The future of northern BC is being decided in secret

The future of northwestern BC is being decided in secret, with virtually no public input.

The development of the region, and its environmental and economic future, will be largley determined by whether a new transmission line is built upHigh 37.

The investment of between $120 to $400million in public monies in the extension of the electricity grid is a major public policy decision,but there has been no public debate.

In fact, the government’s position is unclear. Three Dogwood Initiative volunteers haveattempted to track down the who/what/where’s of the Hwy 37 transmission line approvalprocess to no avail. The various ministries keep passing the buck and ourvolunteers keep getting the run around.

Subsidies

The secrecy is notsurprising, given that that the decision revolves around whether the governmentis going to use up to $400 million dollars of hard earned tax payer money tosubsidize mining, coalbed methane and other development projects.

It is these companies,many of whom are donors to the BC Liberal party, that are whining for the transmissionline (and subsidy), not the people living in the region.

And despite thepromise “to end subsidies to business” the BC Liberals are considering givingit to them.

The resource companiesare whining for a subsidy and a transmission line that would almost exclusivelybenefit them. They want thesubsidized new transmission line in order to provide power for the mines likeNova Gold’s Galore Creek, BC Metals’ Red Chris near Iskut, Fortune Minerals’Klappan coal mine and Shell’s coalbed methane drilling in the Sacred Headwatersof the Skeena, Stikine andNass watersheds and a host of other proposed projects.

Tahltan opposition

And it appears thatthe Tahltan, the First Nation most directly impacted by the proposal, opposethe extension of the grid until a comprehensive land use plan recognizing theirinterests and concerns is completed.

Why wouldn’t they? Withoutany comprehensive planning, the new transmission line will facilitate the avalancheof mining and fossil fuel projects being proposed for their territory.

What is clear is that ultimately the decisionto approve and subsidize a transmission line along Hwy 37 will be a politicaldecision.  

So where is the stakeholder process? Where arethe public hearings? How about a transparent process to consult affected FirstNations?

Not surprisingly, given this government’s trackrecord, there haven’t been any, nor are any planned.

Recently, we did find out that the five DeputyMinisters  have beenmeeting to consider the Hwy 37 transmission line.  The deputy Ministers of of Agriculture & Lands, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,Environment, Economic Development, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation have been involved.

Dogwood Initiative is filing a request for allnotes, minutes and correspondence from these meetings.

It appears that is the only way any of us willfind out the more about the Highway 37 proposal.

Please consider making a donation to help the Tahltan Elders and families fight to protect the future of Northwestern BC.

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