Today’s Poll

Op/Ed: Message to NDP Government — Fix systems to make clean air to breath, clean water to drink, healthy food to eat for everyone

By Contributor
October 25th, 2020

The NDP is projected to form a majority government following Saturday’s provincial election, with Katrine Conroy being re-elected in Kootenay West by a landslide, and Brittny Anderson, NDP has been declared the provisional winner in Nelson-Creston. The West Kootenay EcoSociety congratulates our local elected MLAs and wants to work together on the following priorities.

Putting People First in the Energy and Climate Crisis

“People need clean air to breath we can’t keep dumping carbon pollution into the air and expect people to stay healthy and safe. Our West Kootenay MLAs need to do more to stop giving the tax dollars of hard working families to Big Oil and Gas companies — their CEOs make enough money,” said Montana Burgess, EcoSociety’s Executive Director.

As the recent Stand report found, John Horgan’s BC government has funded the oil and gas sector, only behind Alberta. They’ve spent twice as much on oil and gas subsidies as it does on its entire climate program. Last fiscal year, the NDP spent $998 million on oil and gas and just $484 million trying to cut carbon pollution.

EcoSociety has been working with Castlegar, Kaslo, Nelson, New Denver, Rossland, Slocan, Silverton, Warfield and the Regional District of Central Kootenay to build a plan to transition these communities to 100% renewable energy across community energy uses no later than 2050 that is affordable for the people of these communities.

This draft plan has just been released and requires the provincial government to do more for the West Kootenay people so we can build healthier, safer and stronger communities.

“Now is the time for the NDP to commit to a future with 100% clean and renewable energy,” says David Reid, EcoSociety’s Renewable Energy Engagement Director.

“That means setting a timeline for net-zero emissions and also 100% renewable energy for all energy used, including renewable natural gas. LNG and conventional natural gas are not clean, not renewable and not healthy for the people of BC.”

The centralized energy system in BC does not encourage renewable energy generation, which is needed for rural and remote communities, like those throughout the West Kootenays, to make sure we all have the energy we need and aren’t without electricity for days on end, as is all too common at the north end of Kootenay Lake.

Protecting Old Growth Forests

People need clean water to drink to be healthy, and protecting old growth forests is also about protecting our watersheds and to keep our drinking water clean. Old growth forests are also carbon sinks, meaning they store carbon and help safeguard people from the worst climate impacts.

“The new government needs to start immediately implementing the 14 recommendations of the independent Old Growth panel’s report, released earlier this fall, to protect the tiny amount of ancient forest that’s left,” said Burgess. “To make sure people have clean water to drink, we need to move immediately to stop the logging that is still happening right now in old growth forests.”

Ensuring Food Security Across BC

EcoSociety launched its Farms to Friends program this year to provide fresh, local produce to families and households that cannot meet their nutritional needs due to the unfair and unhealthy globalized food system. The NDP government needs to make good on Premier Horgan’s promise to care about people and fix the systems that keep low-income and working families in poverty and keep wealthy people rich.

“We’re proud to run Farms to Friends, but we wish we didn’t need to. There is so much wealth in BC, there’s no reason any child should be living in poverty in 2020,” said Burgess.

“The COVID pandemic has just exposed the unfair poverty and risk people take without jobs or working minimum wage jobs. There will be more emergencies in the future and there is no excuse for anyone to be without enough healthy food. This is the role of our government, not the role of charities and non-profits.”

The West Kootenay EcoSociety is a non-profit community-driven organization with over 20,000 supporters that brings together local residents to protect the natural environment while building just, equitable, healthy, and livable communities in the West Kootenay region.

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