(1) 250.472.8528
andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

Standing up for Resident Hunters over Foreign Trophy Hunters

Today in the legislature I introduced Bill M234 — Wildlife Amendment Act, 2017.

This bill combined two previous bills that I had introduced in the legislature. The BC Liberals did not wish to bring either of these to second reading. The first Bill was to designed to reduce the preferential treatment of non-resident hunters by eliminating the minister’s discretion to make separate rules for resident and foreign hunters when it comes to obtaining LEH permits. This bill requires all hunters to enter a lottery for their LEH tags, as is done in other jurisdictions.

The second Bill I had already introduced was designed to ensure that all edible portions of animals hunted in British Columbia are taken to the hunter’s domicile. In addition, the proposed changes remove grizzly bears from the list of animals exempt from meat harvesting regulations. These put in place a major logistical barrier to foreign trophy hunting.

Two new additions were included in the updated bill. I am grateful to the feedback I received on my earlier bills that led to these modifications. First, if passed this bill would require that edible portions be packed out prior to, or in conjuction with, any other body parts of the game carcass. This is consistent with the notion is that hunting is primarily for food and the the trophy should be viewed as a by-catch.

The second addition would disallow those convicted of fisheries or wildlife offences from becoming fishing or hunting guides in the province of British Columbia.

Below I reproduce the text and video on my introduction along with the accompanying press release .


Text of the Introduction


A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled Wildlife Amendment Act, 2017, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be read a first time now.

Motion approved.

A. Weaver: It gives me great pleasure to introduce this bill that, if enacted, would make a number of changes to the Wildlife Act.

This bill restricts the practices of non-resident trophy hunters who come to B.C. to kill large game by making three specific amendments to the Wildlife Act. The proposed changes remove grizzly bears from the list of animals exempt from meat harvesting regulations, ensures all edible portions of animals killed in B.C. are taken directly to a hunter’s residence, and requires the meat to be taken out first, before the hide or head.

This bill also stops government from letting non-resident hunters buy preferential access to limited-entry hunting permits and bans people convicted of fisheries or wildlife offences from becoming fishing or hunting guides in the province of British Columbia.

For local sustenance hunters, the vast majority of hunters in B.C. that is, this bill merely echoes what they are already doing — harvesting wild game to bring the meat home to feed their families. For non-resident trophy hunters coming to B.C. to hunt an animal only for its hide, skull or antler, this bill puts in place a significant logistical challenge.

Bill M234, Wildlife Amendment Act, 2017, introduced and read a first time.

A. Weaver: At this time, I move, pursuant to standing order 78a, that this bill be referred to the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills for immediate review.

Madame Speaker: I will point out that that’s a departure in practice.

All those in favour? Nay is heard. Division has been called.

A. Weaver: May I have this referred to second reading — a motion to do so?

Bill M234, Wildlife Amendment Act, ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.


Video of the Introduction



Media Release


Weaver tables Wildlife Amendment Act to Committee Stage – Liberals vote Nay
For immediate release
March 6th, 2017

VICTORIA B.C. – Today in the legislature MLA Andrew Weaver tabled the Wildlife Amendment Act directly to committee stage, leading to an immediate vote in the House. Weaver and the B.C. NDP voted in favour of moving the bill directly to committee stage for review. The B.C. Liberals voted against it.

“This bill works to ensure that sustainable, respectful sustenance hunting in British Columbia is grounded in a science-based conservation policy and that the interests of residents hunters are put ahead of foreign trophy hunters.

“It is clear these are values the B.C. Liberals do not share – as illustrated by their vote against further consulting on this bill today. But, I am glad to see that the B.C. NDP support my initiatives on this file,” says Weaver.

