There’s nothing sexy about fighting to improve a regulatory process.
Yet in the years since former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gutted Canada’s environmental assessment process—scaling back projects that can be reviewed, reducing money and time available for public input, and worse—the need for a total overhaul of the existing and broken process has grown by the day.
And as Canada debates the future of controversial pipeline projects, knowing a rigorous and fair process is in place to review them is essential for all Canadians, whether the project is in our backyard or not.
Simply put, as This Magazine wrote by way of headline to my story on broken EA’s, Canada’s environmental assessments suck — and they’re devastating our land.
Check out my story from the May-June 2017 issue of This Magazine on the crusade to fix Canada’s broken EA process.
Ken Boon lives on a “little piece of heaven,” lost to the world in British Columbia’s Peace River bottomlands. His wife, Arlene, grew up in Fort St. John on a homestead her grandfather purchased in the 1940s. The property, where the pair farm grains and run an 18-acre market garden, overlooks Cache Creek, a tributary of the 1,923-kilometre-long Peace River winding west-to-east from B.C. to Alberta. Sitting in his office, Boon looks southwest to the Peace-Boudreau Protected Area, 17,000-acres of wilderness that B.C. almost made a provincial park to conserve winter habitat for grizzlies and wolves and calving ground for elk. Coming down the mountain, those elk herds traverse Boon’s property. “It’s a jewel,” he says. “It makes me sick to think we’re on the verge of losing this.”
By December 2016, the Boon’s ancestral home was no longer theirs. Expropriated by the government, the property— which was meant to stay in the family forever—must be vacated by May 31. They’ve been forced aside for the Site C dam.