Regional District Electoral Area directors are occasionally invited to attend seminars, forums and educational sessions in the interest of improving our understanding of issues and our contributions to local government.
The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) provided such a forum in the first week of February. During the session, we learned about managing community protection with the projected increase in wildfires throughout B.C., and successes and difficulties in managing product recycling.
There were updates on the BC Water Sustainability Act and its implementation along with a presentation on innovations in the provision of health care in rural and remote areas.
Several provinces have sanctioned Physician Assistants or PAs, who have completed all the undergraduate requirements of an MD to work under the supervision of MDs. Currently, the B.C. government is considering PA certification.
At the February meeting of the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board, we heard that Interior Health is working on expanding the role of paramedics to include the provision of patient home care and we will hear more about those efforts in the near future.
I am looking forward to the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology (CMIAE) Forum on Environmental and Social Assessment in Cranbrook. CMIAE is an association of Kootenay-based environmental scientists who organize programs for professional development as well as an annual forum open to the public. I have appreciated attending the Institute’s previous Forums on conserving wetlands, the dilemma of urban wildlife, and managing resource roads (there are over five hundred thousand kilometres of these roads in B.C.).
Beginning in the 1960s, the concept of environmental assessment in governance procedures was motivated by concern about sustaining our biophysical environment. At the same time, we also wanted to maintain economic growth and our standard of living. As a result, we seldom refused projects because of their environmental impact. Today, with the rapid global cumulative impact of land use and the energy we use to maintain our standard of living, we are back to the question of sustaining life on this earth.
Environmental assessments are now much more comprehensive and include information on cultural, archeological,historical, social and economic impacts of a project.
I am looking forward to an upcoming conference on the Past, Present, and Future of Environmental Assessment in Canada, which will include a presentation on the Ktunaxa approach to cultural and environmental assessment, as well as a case study on the Jumbo Valley as it relates to politics, geography and environmental assessment.
Environmental assessments are applied regularly to mining projects in the region related to everything from coal to gypsum, so this conference will be another excellent learning opportunity that will directly relate to issues we, as Area directors, hear about and deal with in our role.
Gerry Wilkie is the Regional District of East Kootenay director for Area G, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.