By Alison Taylor
Despite a groundswell of support from municipalities to reverse
provincial legislation on independent power projects, the government is holding
At the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities
convention in Victoria last week, an overwhelming majority of voting delegates
offered support to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and its efforts to
have Bill 30 repealed.
That Bill, an amendment to the Utilities Commission Act,
abolishes local zoning authority over independent power projects on Crown land
and effectively removes local government from the decision-making process.
Of the nearly 900 delegates at the UBCM, only two voted in
“We were extremely pleased with that and felt that it spoke
loudly to the minister and the province as to how broad the support was,” SLRD
Chair John Turner said this week.
He said the vote shows the issue is not a local flashpoint in the
Sea to Sky corridor but resonates throughout the province.
And yet, the vote did nothing to sway the provincial government
on the issue.
The ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources confirmed
this week that the province will not be repealing those controversial sections
of Bill 30.
That, said Mayor Ken Melamed, was the anticipated response by
“Even though the debate about Bill 30 was probably one of the more major issues that was in the (UBCM) resolutions and up for debate, there seemed to be a sense of resignation to the outcome,” said the mayor, who also spoke in favour of the SLRD’s motion.
“… Everybody kind of knew that there was very little chance that the province was going to respond positively to the resolution.”
But that doesn’t mean the fight is over, with the SLRD leading the charge.
Turner said they will be following up in two ways. They will ask the UBCM to lobby the government and pursue the resolution, despite the reluctance at the province to change it.
And, they intend to write to Energy Minister Richard Neufeld highlighting the overwhelming endorsement by the UBCM and asking him to consider working with them in drafting a strategic plan for energy development.
The issue is particularly sensitive in the Sea to Sky corridor, which has 60 water licenses on local streams for run of river energy projects.