Making a Change
A report on the June 23, 2006 public meeting hosted by the Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition, at Mount Royal College in Calgary
How do you effect change in the political process that shapes the world around us? That was the focus of the discussion following The Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition’s presentation of how logging will affect the Kananaskis wilderness. It appears our campaign to raise awareness of this issue has succeeded. People were well informed and now they want to know what they can do to stop it.
Harry Chase, Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly and critic for Parks and Protected Areas and Barry Erskine, Calgary Alderman for Ward 11, brought their insight into what works and what doesn’t. As we suspected, petitions are of little use and a heartfelt expression of concern is. So you need to write to the ministers responsible and your MLA as they judge their response based on the depth of the pile of letters received. Form letters from 100 people are judged as one. Please use the contacts listed below and on our Act Now! Page to help us make a change. You have until this Friday, June 23rd, 2006 to get a letter in the mail or out on e-mail. Do it now or your next opportunity will be in 10 years from now, when Spray Lakes is required to revise their Detailed Forest Management Plan.
Ralph Cartar, president of the BCEC, made many points most of which you can read elsewhere on this web site, but the one that struck me was the plan to cut the low valleys and rolling hills of the eastern slope of the Rockies; along the eastern boundary of Kananaskis, as that is where the trees are and where it is easiest to get at them. It just so happens that those are the two reasons the area is so valuable for visitors.
Harry said four percent of Alberta’s land mass is “protected” by Alberta, eight percent is protected by the federal government. Uh-oh, I shouldn’t say this, but thank Ottawa. He suggested we picket the McDougall Centre. He expressed real concern for the wilderness citing years of experience in the outdoor industry near Cataract Creek. The Liberals have identified the environment and land use as a priority issue and they feel that Albertans' concern over preservation of their natural heritage is not recognized by the current government.
Barry said the City of Calgary, although invited to hear what Spray Lakes had planned, was not consulted in any discussion of what to consider in the plan or how to mitigate the effects of their logging. The city is asking the province for more time and more meaningful negotiations on the proposals. He said more trees are cut in Alberta than in B.C. by percentage of forested land. Trees are parents. When they fall they provide the opportunity for offspring to grow. Trees are a biological filter. Current city budgeting calls for a $5-million expenditure on new filtration to remove contaminants, nutrients and sediments from the water source. Costs could skyrocket if the logging proceeds. He said, “The fuse is lit, the firecracker is about to explode”.
There may be an opportunity to launch a legal challenge according to Bragg Creek lawyer Clint Docken. He cited the Bar-C Ranch case last year, where logging was stopped due to lack of consultation. The BCEC has a letter from the Deputy Minister for Sustainable Resources, sent during the first-pass logging done in the late 1980s (See the satellite image of those clear-cuts). They promised a full and thorough consultation before they came back to take the rest. The BCEC feel they haven't honoured that committment.
There was some discussion of the consultation topic. As the sole representative of Bragg Creek to participate in the Spray Lakes consultation, I can say that they didn’t so much consult, as inform. They have a long list of “consultations” undertaken. But these were done hurriedly, often with school children, and in most cases were statements of what they planned to do and how.
On a personal note, you may wonder who's paying me to cover this issue - well no one. You could help by visitng the Bragg Creek Store where clothing and outdoor accessories enblazoned with my Kananaskis crest are available for purchase.
The deadline has passed to have letters included with the filing of the Spray Lakes Detailed Forest Management Plan, but you can still send your concerns to the politicians.