Some comments on the Flute land swap, and the proposed ski lifts. I am concerned about the apparent lack of process, procedure and communication.
I have worked on the permitting of a number of power plants throughout Canada. Most of these plants had a relatively benign impact, and one of them actually reduced carbon dioxide emissions in the region by up to 1 million tons per year. But for any power plant, however environment-friendly, there is a well-established permitting process in each province.
The permitting process ensures that the facility meets specific federal or provincial limits, such as those related to air emissions, noise etc. It also addresses land use, socio-economic and environmental impact issues. But all of the provinces, and in particular Alberta, put enormous and growing emphasis on the public information process, and require that the developer meets with those living close to the proposed facility, listens to their concerns and attempts to mitigate them.
In Alberta the provincial authorities will not even establish the terms of reference for an Environmental Impact Study until the ministry is satisfied that a comprehensive public information process has been established, and communication has started.
When a permit is received many owners establish an ongoing liaison committee to provide communication between the plant owners/operators and the community. Owners generally welcome such liaison committees because they provide effective communications and help maintain good relations.
Most developers, in my experience, dont resent the permitting process. It is a necessary step in obtaining public and local acceptance of the proposed facility. It has been the way we have all operated for over 30 years.
I havent been a full time resident of Whistler for long, but I have been amazed by the apparent lack of process in the recent Flute land swap. Does the B.C. Department of the Environment not require any basic environmental studies for work done in the fragile alpine area? Or does the proponent not have to satisfy the ministry, through a screening process, that no such EIA is required? Is there no public information process, no requirement that Intrawest meet and listen to local concerns? Is there no permanent liaison group?
Seems amazing for the year 2002.
Our Provincial Parks are the legacy of decades of effort by British Columbians working together to create a network of unspoiled natural areas. Our Park system is there to preserve natural values and ecosystems and provide us and our visitors with the opportunity to reconnect with the natural world in Super Natural B.C. It is a sustainable legacy which will become much more valuable and precious as the years go by. We are proud of and protective of this outstanding treasure which belongs to the citizens of British Columbia.