The bill would restrict the practices of non-resident trophy hunters who come to B.C. to hunt large game by making three specific amendments to the Wildlife Act. The proposed changes remove grizzly bears from the list of animals exempt from meat harvesting regulations, ensures all edible portions of animals killed in B.C. are taken directly to the hunter’s residence, and requires the meat to be taken out first – before the hide or head. For non-resident trophy hunters coming to B.C. to hunt an animal solely for its hide, skull, or antlers this puts in place a prohibitive logistical challenge.

The bill also stops the government from letting non-resident hunters buy preferential access to limited-entry-hunt permits. And lastly, it bans people convicted of fisheries or wildlife offenses in B.C. and other jurisdictions from becoming fishing or hunting guides.

– 30 –

Media contact
Mat Wright, Press Secretary
+1 250-216-3382 | mat.wright@leg.bc.ca


Introducing Right to Roam legislation in British Columbia

Today in the legislature I introduced a private member’s bill entitled Bill M223 — Right to Roam Act. This Bill reestablishes the rights of British Columbians to access public lands, rivers, streams, and lakes, and to use these spaces to fish, hike and enjoy outdoor recreation.

Increasingly, British Columbians are being fenced out of wild areas that have been enjoyed by the public for generations. One particularly high profile example involves public access to Minnie, Stoney and other lakes surrounded by Douglas Lake Ranch spread out over more than 500,000 acres. Approximately 365,000 acres are already crown land with full public access.  But concern over access to several lakes was raised when Stoney Lake Road was suddenly gated in the late 1970s and subsequently locked in the early 1980s.

Below I reproduce the text and video of the speech I gave as I introduced the bill. I also include the accompanying media release.


Text of my Introduction


A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled the Right to Roam Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.

Motion approved.

A. Weaver: I’m pleased to be introducing a bill intituled the Right to Roam Act, 2017.

The ability to access and experience nature is a right for all British Columbians, and we must protect it. This bill will re-establish the rights of British Columbians to access public lands, rivers, streams and lakes and to use these spaces to fish, hike and enjoy outdoor recreation.

Hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation are a pivotal part of British Columbia’s heritage and form an important part of the fabric of present-day life in British Columbia. They are also vital to the understanding, conservation and management of fish and wildlife in our province.

Increasingly, however, British Columbians are being fenced out of wild areas that have been enjoyed by the public for generations.

One particularly high profile example involved public access to Minnie, Stoney and other lakes surrounded by Douglas Lake Ranch, spread out over more than 500,000 acres. Public access was prevented when Stoney Lake Road was suddenly gated in the 1970s and subsequently locked in the 1980s. This bill, which is built on a combination of B.C.’s existing Hunting and Fishing Heritage Act and Nova Scotia’s Angling Act, aims to address and prevent such conflicts.

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 M223, Right to Roam 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.


Video of my Introduction



Media Release


Weaver introduces Right to Roam Act
For immediate release
February 27th, 2017

VICTORIA B.C. – Locked gates on back roads are increasingly restricting access to wild lands in the province, making it harder for outdoors people to go hunting, fishing or hiking. A new bill tabled Monday by Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party, would put a stop to that practice.

“British Columbians are increasingly being fenced out of the province’s wild lands. The ability to access and experience nature is a public right, and we must protect it,” says Weaver, who is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. “Free public access to the outdoors is vital to people’s health and well-being, but it is also vital to the health and well-being of our environment. People protect what they know and love. If we become disconnected from our environment we risk disengaging with the fight for its future.”

In many regions of the province, the only way to access wild Crown lands is via logging roads, public back roads, or across privately owned forests and uncultivated areas. While casual public use of these accessways has not been an issue in the past, there is a growing trend of neighbouring landowners and forestry companies locking people out. Some are building fences and installing locked gates to block access altogether, others are implementing strict schedules or access fees. In extreme cases, British Columbians are getting arrested for trespassing while walking to public lakes they have been fishing for generations.

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club, a non-profit association dedicated to the local preservation and management of habitat and wildlife, for example, has spent years in a legal battle with the owner of the Douglas Lake Ranch over the public right to fish in public lakes..

