Each year at Dogwood Initiative we undergo a rigorous andesoteric ritual of predicting the future. Last year we made ourpredictions public for the first time, forecasting upcoming trends fordemocracy, energy, First Nations, forests and communities.
Thisis the fifth bulletin in a five part series looking at our predictionsconcerning the challenges and opportunities we expected to presentthemselves in BC in 2006.
You bet. Community opposition to new dams, roads, ski resorts, pipelines,power plants, power lines, mines or coalbed methane projects, ballooned in2006.
All things coal
British Columbia’s promotion of all things coal ignited broad oppositionthroughout BC in 2006. Yet, because they continue to be major donors to the BCLiberals big, powerful coal mining companies continued to be very effective ininfluencing the policies of the current government, despite growing grassrootsopposition.
Gordon Campbell’s government and their corporate donors continued to promotetwo options for turning dirty coal into shiny, crisp dollars. As predicted,coal-fired power joined coalbed methane as a hot button issue last year.
Communities in rural BC rallied around opposing coalbed methane developmentin their communities. Residents of the Bulkley valley joined the residents ofFernie, Princeton, Cumberland, Courtenay, Hat Creek, Iskut, Telegraph Creek andPrinceton in objecting to coalbed methane proposals. Instead of fixing the weaklaws and regulations, government and gas companies ratchet up the spin and PR.Residents from across the political spectrum united around unaddressed concernsabout poor regulation, harm to wildlife, fragmented landscapes, noise, andtoxic water.
Many municipal governments and regional associations passed resolutionsagainst coalbed methane. However, as predicted , the provincial government hasignored these calls and continues to promote coalbed methane, even thoughcoalbed methane operations have never been shown to co-exist with healthyenvironments and salmon populations.
The 2006 hotspots were the eastKootenays, Telkwa and Smithers in the northern interior, and the SacredHeadwaters of the Stikine, Skeenaand Nass in Tahltan territory. We expect coalbed methane developers and thegovernment to make another push try make a one last
As expected, ComplianceEnergy proposal to construct and operate BC’s first coal power plant, a56-megawatt thermal electric plant near Princeton,created controversy. Our calls for an environmental were successful, but thegovernment is keen on getting coal-fired power operational in BC as quickly aspossible.
AES Wapiti Energy Corporation, 184-megawatt plant proposed for northeast ofTumbler Ridge is also moving forward quickly. (We expected the second plant tobe proposed for the Kootneys, not Peace River)
Major opposition is developing among local residents and environmentalgroups. The profile of coal-fired power should increase in the coming year.
We predicted little progress would occur on the government’s commitment todouble the volume under community management. We are glad to say we were wrongon this one, with significant progress being made.
The BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA) also made progress inleveling the playing field for community forests. Unexpected advances were madein relation to stumpage policies and in the securing long term tenures forcommunity forests. This is the result of some amazing work the BCCFA’s staff,board and volunteers