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Minister talks tankers, trophy hunting in North Vancouver
B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake met privately with a handful of North Vancouver residents concerned about the province’s direction on the environment Friday, in a meeting arranged by North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornthwaite.
While media weren’t allowed into the invite-only breakfast at the North Vancouver Holiday Inn, The Outlook spoke with some of the roughly 20 or so attendees as well as the minister and MLA Thorntwaite after the meeting.
Of greatest concern for the handful of invitees were the issues of tanker traffic — both on Burrard Inlet with Kinder Morgan’s planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to Burnaby and through the North Coast with Enbridge’s planned Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat — and trophy bear hunting in the province.
And while it seems no consensus was reached on either issue between the province and stakeholders like the North Shore Black Bear Network or the Tsleil-Waututh Nation — who adamantly oppose any pipeline expansion on Burrard Inlet — most agreed that the meeting itself was a step in the right direction for the BC Liberal government.
Outside the meeting room, Minister Lake told The Outlook his ministry would not be making any announcements in the near term either supporting or opposing the two planned pipeline expansions or on changing the laws that currently allow for the hunting of grizzly bears for sport in B.C.
“There’s obvious concern not just about Enbridge but about Kinder Morgan’s expansion as well, and we discussed the process under which those projects would be reviewed and British Columbia’s role in that process,” Lake said. “That’s why we take the position that we will investigate what those costs potentially could be, what the benefits potentially could be before we come to a position on either one of them.”
Speaking for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Sundance Chief Rueben George called the meeting productive but said the nation would not be moved to see eye-to-eye with any supporters of oil pipe expansion on the Tsleil-Waututh’s traditional Burrard Inlet lands.
“It’s everything for us — environmental, spiritual,” George said.
The nation is similarly opposed to current laws allowing grizzly hunting for sport, he said.
“Take photos of them instead of shooting them,” George said. “That’s far more valuable than the little money they make by bringing in international hunters to wipe them out.”
From a personal standpoint, both Thornthwaite and the environment minister said they are morally opposed to hunting bears for sport, but said there are economic benefits — particularly in the north — that need to be considered.
“It’s an important source of revenue for some parts of the province but it is a very emotional issue,” Lake said. “For those people who don’t like hunting, they can’t imagine that people would do this. But we’re a very diverse group of people in British Columbia and people come from all over the world to conduct this kind of activity. Personally, I have real difficulty with it, but I represent the people of British Columbia. I don’t represent just myself.”
North Shore Black Bear Network chair and meeting attendee Tony Webb told The Outlook he is not opposed to the sport killing of male grizzly bears only — as they tend to endanger their own population by killing and eating still-hibernating cubs — but said that’s a difficult, if not impossible, rule to enforce.
On both issues of bear hunting and oil transport in the province, Webb said his message to the government was to expand public consultations and, most of all, “to get it right because this is the only chance we have.”