I’m really excited to share with you a website I designed for Dogwood Initiative, which launched this week. Fair Share BC asks a simple but vital question: What’s a fair share of economic benefits for BC of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline? Whether you’re against the proposed pipeline — as are about three quarters of British Columbians — or for it, or agnostic/undecided, we’d like to hear your opinion.
Understanding that many of us would never put a price on our coast, the main purpose of the site is two-fold: to enable the people to decide what a fair share looks like, and to help conversations happen between folks with different view points. (Maybe Uncle Bob wants more permanent jobs for BC, but thinks we’d get a lot more than we would in reality?) I’d consider myself well-informed, and was surprised by the actual numbers.
Prime Minister Harper’s decision on the Northern Gateway project is anticipated soon. If he gives it the green light, it’s then up to Christy Clark to stand up for BC. But her “fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits” condition in the pipeline’s way is vague — what’s fair by her standards? Dogwood Initiative will collect the public’s Fair Share BC quiz answers (totalling over 2,000) to put some hard, public-powered numbers behind that. I want to make it clear that thinking about what a fair share looks like doesn’t mean we can be bought if we got what we asked for — the reality is that we won’t, so this is an exercise in making it clear that Christy Clark’s fifth condition cannot be met.
I worked closely with Kai Nagata, Energy and Democracy Director. Dogwood Initiative’s Karl Hardin and Joshua W provided technical heavy lifting for which I am grateful.
Additional ways to take action
Join over 16,000 people to send a message to the “Enbridge 21” — BC’s Conservative MPs who stand to lose a lot if the federal government approves the project. Encourage them to support BC instead of Enbridge.
Every summer I swim in the waters of Burrard Inlet and English Bay. My favourite spot is Cates Park (Whey-ah-Wichen, Faces the Wind), which is nearly opposite a Chevron oil refinery that is responsible for a slow leak discovered a year ago. This refinery is east of the Second Narrows bridge which, as the name suggests, spans a narrow crossing — and it’s a shallow one as well. The number, size and capacity of oil tankers passing through here is growing, with no decline in sight as our thirst for oil continues to increase. This worries me because it leaves us ever more vulnerable to a spill that would ruin a coastline inhabited by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation long before this place had a name, and enjoyed by Metro Vancouver residents and tourists alike. The beaches and waters are home to starfish, crabs, jellyfish, geoducks and many varieties of birds. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some other fish, a seal or even a whale. Eagles are frequent visitors.
We can’t afford an oil spill in Burrard Inlet, nor can we afford one anywhere along our beautiful coast. The consequences of the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska are still felt there. A spill of that magnitude hasn’t yet happened to us — neither in BC nor in the Saint Lawrence — and on Monday, May 2 we have the opportunity to uphold the decision the Liberals made in 1972 by voting for candidates who support this ban.
I hope my lack of writing lately is a sign of a good social life rather than exhaustion. Here is finally my experience at the recent slow food cycle.
The gems are often tucked away at the end of a road. Like last year’s treasures in Pemberton, the most wonderful spots in Agassiz’s slow food cycle route lay a ways down a road or off a nondescript path you only just had to trust would lead somewhere.
At one end of the self-guided, circuitous route through Agassiz’s sprawling farmland and country houses was a paradise I could not have expected. The Back Porch seemed to suggest with its name a rustic and romantic place. Greeted by dozens of bikes, we found ourselves on a farm that could have been transplanted from the artsy, organic culture of BC’s Gulf Islands. A pottery studio and coffee grinding shop occupied the first outbuilding, a unique combination that was at once odd and harmonious. Antique coffee grinders (ca. 1919) sat among vintage graphic design pieces which tickled my design nerd fancy!
Last Monday’s anti-Gateway demonstration in Surrey; I’m in there somewhere! Photo from GatewaySucks.org
Stephen Rees’s blog has been bursting with exciting news lately, nearly every single post. When I say exciting, I don’t necessarily mean good, but the headlines do indicate multiple turning points in a potentially positive direction in what has so far been a steadfast plot on the part of our provincial and even federal government to proceed with Gateway.* At a time when gas prices have begun to increase once more, international shipping is declining, and peak oil is on the horizon, our provincial and federal governments are teaming up to build more roads and expand the port on the premise that it will create jobs. While I agree that creating jobs in British Columbia is of utmost importance, the economic benefits of redirecting funding toward building transit would more than double the number of jobs — and they would be local. That keeps BC money in BC. In fact, a study by the Canadian Urban Transit Association found that three times as many jobs are created in public transit as highways. Public transit encourages smart growth, reduces congestion and pollution (thereby making a grand step toward the Province’s 33% reduction in GHG goal), and has minimal environmental impacts.
Want to help steer the government away from highway jobs and construction to green jobs and transit, all across Canada? Here are some petitions and events happening right now:
“On January 27, our federal government will introduce a new budget and invest billions of your tax dollars on stimulating the Canadian economy. Let’s make sure that as much of the stimulus package as possible is green.” Send a message to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty asking the government to invest in green jobs and green infrastructure. (David Suzuki Foundation)
Read my letter. (Americans can use the Wilderness Society’s page to send a letter to Congress on the same issue.)