Response to Minister of Environment’s cancellation of Cobble Hill Holdings Permit
February 23, 2017 For immediate release
VICTORIA B.C. — After years of community members fighting their government over the safety of their drinking water, the B.C. Minister of Environment has cancelled the waste discharge permit for Cobble Hill Holdings, effective immediately.
“I’m glad the Minister has finally pulled the permit, but it’s unfortunate that it took this long. It is egregious that the people of Shawnigan had to take their government to court simply to receive representation,” Andrew Weaver said, Leader of the B.C. Green Party.
Weaver first visited the site with community members and Shawnigan Lake Area Director, Sonia Furstenau, on April 2nd, 2015. During that time Weaver collected water samples which were tested for contamination at the University of Victoria. His initial analysis of the case can be found in a report posted to his website on April 18th, 2015.
Furstenau, B.C. Greens candidate for Cowichan Valley and Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party, added, “While I’m thrilled for the residents of Shawnigan that the Minister has done the right thing and cancelled the permit, I remain committed to holding the government to account to ensure the contaminated soil is cleaned up safely. The residents of Shawnigan should be proud of what we accomplished today, but they deserved to see action from their government much sooner.”
Weaver continued, “Sonia Furstenau has shown outstanding leadership on holding the government to account over their dereliction of duty on this file. I’m incredibly proud to have her on the B.C. Greens team. This kind of principled representation is what communities across B.C. deserve and can expect from the B.C. Greens.
“The situation that has unfolded in Shawnigan shows why the government’s professional reliance model is completely inadequate for environmental protection and community safety. Instead of drawing on the technical expertise of the civil service who serve the public interest, the government cut these experts and now relies instead on the judgement of experts hired by corporations with vested interests.
“The Minister does not have a plan for how or even if the contaminated soil will be removed. Who is going to deal the contaminated soils now? Where is it going to go?”
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Mat Wright Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
MLA Andrew Weaver first visited the site with community members and Shawnigan Lake Area Director, Sonia Furstenau, on April 2nd, 2015. During that time Weaver collected water samples which were tested for contamination at the University of Victoria. His initial analysis of the case can be found in a report posted to his website on April 18th, 2015. Subsequent comment and analysis were published as the situation evolved.
Professional reliance model
In 2001, after the BC Liberals were elected to their first term, they began to cut the size of government. As a direct consequence of government downsizing, technical expertise within the civil service became a casualty. Instead of having technical expertise in house, the government moved towards wide scale use of Professional Reliance in the permitting process. Under the Professional Reliance approach, the Ministry relies on the judgment and expertise of qualified experts hired by a project proponent.
What is particularly important to note is that in March 2014, the Office of the British Columbia Ombudsperson released a scathing report criticizing the Professional Reliance model with respect to streamside protection and enhancement areas. The report, entitled The Challenges of Using a Professional Reliance in Environmental Protection – British Columbia’s Riparian Areas Regulation made 25 recommendations, 24 of which the government agreed to accept. But this acceptance came almost a year after the Ministry of Environment granted SIA their permit.
The government’s approach to follow the Professional Reliance model is fraught with difficulties. The role of the government is to protect the public interest. When government is making decisions solely based on a project proponent’s expert opinion, it is very troubling. Imagine a judge in a court of law only listening to the expert opinion on one side of a case (plaintiff or defendant) and not allowing expert opinion to be submitted from the opposing side.
It is clear that British Columbians are concerned about oil pipelines and have lost confidence in the federal review process. The problem is, the tools we have to make our voices heard are too restrictive. If enacted, this bill would give British Columbians a stronger voice on how oil pipeline proposals are evaluated in the province.
Last October the residents of Bella Bella saw first hand how unprepared we are for an oil spill. It’s clear from the federal hearings I participates in on the Trans Mountain pipeline that these concerns aren’t being adequately addressed. In addition, no specifics have been outlined as to how recently announced federal funding will be used to prepare for a heavy oil spill.
My bill would make it easier for British Columbians to require their provincial government to hold a made-in-B.C. hearing process on oil pipelines.
Introductory Remarks on the Bill
A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled the Recall and Initiative Amendment Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.
A. Weaver: It gives me great pleasure to introduce this bill, which is designed to empower British Columbians so that their voices can be more effectively heard on environmental reviews of major projects such as oil pipelines.
If we are to re-engage British Columbians in our democracy, we need to actively seek their view on far more of what we debate in this Legislature. We also need to provide them with additional tools to hold their government to account. The Recall and Initiative Amendment Act is one such tool. British Columbians have lost faith in the federal review process, particularly as it pertains to oil pipeline proposals. The province has not listened to their voices.
This bill would offer British Columbians an opportunity to ensure that their voices are indeed heard. If an initiative were to pass under the proposed changes in the Recall and Initiative Amendment Act, it would require government to pull out of an existing environmental equivalency agreement for a particular project and hold its own made-in-B.C. review of, for example, a proposed heavy-oil pipeline.
I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House.
