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Last week, I attended the Building Sustainable Communities Conference in Kelowna, attended by many municipal politicians and staff from across B.C. There Whistler is recognized as a leader in sustainability. Whistler has made many gains through its work to date on sustainability (the Whistler 2020 vision, solid partnerships, solar hot water at Meadow Park, employee housing, the compost facility, the ReBuild It Centre and LEED buildings to name a few) that have garnered the respect and are envy of other communities wanting to follow this path.
When it is more important than ever to be furthering sustainability issues (which include economic concerns as well as social and environmental), this is the time to strengthen our commitment to sustainability systems and improve them, rather than diminishing them.
Can the Whistler 2020 process be improved? Certainly. Is there still a way to go? Of course. Should the process be transparent and accountable? Naturally.
However, throughout the OCP process I heard Whistler's citizens asking for enhancements to our community's sustainability. I hope that Whistler council will heed that input and affirm their commitment to both the Whistler 2020 vision and the Centre for Sustainability.
No more 'loaner' pandas, please
Last week, I received another pamphlet from our local MP, John Weston, praising the Harper Conservative's delivery of clean air, water and energy to all Canadian families. Is this a joke? It's not even April Fool's Day yet.
When I think of Canada's environment, the Tories come to mind, but none of it positive. Instead, I'm reminded of the Tories' failed environmental policies like withdrawing Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, slashing hundreds of jobs at Environment Canada, muzzling scientists who come up with opposing viewpoints, claiming that the tar sands are "clean" and discrediting the public review process, such as the Northern Gateway pipeline review.
The Tories also advocated for using pristine lakes as private garbage dumps, by allowing mining companies to use a loophole in the Fisheries Act called "Schedule 2" to destroy clean watersheds, like Fish Lake near Williams Lake. The list goes on.
Prime Minister Harper has signaled that the next federal budget will come with severe cuts to areas like environmental monitoring, fisheries and green energy initiatives, with plans to short-circuit Canada's environmental review for projects like the Enbridge pipeline, intended to speed up project approval and drastically limit public participation.
Instead of this rapid race to the bottom, please reinstate Canada's strong federal environmental laws to protect the air, water and land we need to be healthy, and make us global leaders not laggards in the environmental sphere. And please, no more "loaner" pandas or taxpayer-funded propaganda.