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From Hansard: Rural B.C. leads the way in environmental innovation

MLA Dan Davies speaks to environmental initiatives in rural B.C. ahead of Earth Day
Earth Day 2020
Earth Day 2021 is coming up this week. Getty Images

The following is an exchange in the Legislature April 19 from Peace River North MLA Dan Davies speaking to a motion recognizing Earth Day.


"On Thursday, April 22, British Columbians will join fellow Canadian provinces and countries across the world in recognizing Earth Day. This year's theme is to restore our Earth, which focuses on the natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world's ecosystems.

"The theme rejects the idea that mitigation or adaptation are the only ways to address climate change. Instead, it affirms that it is up to each and every one of us to restore Earth, not just because we care about the natural world, but because we live within it. We all need a healthy Earth to support our jobs, our livelihoods, health, survival and happiness. A healthy planet is not an option; it is a must.

"As members of this House know, I represent the constituency of Peace River North, which is home to the energy capital, Fort St. John. Fort St. John, in the Peace region, is known for thriving economic development in the natural gas sector. However, the Peace region has a lot more going on than just that. We are also known for our other industries, such as forestry, agriculture, mining and tourism. Its natural resources have allowed our economic growth within our beautiful region, and it's also our lifeblood.

"A lot of rural British Columbians, especially my constituents and the residents of Fort St. John, are often viewed as anti-environmentalist because our economies depend heavily on the natural resources. This perception and stigmatization of natural resource-based jobs and communities is completely inaccurate. Much of the natural resource development that takes place in our region goes toward green initiatives such as electric cars, greener transportation options and more eco-friendly residential and commercial developments. Rural businesses and organizations are constantly looking for new ways, new innovative technologies, to create greener industries and a greener economy for British Columbia. In fact, we lead the way.

"Earth Day has always been a significant day for me and my community, and we commemorate it every year. On a personal note, this date is also my wedding anniversary. On this Earth Day, I'll be celebrating 15 years with my wife, Erin. Every Earth Day, rural communities have a conversation about environment and remind ourselves that energy conservation is the best thing that we can do.

"In fact, the city of Fort St. John was key in building one of the farthest-north passive houses in the world. At the time of completion of the house, it was "only the third certified single-family passive house in Canada. Over the past several years, the city of Fort St. John has made it a priority to conserve water and energy and ultimately reduce both costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The city has also adopted a community-wide GHG reduction target of 12 percent below 2007 levels by 2030 and continues to maintain a carbon-neutral status in its corporate operations.

"This is rural community leadership. But we, as individuals, can all do better. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Reduce water waste. Car-pool when able. These are all small ways that we can all reduce our environmental footprint.

"This year the communities in Peace River North will continue to engage in meaningful conversations on Earth Day. Government, as well as all of us, must fight to end this false narrative that rural British Columbians do not care about the environment. B.C. is a global leader in pursuing cleaner resource extraction and renewable energy alternatives, but we need to continue the work. With our growing population, B.C. needs to find fast and innovative ways to expand renewable energy. I encourage all members to support these initiatives in their communities.

"In fact, I will take a quick opportunity to remind the members of this House that it was the previous B.C. Liberal government that began the Site C project, which would provide a clean source of reliable power for the next 100 years. This dam was designed to be a renewable energy source, and when it was proposed, its estimated cost would have been $8 billion. Unfortunately, as a result of mismanagement, delays and certain stakeholders playing politics with the project, the construction of Site C is now an estimated $16 billion and, regrettably, will not be completed until 2025.

"Nevertheless, it is clear, by overwhelming support of the initial Site C project, that rural British Columbians deeply care about sustainable sources. Together, I truly believe that we can achieve a balance between protecting resource-based jobs and environmental protection through cooperation, reducing the stigmatization, as well as mutual respect."


Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.