“The Right to Roam Act aims to address and prevent conflicts like the Douglas Lake Ranch case. Nature in British Columbia should be open to all, not to just the privileged few,” says Weaver.

This Act was built off the existing BC Hunting and Fishing Heritage Act and the Nova Scotia Angling Act. It includes a few additional amendments, made with reference to a UVic Environmental Law Clinic report about enhancing public access to wild lands.

“By allowing people to cross uncultivated wild land to access public lands, rivers, streams, and lakes, the Right to Roam Act aims to re-establish the rights of British Columbians and to use these spaces to fish, hike and enjoy outdoor recreation.”

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Media contact
Mat Wright, Press Secretary
+1 250-216-3382 | mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

Responding to government inaction on campsite booking system

Media Statement: July 5th, 2016
Weaver responds to government inaction on campsite booking system
For immediate release

Victoria B.C. – Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head, today responded to the provincial government’s encouragement of a campground booking system that excludes British Columbians from accessing public campgrounds and allows private for-profit companies to compete with B.C. families.
“In a new practice welcomed by the B.C. Liberals, B.C. residents are being told they have to pay more to compete with companies who book provincial campsites in bulk and resell them at double the price,” says Andrew Weaver.

“It seems like the B.C. government has lost sight of the public purpose of our parks and campgrounds. Our provincial campsites are not products to be sold, they belong to the people of B.C.

Government agencies have been entrusted by the public to manage our parks as a collective good so they can be preserved and maintained into the future. Instead they are managing them as if they were a nothing more than a commodity.

The public is the owner, not the customer, and the current system is excluding B.C. families from accessing their parks.

The reservation system should give British Columbians priority, either by allocating enough resident – specific sites to meet local demand or by staggering booking openings so British Columbians have first shot at reserving a spot.”

 
Media contact:
Mat Wright
Press Secretary – Andrew Weaver MLA
Cell: 250 216 3382
Mat.wright@leg.bc.ca
Twitter: @MatVic

Parliament Buildings
Room 027C
Victoria BC V8V 1X4

An Exciting Opportunity for Tourism & Economic Development in Rural BC

Valemount_BC_signThe community of Valemount is located on Southern Yellowhead Highway 5, twenty kilometres south of the intersection with Yellowhead Highway 16 that connects Prince George to Edmonton. With a population (including the surrounding area) of about 2000, Valemount, like so many other rural communities in BC, used to have a forestry-based economy. In the case of Valemount, it was the Slocan mill that was the engine of their local economy. But that mill shut down for good over a decade ago.

The people of Valemount and their elected Mayor and Council were resilient. Today Valemount has emerged as a tourism centre in northeastern British Columbia. And it’s about to get a whole lot more exciting.

Mt_RobsonValemount is a natural hub for ecotourism. It is a fully serviced community sitting next to Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park. It’s also located near the head of Kinbasket Lake, created when BC Hydro’s Mica Dam was built on the Canoe River. Canoe river is the northernmost tributary within the Columbia River drainage basin. McLennan river, one of the easternmost tributaries of the Fraser River also flows along the northern edge of Valemount.

_DSC7039 - CopyWhether it be skiing or snowshoeing in the winter or white water rafting, fishing, hiking or even golfing in the summer, Valemount has a diverse array of outdoor activities for the young and old. The town’s push to become an ecotourism hub even extends to the town’s high school, home to about 75 students. In 2012, the school became branded as a  “mountain school”. The school developed curriculum and learning resources and activities involving outdoor and environmental themes in an attempt to arrest declining enrollment in the area.

Over the last few months I became more and more intrigued about the proposed Valemount Glacier Destination year round ski and sightseeing resort.

