section 6.1 goal);
• The municipality would do well to consider adding other tools in addition to using Qualified Environmental Professionals hired by the proponent and also consider not granting permissions even if a QEP says it should proceed (section 7.1.1 text box);
• Strengthen the visions and the details of some sections, as some are far weaker than others (generally those without a plan or committee to support it);
• Significant feedback was provided by a focus group that met on Zero Waste, and this should be included. Of key importance is that the impacts of waste disposal should not just be measured "in our region" but in any region we are impacting.
The global focus on reducing single-use and hard-to-recycle plastics has resulted in the plastics industry increasing its lobbying for burning plastics rather than changing the types and ways they are used.
With this increased pressure to burn, it will be even more important to have clear policies against this. This policy direction was approved by council when it submitted feedback on the SLRD Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan and should be included in the OCP.
Finally, we need to add systems to support Whistler's work on sustainability to replace what is being lost in removing Whistler 2020 as the overarching plan. Several questions need to be answered: What is our definition of sustainability? What science basis are we using? How are we measuring it? How are we engaging the community (business and residents) on developing and implementing actions? How are new Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) staff members getting trained on it? How are RMOW staff implementing it into their work plans? How are we making changes based on feedback and indicators?
Ensuring that the robustness of Whistler 2020 is kept while updating and strengthening the OCP should be the goal.
The public hearing for the Whistler OCP is happening Tuesday, April 16 at 6 p.m. at the Maury Young Arts Centre. Comments are accepted in written form until 4 p.m. and citizens can speak to it in person at 6 p.m. I encourage everyone to take a close look (www.whistler.ca/sites/default/files/ocp-schedules/2019-03-14_Second_Reading_Version_Final_With_Council_Revisions.pdf) and submit their thoughts.
DO REVAMPED CRIMINAL DRIVING LAWS GO TOO FAR?
In the last edition of Pique is a story about the increase in impaired driving incidents. Staff Sgt. Paul Hayes suggests this is likely due to increased enforcement efforts. With this, it should be noted that there has been a recent revamping of our criminal driving laws.
Impaired driving laws in Canada are something of a canary-in-the-coal-mine in terms of testing the constitutional limits of our criminal laws; due to the many exceptions in those laws to the constitutional principles that protect us from abuse of police and government power.
For example, police do random road stops to check for sobriety contrary to our right against arbitrary detention; they demand we provide breath samples contrary to our right not to be forced to provide evidence against ourselves.
There are also many evidentiary shortcuts that can be used in impaired driving prosecutions that are not ordinarily allowed in criminal proceedings.
Through various constitutional challenges, Parliament has had to revise and add procedural requirements to minimize the impact to citizens of the exceptional processes with the impaired driving laws. Despite this, Parliament continues to add more evidentiary shortcuts, thereby eliminating specific defenses to these charges.
Recently, the government brought in sweeping changes to all impaired driving laws when they introduced the cannabis laws, which include further provisions to make it easier to prosecute and convict impaired drivers.
One would expect people to see these changes as laudable, however, there is a concern of whether these changes go too far. Our criminal justice system has always been based on the principle of innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is an affront to this fundamental principle that someone should have the burden of proving their innocence.
The most concerning change is that the offence no longer requires proof of being "over .08" at the time of driving. Now, the Crown need only prove that, within two hours of ceasing to operate a vehicle, a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds .08.
Thus, a person who had not driven for nearly two hours can be arrested and required to go to the police station to provide breath samples if an officer has the grounds to believe that, when they drove, they were impaired.
They can then be charged and convicted if their BAC is greater than .08. To defend oneself, this person must provide evidence to establish they: did consume alcohol after driving; they did not do so with the expectation they would be required to provide a breath sample; and would have blown under .08 had they been tested at the time of driving.
No doubt, this newly worded offence was drafted this way to prevent people from avoiding a conviction by raising the possibility of drinking after driving. Unfortunately, this puts the onus on the defendant to establish that they did not deliberately drink after driving to avoid a conviction, which seems akin to reversing the burden of proof.
Imagine: You have one beer at a pub after work and drive home. A person sees you exit the pub and drive away, and reports your licence plate to police, who cannot attend to the call for an hour. They attend your residence, where you have been eating dinner and consuming some wine. The officer asks you if you drove the vehicle home from the pub and you say, "yes." The officer smells alcohol on your breath and demands that you accompany him/her to the police station where you provide breath samples. If you are not over .08, you have only had an embarrassing and upsetting experience. If you are over .08, you will be charged and must provide evidence to refute the presumption your BAC was over .08 at the time you drove, or be convicted.
There are other significant procedural changes plus increased penalties based on the level of BAC, longer maximum sentences, and double the former minimum penalty for refusing or failing to provide a breath sample (now $2,000).
With increased penalties, it should be that much more incumbent on our legislators to ensure the laws they created do not unduly offend our Constitutional rights. Society has an important goal of preventing people from causing unnecessary carnage on our roads, but we must also balance that against giving the state too much power; especially if it comes to arresting us from our own homes. Time will tell if our courts agree with Parliament.
Paddlers grateful for grants
As the 2019 paddling season gets underway, the Pemberton Canoe Association would like to acknowledge the generous donations made to the club last season.
The club was able to purchase two used 10-person dragon boats through grants from the Pemberton Valley Utilities & Services (PVUS) committee and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
This grant money was also used to help purchase other equipment for the club, including paddles and a new sprint boat. PVUS also provided a grant to help subsidize the club's winter dryland training program at the Pemberton and District Community Centre.
We greatly appreciate the continued support of these two local government groups towards the growth of our programs.
As well, the club would also like to thank Timothy Thompson and TKT Contracting for their donation, which enabled the purchase of a new sprint boat for the club.
British Columbia needs to get serious about its emissions
Amidst the worldwide student-led climate protest last month in more than 50 countries, including several cities in British Columbia, the news media acknowledged the dire situation that our world is in is because of the actions of fossil fuel companies.
For British Columbia's part, Premier Horgan has made British Columbia's inability to meet the BC NDP/Green Confidence and Supply agreement climate targets a mathematical certainty.
The proof of the above statement is derived from the following two annual B.C. CO2 emissions figures, that, when added together, make it impossible for British Columbia to achieve its climate targets.
Clean Energy B.C.'s, Electrification of British Columbia white paper predicts that LNG Canada, when at Phase 2, will produce 18.5 megatons of annual CO2 emissions in this province. Furthermore, the 2016 British Columbia Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory (released in December last year) states that vehicles in British Columbia have produced 17.3 megatons of annual CO2. That figure will most likely rise between March 15, 2019 and January 1, 2030, due to the projected increase in B.C.'s population between now and then, and the lack of aggressiveness in the BC NDP provincial government's zero emissions vehicle program.
The combined total of LNG Canada's 18.5 megatons of annual B.C. CO2 emissions and B.C.'s 17.3 megatons of annual vehicle CO2 emissions, at a total of 35.8 megatons of CO2 emissions, makes it impossible for the provincial government to make its BC NDP/Green Confidence and Supply agreement climate target: A reduction of 40 per cent from 2007 CO2 levels (64.7 megatons) down to 38.8 megatons of annual B.C. CO2 emissions by 2030.
The only question that remains between a just transition to a sustainable economy in British Columbia and the inability of the BC NDP provincial government to meet its NDP-Green confidence and supply agreement climate targets is whether Horgan will stop the building of LNG Canada that will enable British Columbia to meet those targets.
If he doesn't, B.C. voters should seriously consider a recall of their MLAs and vote in a candidate that will take the proper steps to enable British Columbia to meet its climate targets.