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.
Media Release: November 7th, 2016
Andrew Weaver Responds to the National Oceans Protection Plan
For Immediate Release
Victoria, B.C. – “Though weak on details, I am supportive of the initiatives outlined in the National Oceans Protection Plan includes,” says Andrew Weaver, Leader of the BC Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
“I am especially grateful to see derelict vessels included in this plan. As an MLA for a coastal area, it is an ongoing problem I have struggled with in my riding. Currently, local, provincial and federal governments get mired in jurisdictional squabbles as the remediation process for derelict vessels is delayed, leaving boats to rust and leak on the foreshore.
“The Heiltsuk Nation has worked tirelessly to monitor and mitigate the impact of the recent diesel spill near Bella Bella. They stepped up to fill in where the provincial and federal governments were lacking and I’m glad to see the importance of co-management with Indigenous communities acknowledged in this plan.
“That said, I am worried this announcement will be held up as a justification for the approval future heavy oil projects. Even with a full protection plan the effects of a diluted bitumen spill in our waters would be catastrophic.
“If Trans Mountain were approved, which this announcement leaves room for, the number of tankers leaving Vancouver Harbour and traveling through the south coast of B.C. would increase by 580%. Currently, five tankers per month enter the port at the Westridge Marine Terminal. With Trans Mountain that would increase to an estimate 34 tankers per month. At 408 tankers transiting into and out of the Vancouver Harbour per year, over the project’s estimated 50 year lifespan that would be 40,800 tanker trips past the Gulf Islands and Southern Vancouver Island through the Juan de Fuca Strait – a route the Federal Tanker Safety Expert Panel has deemed “very high risk.”
“In both my professional and political capacity, and my role as a Trans Mountain intervener, I can state with certainty that the project must be rejected if we are to move in the right direction. The time for halfway measures – both to protect our marine environment and to reach our pledge to cap global warming well below 2.0°C – is at an end.”
“If world leaders understood what they signed in Paris, they would know that meeting the 2.0°C target is incompatible with the investment in any new fossil fuel infrastructure that is planned to be used in the next several decades.”
Mat Wright – Press Secretary
Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
Media Statement: October 27th, 2016
Weaver Calls for the Resignation of B.C. Minister of Environment
For Immediate Release
Victoria, B.C. – “I do not call for this lightly. I have spent my career in the climate science field advising provincial, federal, and international governments on their climate policies. Never in my life have I witnessed a government using such outrageous rhetoric to describe subpar efforts to protect the environment,” said Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and Leader of the B.C. Green Party.
“The ministry’s responsibilities have too often been neglected, forcing citizens to step in and try to protect the environment themselves. British Columbians have been left investigating and mitigating the impacts of environmental tragedies like what happened at the Mt. Polley mine, the Shawnigan contaminated soil facility, and the Bella Bella diesel spill with their own time and money, often employing the courts to force the Ministry to do their job,” said Weaver. “This government’s policy continues to put vested and private interests ahead of their responsibilities they have to the people of British Columbia.
“I now lack confidence in Minister Polak to uphold the obligations outlined in her ministerial mandate letter. As such, I am calling for her to be replaced by a minister who will stand up for the people of B.C. and the water and environment that we all rely on.
“The absence of a real climate policy, the reaction to the Mount Polley tailings pond breach, and the repeated compliance failures at the Shawnigan contaminated soil facility with no real ministerial response are egregious examples that I have tried to work with the Ministry on,” said Weaver. “The Minister’s failed response to the diesel spill in Heiltsuk Territory is the last straw for me.
“It is appalling that the B.C. Liberals can look British Columbians in the eye and tell them that they have a climate leadership plan. They are not climate leaders, and they don’t even have a plan. At least when Mr. Harper was Prime Minister we knew where he stood on environmental protection. Premier Clark and the Minister of Environment claim one thing and does the complete opposite.”
Sonia Furstenau, CVRD Director and BC Green Party candidate for Cowichan Valley is equally frustrated with the impacts provincial policy is having on her community. “In Shawnigan, we are experiencing first-hand the downside of this government’s insistence on ‘getting to yes’ at all costs. The people of Shawnigan are suffering from ongoing stress and anxiety while the Ministry of Environment allows for ongoing non-compliance with the contaminated landfill permit, and compounding failures at the site. This ministry promised the community that all water leaving this site would meet the strictest aquatic and drinking water guidelines, and already, 20 months into the permit, levels of toluene, copper, iron, manganese, aluminum and more have exceeded these guidelines.”