On Friday last week, shortly before meeting to learn more from key executives in the Pheidias group, Valemount Glacier Destination’s project proponent, I also met with Gord Stewart, Senior Vice President, and Philip Hochstein, President, of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of BC (ICBA). As noted on their website:

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. services and represents B.C.’s construction sector. ICBA’s 1,100 members build in the multi-family residential and Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) construction sectors and are involved in virtually all major capital projects in British Columbia.

The purpose of my visit to the ICBA was to connect with Mr. Hochstein about his work with the ICBA and to learn more about the objectives and priorities of the ICBA and its member organizations. Our conversation centred around responsible resource development. The discussion was far reaching. I emphasized the need for bottom-up project development that starts with community involvement from day one, businesses internalizing externalities, and government clearly outlining and enforcing the regulatory environment and ensuring compliance with it. We both agreed that the construction industry recognizes that project development must be done responsibly. Mr. Hochstein’s challenge to me, a challenge that I accepted, was to define for him what “responsibly” means. I will be working on that in the weeks ahead.

This is an important challenge since in British Columbia, it seems like it is impossible for any resource project to move forward without meeting substantive resistance. In a forthcoming piece I will outline a number of key reasons why I perceive this to be the case as well as solutions as to how we might collectively move forward. The number one reason in my forthcoming post is this:

  1. Bottom up project development. Before a project can even get off the ground, local towns and First Nation communities must be treated as partners. After all, our natural resources are more often than not located in traditional First Nation territory and the back yards of our rural communities. Attempting to market a project to a community in a top-down fashion is bound to fail. On the other hand, if First Nations and local towns are supportive, they will become the strongest advocates for the projects.

So what has this got to do with Valemount Glacier Destination — absolutely everything. Some of you might have been following the controversy surrounding a proposed ski development at Jumbo Glacier. Not only was the nearby town of Invermere opposed to the project, but so were the Ktunaxa Nation who ended up in the Supreme Court. But in every failure is the birth of a new opportunity and that is what is playing out now in Valemount.

In a rare example of community-driven success, the genesis of the entire project was actually a phone call from a small citizen delegation authorized by the mayor and council of Valemount in 2011. The phone call was a simple request that Oberto Oberti, distinguished architect and president of the Pheidias Group, consider a proposal similar to what was proposed in the Jumbo Valley for the Valemount area. The Valemount delegation (which would go on to form the Valemount Ski Society), outlined how a project with good elevations (over 3000m), summer skiing on glaciers, as well as world-class year-round sight seeing could be achieved in the immediate area around Valemount, but better still, without the construction of significant new roads into remote valleys. In short, a world-class high alpine development could be achieved in the front country of the Robson Valley, in a busier highway, with a more exclusive existing market-base (Edmonton and Jasper) as opposed to the more competitive market base of Calgary, Banff and the Kootenays. A project in Valemount would also be located very close to, but not within the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mt. Robson Provincial, and Jasper National Parks. Oberto Oberti’s first action after receiving the phone call was to arrange a meeting with the Simpcw Nation. The resulting collaboration of local support has survived three changes in Mayor and Council at both the municipality of Valemount and the Simpcw First Nation and no organized opposition has yet to come forward against the project.

After some initial seed money to achieve a Master Development Agreement, a small group of Vancouver based investors who founded Valemount Glacier Destinations Ltd. was joined by Greg Marchant and Hunter Milborne of a larger Toronto investment community. As such, a very rare kind of project has emerged in which a small town joined forces with the local First Nation, solicited expertise from Vancouver, and will build Phase One entirely with no real estate pre-sales with Canadian investment. The undertones of Nation Building can not be denied in this aligning of forces. The Canadian investors are already lined up to make this project a reality and open for skiing by the time the 2017/18 ski season gets underway. But of course, that’s only if the BC government will give its final approval.

So what’s special about this project. I encourage you to see for yourself by browsing through the 325 page Master Plan. In particular, have a look at Appendix 3, Valemount Resort Environmental Impact Assessment put together by Vancouver-based Enkon Environmental Limited. I’ve seen  a number of Environmental Assessments over the years and this one strikes me as a particularly fine example of what can be done.