Bill M219, Recall and Initiative Amendment Act, 2017, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Today in the legislature I reintroduced my private member’s bill now titled Rideshare Enabling Act, 2017. This bill is intended to continue the important public dialogue about the rules we need to make ridesharing a reality for British Columbia.
Provinces and cities across Canada and throughout North America have been using ridesharing technology for years. But BC struggles to articulate a vision for promoting innovation in the tech sector. In fact, 22 CEOs and founders from Vancouver’s tech industry wrote an open letter last year to the BC government stating “we are compelled to express our concern regarding the provincial government’s long-standing inaction on ridesharing regulation in B.C. and how we now find ourselves falling behind the rest of the world.”
British Columbians have only heard mixed things from the government on the topic of ridesharing. When the cabinet minister responsible for developing regulations for ridesharing services calls these emerging companies ‘pushy’, it doesn’t set the right tone.”
In my view, it’s time the conversation was more transparent and engaged British Columbians about what they want to see happen with these innovative new services. There are numerous voices calling for this government to truly support the emerging tech sector. For some reason, they are having a hard time being heard by this government.
Below are the video and text of the introduction of my bill together with our accompanying media release.
Video of Introduction
Text of Introduction
A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled Rideshare Enabling Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.
A. Weaver: I’m very pleased to be introducing a bill intituled the Rideshare Enabling Act, 2017. Ride-sharing is part of the new creative economy happening in B.C. Various programs exist around the world that use ride-share technology, and other jurisdictions have brought in legislation to address the application of this technology in our society. B.C., however, is falling quickly behind. Vancouver is now the largest city in North America without an operating ride-share company, like Lyft, for example, or Uber.
Legislation is needed to provide provincial standards that must be followed for any ride-sharing program to exist in our province. This bill is intended to continue that conversation.
I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Bill M206, Rideshare Enabling Act, 2017, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
February 16th, 2017 For immediate release Weaver Introduces Rideshare Enabling Legislation
VICTORIA B.C. – The Rideshare Enabling Act was introduced today in the BC Legislature by Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
“The sharing economy exists and it’s going to get bigger,” says Weaver. “Rideshare technology is a part of that new economy and we need to create rules so that these industries don’t operate in a vacuum.”
“The B.C. Liberals are trying to rebrand themselves as champions of new technology after their colossal LNG failure, but they can’t be taken seriously on this file. They are already so far behind and continue to be barriers to innovation.”
Ridesharing, a driver using their personal vehicle to accept a trip request from a rider using mobile technology, is an international phenomenon with dozens of technology companies participating. Governments around the world and across Canada have embraced ridesharing to increase transportation options, encourage less personal car ownership, reduce impaired driving, create more income opportunities, and facilitate more efficient transportation. To date, over 70 states and cities across the United States and many more around the world have adopted ridesharing regulations.
Weaver introduced his private member’s bill with the intention of starting a conversation about what legislation would best meet the needs of British Columbians. This process needs to involve intensive consultation with municipal governments, the BC Taxi Association, and British Columbians across the province.
“Public safety must be a priority as we move forward with ridesharing in this province and to do so we need to legislate certain common standards. We need to ensure that anyone participating as a driver in rideshare technology doesn’t have a criminal record or history of reckless driving. Refusing to discuss the issue is not helping.”
“I’m hopeful the government takes a look at the bill I brought forward and realizes that they need to address this situation. They cannot continue to keep their heads in the sand. We need smart regulations that don’t create an unfair market.”
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Mat Wright, Press Secretary
+1 250-216-3382 | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Friday, February 3rd, I spoke to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. In my presentation I offered a vision for a prosperous British Columbia that builds on our strengths, not the weaknesses of others.
For those wondering about the direction that a BC Green government would take this province, please consider watching.
Video of Presentation to Greater Vancouver Board of Trade
Statement on BC NDP climate action plan & B.C. Liberal response February 2nd, 2017 For immediate release
Vancouver, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, has released the following statement on the B.C. NDP climate action plan and the B.C. Liberal response. Weaver is in Vancouver today and available for interviews from 2:45 to 6:00pm.
“What we just saw today is the reason why I got into politics. Climate change is one of the biggest economic and social issues facing our province, and we need politicians from all parties working towards real solutions.
“Yet sadly we see the Liberals leaking a memo to try to undermine climate action and the NDP releasing a plan that is more of a communications exercise than substantive policy.
“Neither party are asking: What do we really need to do to address climate change and how do we get it done? The BC Liberals have largely abandoned their climate leadership under Christy Clark, while the NDP are only committing to do the bare minimum that is required by the federal government.
“Let’s be honest. The NDP plan is not a Made in BC solution. Their plan is based around federal measures that were designed to achieve targets that were set by Stephen Harper. I have worked in this field for 25 years. Their plan will not reduce carbon emissions if they also intend to support the LNG industry. The two simply do not go hand-in-hand.
“British Columbians can count on the BC Green Party to put forward an evidence based policy that will build on our unique strengths as a province, grow our economy and tackle climate change.”
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Mat Wright, Press Secretary
+1 250-216-3382 | email@example.com