Furstenau has consistently urged the Minister to act. “Under the Environmental Management Act, misrepresentation during permit application stage and ongoing non-compliance since this company began operations gives the Minister more than adequate grounds to revoke this permit. If she won’t use her authority to revoke this permit and protect the people of Shawnigan Lake, she should step down.
Press Secretary for MLA Andrew Weaver
250 216 3382
250 812 6136
Media Statement: October 24th, 2016
Bella Bella Spill a Wake up Call on Failed “World Class” Containment
For immediate release
Victoria, B.C. – “The provincial and federal government’s ability to respond to spills is nowhere near ‘world class’ — it is not even passingly adequate,” says Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and leader of the B.C. Green Party.
“The diesel spill near Bella Bella, B.C. has been ongoing since the 13th and they can’t even keep a containment boom around the leak. What’s even worse is that a spill response boat responding to the accident also sank. You literally can’t make this stuff up.”
The Heiltsuk Nation Chief Marilyn Slett reported that the containment booms around the sunken tug had failed in the face of continuing storms and waves as high as three metres, and the spill had spread. That was later confirmed by the owner of the sunken tug, Kirby Offshore Marine.
“This is devastating to the Heiltsuk Nation and everyone who lives in the region reliant on the coast for sustenance and income,” says Andrew Weaver “This spill, as well as the bunker oil leak in Vancouver Harbour that closed beaches, demonstrate that it is impossible for the provincial and federal governments to meet all of the five conditions set by the province regarding pipeline expansion.
“The people who live in the Bella Bella region deserve to know how this spill will impact their home and health, and how they will be compensated. They are on the front lines trying to save the clam beds and prevent the damage from spreading. The provincial government needs to step up and take an active stake.
“While the news that marine pilots will now be required on all vessels transporting fuel is welcome, this retroactive response clearly demonstrates spill prevention is not the priority it should be.
Mat Wright – Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
250 216 3382
Since becoming an MLA I have visited the proposed location of the Site C dam on the Peace River twice. Most recently, on Aug. 23, I travelled a section of the river with a group of concerned community members. It’s hard to fathom the scale of planned development unless you see it in person, just as it’s hard to grasp the human and cultural cost of this project until you listen to the people caught in the middle of it.
Dam construction would flood more than 5,000 hectares of land – drowning homes, traditional lands, scores of culturally important sites, and 15,985 acres of agricultural land.
Local and indigenous people in the area are being systematically stripped of their livelihood and culture by one arm of government, while receiving apologies for past injustices and promises of reconciliation from another.
Compounding the environmental, historical, cultural and agricultural damages is a reckless disregard of energy economics.
Since 2005, domestic demand for electricity in B.C. has been essentially flat, but over the next 20 years BC Hydro forecasts our energy needs will increase by about 40 per cent as a consequence of both population and economic growth. They are selling Site C as the solution to this growing electricity demand, but their argument doesn’t hold water.
Upon completion, the dam would produce 1,100 MW (megawatts, i.e. millions of Watts) of power capacity and up to 5,100 GWh (gigawatt hours, i.e. billions of watt hours) of electricity each year.
Currently only about 1.5 per cent of B.C.’s electricity production is supplied by wind energy (compared to roughly 20 per cent in P.E.I.). With our mountainous terrain and coastal boundary, the potential for both onshore and offshore wind power production is enormous. The Canadian Wind Energy Association and the BC Hydro Integrated Resource Plan 2013 indicate that 5,100 GWh of wind-generated electricity could be produced in B.C. for about the same price as the electricity to be produced by the Site C dam.
A report by the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association noted B.C. also has substantial untapped potential for firm, on demand, geothermal power which could be developed where power is needed.
While costs associated with Site C will be borne by provincial taxpayers (a price tag that will eventually be much more than BC Hydro’s estimate of roughly $9 billion), solar, wind and geothermal project risks are covered by industry. Alternative sources coupled with existing dams could provide enough energy to meet the needs of British Columbians, with the potential to scale up as needed. They would also provide better economic opportunities to local communities and First Nations across the province, with lower impacts on traditional territories.
Instead of a diversified approach to renewable energy, the B.C. government is pushing Site C because they want to offer LNG proponents access to firm power. As I have been explaining for years, however, there will be no B.C. LNG industry in the foreseeable future because of a global glut in natural gas and plummeting prices for imported LNG in Asia. As the government desperately doubles down on LNG, renewable projects are moving elsewhere. Just this year they let a $750 million US investment to build wind capacity on Vancouver Island slip away, despite buy-in from five First Nations, TimberWest, EDP Renewables and the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
I wanted to see how much has been done when I visited Site C this summer. Nothing has passed a point of no return. Proceeding with Site C is actively driving clean energy investment out of the province, but it is not too late to correct our province’s power trajectory.