The Pheidias Group have a vision for an environmentally sensitive year round ecotourism resort that will provide visitors to British Columbia with another destination rivaling that of Whister-Blackcomb. It will give visitors stunning views of Mount Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. The peak elevation of the site is on Mt. Arthur Meighen (3,205 metres). Compare this to the peak elevations at Whistler (2,240m), Blackcomb (2,440m),  Sun Peaks (2,080m), Mount Washington (1,588m), and Big White (2,319). The high peak elevation is such that skiing on glaciers will likely be year round for quite some time to come. In addition, this elevation, coupled with a more northerly location bodes well for long term operations in light of ongoing global warming and the increased likelihood of more precipitation at lower elevations and latitudes in the form of rain instead of snow in the years ahead. What’s more, the resort has the potential to be carbon neutral by tapping into the nearby 5.7 MW Hystad Creek small scale hydro project. There’s also incredible geothermal energy potential in the region.

After meeting with the Pheidias Group, peppering them with questions, taking copious notes, and subsequently reading the Master Plan, it’s clear to me that this is an exciting project that I am keen to see move forward. So what’s the delay?

The irony is that for a government so proud of touting the “let’s get to yes” mantra and so chuffed with itself for proclaiming in law that the first Wednesday in March is “Red Tape Reduction Day“, the delay falls squarely in the realm of government red tape precluding the project from getting to yes.

The project is six months behind and the latest layer of red tape is a bizarre new requirement for a four lane 80 km/hr highway to take skiers on an 8km journey from Valemount to the Resort Base village.

Valemount Glacier Destination is an ecologically sensitive project that will provide an incredible economic stimulus to northeastern BC. In the words of Oberto Oberti, President of the Pheidias Group, “We want to work with nature, not against nature”.

If the BC government spent a fraction of the energy they are spending in a desperate attempt to land a hypothetical LNG facility on actually moving real projects forward, we would be leading North America in the development of a 21st century diversified economy.

The “forces of no” within the BC Liberal government really need to “get to yes” in a timely fashion on this project.

Protecting Vancouver Island’s Old Growth Forest

Question period in the legislature today was surreal. I left the chamber wondering whether I should quit politics altogether. I was absolutely appalled by the behaviour of official opposition and government members. It was shocking — truly shocking.

Personal attacks, vitriol, abuse, obnoxious heckling and utter disrespect was on display for all to see. This place needs to change. It needs a complete shake up.

That won’t happen, it seems, unless the general public rises up to vote out those politicians on both sides of the house who are more interested in hurling abuse than dealing with issues facing British Columbians. There was no excuse for the behaviour today. No excuse at all.

I was up on question period today and had planned to ask the relevant Minister two questions. The Minister was not at Question Period so I had to be nimble and ask a completely different question (see next post).

The question I had planned to ask is reproduced below. It was meant to coincide with an announcement on the need for widespread protection of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island.

We have lost over 90% of our biggest and most productive low-elevation old-growth forests. The government is continuing to allow the harvesting of our old-growth forests on Vancouver Island based on a plan created in the 1990s. It’s time to create a plan for this century.

The reality is, the government will say they are ‘protecting’ old-growth forests when in reality they have largely protected the steep, high mountain slopes or wet bogs. Yes it’s technically old-growth, but it’s the valley bottom, low-elevation, highly productive old-growth forests with the massive thousand-year-old trees that are at greatest risk.

In 2013 the UVic Environmental Law Centre proposed an “Old Growth Protection Act”. Part of this science-based plan was to immediately end old-growth logging in critically endangered forests and to quickly phase out old-growth logging where there is a high risk to biological diversity and ecosystem integrity. I believe the idea has merit.

