MLA Report: Serving public interest

One of the biggest issues that I am hearing about this week is the need for local involvement in decision making on the land base.

One of the biggest issues that I am hearing about this week is the need for local involvement in decision making on the land base.

There have been a number of decisions made recently by government where local people have felt that they were either not consulted or their expressed views were ignored.

But this is not a particularly recent turn of events. Over the last 11 years, many specific legislative steps have been taken to remove previous requirements for local participation in decision making.

In 2003, the BC Liberals passed legislation called the Significant Projects Streamlining Act which allows projects to be designated as provincially significant and thus override local jurisdiction which might hamper development.

Bill 30, also known as the Ashlu River bill, removed the power of local governments to make decisions on whether or not private power river-diversion projects should go ahead on public lands.

An amendment to the Local Government Act has now allowed the Provincial government to create a Mountain Resort Municipality where there are no residents and appoint a mayor and council that may never face election.

Community land use planning groups which have developed Integrated Resource Plans have been disbanded and the need for community consultation on land use has been eliminated.

These are only a few examples of the ways that this government has taken you out of the decision-making process. And we’ve seen that the quality of decisions being made has been lessened as local wisdom has been ignored.

I believe that we need to build resiliency in rural communities and that means that local residents must have a say on how our land base is used. I believe that those who rely on the land base for employment, recreation and the protection of environmental values will make the best decisions.

And that local involvement ensures that the public interest is always at the forefront of policy decisions, something that has been lacking for too long in British Columbia.

Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River – Revelstoke.

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