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Issues: Corporate Grab Of Crown Land
By Dehlia Simper. You only have to come to the community of Lake Errock here in the Fraser Valley to see what the removal of an entire mountain looks like by aggregate mining.
For residents of the once beautiful resort community, it is an ugly reminder of what industry can do without the consent of local community. For residents of the Fraser Valley, it serves as a warning foreboding of what’s to come if the Aggregate Pilot Project is legislated through.
The APP is a document that’s been years in the making, behind closed doors between the Aggregate Producers Association of British Columbia (APABC), the Ministry of Energy Mines & Petroleum Resources (MEMPR), and local government without the consultation of the public. This one sided document drafted up by the mining industry, identifies all the gravel deposits in the Fraser Valley but falls short on identifying other land use and resource development like tourism, recreation, residential use, water and fish resource.
The right to clean fresh water has always been something that we’ve taken for granted but now it is changing hands at a time when it is becoming scarcer and taking a back seat with gravel extraction. If you study the APP map that was drafted it will become clear that most of the gravel deposits targeted are around all our watersheds.
The APP will finally go to a public information meeting that will be conducted as a formal public hearing on June 26th hosted by the FVRD. This meeting only came about because of constant lobbying from concerns groups and will determine the fate of many communities in the Fraser Valley at the eleventh hour. Even though the public will have a chance to give feedback, at best this meeting will fulfill an appearance of democracy as decision makers ultimately will run with the ball that’s rolling in their direction and will bring them one step closer to a corporate grab of our resources in the Fraser Valley.
Once this project is approved, it will allow an easy transition of private consolidation of water and gravel resources and will operate with an open license of destruction. The decision will be conveniently timed with the passing of the omnibus bill c-38 that will wipe out important environmental laws including the protection of fish habitat and is backed by an antiquated mining act that the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resources use to their advantage.
What does this rigged system say about the state of democracy in this country? This systematic decimation of entire watersheds and communities strips away the very foundation of democracy that this country was based on. In the past we had laws that addressed socio-economic and environmental assessments, traces of which may still be
found under the Strategic Land & Policy Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture & Lands with guidelines for the allocation of crown lands. Under 1.2 of Crown Land Allocation Principles, it states; Crown land values are managed for the benefit of the public; Economic, environmental and social needs and opportunities are identified and supported; The interests of First Nations communities are recognized; Decisions are timely, well considered and transparent; Public accountability is maintained during the allocation of Crown Land
Isn’t crown land supposed to be a trust for the people, “the Commons” that we all benefit from? How can crown land be privatized and traded while destroying the livelihood and lives of its people? We must stand up for Canada and stop this open season on land. I urge you to attend this public meeting and raise your concerns.
The meeting is scheduled for 7:00 PM Tuesday, June 26th at the Evergreen Hall, Cheam Room, 9291 Corbould Street, Chilliwack. Doors open at 6:30 PM.