Aside from ensuring habitat and biodiversity integrity, protecting our old-growth forests in British Columbia should be a part of our province’s climate plan. On Vancouver Island, apart from reducing our emissions, one of the most significant things we can do to for the climate is to leave our old-growth forests intact. It is also the responsible thing to do for our eco-tourism industry and follows the wishes of local communities across this island.

In April the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities passed R11 – a resolution calling for increased protection of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island.

The Walbran Valley is the one of the most concerning productive old-growth forests but there are a number of old-growth areas that are or could be logged any day including: Nootka Island, East Creek, Edinburgh Grove, Tsitika Valley, Nahmint Valley, Southwest Nimpkish, Echo Valley, Maclaughlin Ridge, Horne Mountain, and the Cameron Valley Fire Break. In my view there is no compelling reason to justify the logging the last of our productive old-growth forests.

Background Facts

  • On Vancouver Island 90% of the biggest and most productive low-elevation old-growth forest has been removed
  • Only 13% of the land base on Vancouver Island is protected from logging, only 8% of the island’s productive forest ecosystems are protected, and just 3% of the valley-bottom rainforests are protected.
  • A recent report from the Wilderness Committee calls for a conservation plan for Vancouver Island’s rainforest where ½ of Vancouver Island’s rainforest is set aside
  • Old-Growth forests are substantially better carbon sinks than young forests. According to a new study in the journal Nature, a tree’s growth accelerates with age, enabling them to take up more carbon than younger trees.
  • In 2013 the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre proposed an “Old Growth Protection Act” to ensure better protection for BC’s ancient forest heritage.
  • They called for a science-based plan that would have immediately ended old-growth logging in critically endangered forests and phased out old-growth logging where there is a “high risk to biological diversity and ecosystem integrity”.
  • Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the Uvic Environmental Law Centre, stated at the time that “there is a need for new legislation and planning that is based on science, governed by timelines, and plugs existing loopholes or inconsistencies.”
  • While there is an old-growth management strategy currently in place, it is heavily skewed towards protecting areas of low productivity (e.g. mountain tops and steep slopes)
  • The Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities 2016 R11 resolution stated the following:

“be it further resolved that AVICC send a letter to the provincial government—Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations—as well as relevant government organizations requesting that the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan be amended to protect all of Vancouver Island’s remaining old growth forest on provincial Crown land.”


Question


While I’m pleased with government’s announcement today that they’re going to protect 186,198 hectares of already-protected old growth forest on the mainland, on Vancouver Island, our old growth forests are in dire need of protection. The Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club have called what’s happening here an ecological emergency.

Putting this in context, over 90% of the grandest and most productive low-elevation old-growth forests on Vancouver Island have already been logged. Only about 3% of the original high productivity, valley bottom old-growth forests are protected in parks and Old Growth Management Areas on BC’s Southern Coast. Several species are also on the brink of disappearing and biodiversity is being affected.

The Walbran Valley is one of a rapidly dwindling number of contiguous prime ancient forests left on Southern Vancouver Island large enough to provide habitat for healthy populations of a number of endangered species. Yet a 486-hectare core area of the valley is unprotected — a portion of it is slated for logging right now.

Is the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations open to implementing an alternative science-based forest management system for Vancouver Island’s remaining intact old-growth forest?


Supplemental Question


Old growth forests are not only fundamental to the ecological integrity of Vancouver Island, they are also a major eco-tourism draw and many island communities have recognized this.

For example, Chambers of commerce and city councils from Tofino to Victoria have passed motions opposing the continued old-growth logging in the Walbran Valley.

Two weeks ago the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities endorsed a motion calling on the government to amend the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan to protect all of Vancouver Island’s remaining old growth forest found on provincial Crown Land. This land use plan was created in the 1990s and logging of old-growth forest has continued for the last two decades.

Will the government recognize that a plan formed in the 1990s is no longer adequate for today, listen to wishes of local communities and amend the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan to protect all remaining old-growth forests on crown land?