The provincial government’s new Park Amendment Act means B.C.’s beloved provincial parks are under threat of increased industrial development, according to critics.
“Our parks are in some serious trouble as a result of this new legislation, so today we stand up for them,” said Wilderness Committee national campaign director Joe Foy on Saturday, Canada Parks Day.
Foy and volunteers were at Bridal Veil Falls Park Saturday as part of provincewide rallies to demand the Park Amendment Act be repealed.
“Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan already has a permit to conduct research in Bridal Veil Falls Park, and it’s just one of five protected areas that are threatened by the company’s proposed tar sands pipeline,” Foy said in a press release. “Rather than clearing the path for pipelines and other industrial projects, our provincial government should be stepping up to expand and improve the world-class park system that British Columbians have worked so hard to establish.”
And while it is true Kinder Morgan has a permit to conduct research in the park, the Trans Mountain pipeline was built in 1953 and Bridal Veil Falls Park was only established in February 1965.
The route of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is indeed underneath a corner of the park, which is where the current pipeline already runs.
In response to the rallies across the province, Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness, who has Bridal Veil Falls and Sasquatch Provincial Park in his riding, said “there is no one more committed to BC Parks than the present government.”
Throness told the Times 84 new parks have been added along with 156 new conservancies, ecological reserves and 11 new protected areas.
Throness said the amount of land being removed from parks is minimal and, for the sake of the economy, it can make sense.
“Sometimes it makes sense to make a small change to a park boundary to facilitate industrial activity, if there is a strong economic rationale and the environmental impact can be minimized,” he said. “For instance, this year we added 55,000 hectares to B.C. parks, but removed just 27 hectares for private purposes. This is all part of getting the balance right between developing our economy and preserving our park system, which is already one of the largest in North America.”
The Wilderness Committee said more than 167,000 people have signed a petition asking the provincial government to repeal the legislation.