Focus Victoria – New government will review “professional reliance.” The practice may have played a leading role in creating some of BC’s most high-profile environmental blunders.
By Briony Penn.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, as a reporter for CHUM TV (aka The New VI), I got a call from a professional wildlife biologist in Port Alberni called Mike Stini. He’s an Island guy to the core—understated, drives a pickup, knows the bush like the back of his hand and, more than anything, loves this place and isn’t afraid to share his knowledge. He was clearly upset.
The BC Liberals had changed all the rules on forest management, and suddenly wildlife experts like him, who were hired by government prior to harvest plans to identify the old growth where elk and deer overwintered, or find and map the bear dens and the goshawk nests, were being shoved out the door. His concern wasn’t about losing the work; he could always go back full-time to taxidermy. It was about what was going to happen to his habitat on McLaughlin Ridge, the forested mountains that were about to be levelled by industry
….Stini forecast that all the places that we visited would be logged under the new system. In 2015, I revisited those sites and he was right—everything was levelled, from the bear den to the winter range. Even worse, under the current designation of working forest, there is no chance the forest can even recover. …The government extended the practice of relying on resource extractors’ own professionals to evaluate the environmental aspects of mining and other projects
…. Mark Haddock, a UVic lawyer with the Environmental Law Centre who did a lengthy 2015 analysis of the failures of the professional reliance “experiment,” says it is a grey term and has multiple interpretations that can easily mislead.
…British Columbians are not unfamiliar with how deregulation, with a loosening of standards around conflict of interest, can spiral into corporate white-collar crime.
The Mount Polley disaster is a case in point of how badly it can go wrong with no third party oversight. The fact that the company, Imperial Metals, can continue to operate with no penalties, after destroying a lake for generations, clearly pushes citizens to the edge. Citizen groups are pursuing private prosecutions, and Premier Horgan has now committed to determine why a deadline was missed by the BC Liberals to lay charges against the company.
…Full article: http://www.focusonvictoria.ca/septoct-2017/new-government-will-review-professional-reliance-r11/