1979 Legislative Session: 1st Session, 32nd Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
TUESDAY, JULY 10, 1979
[ Page 653 ]
Committee of Supply: Ministry of Environment estimates.
On vote 89.
Mr. Skelly –– 653
Hon. Mr. Mair –– 654
Mr. Gabelmann –– 656
Mrs. Wallace –– 657
Mrs. Jordan –– 658
Mr. Cocke –– 658
Hon. Mr. Mair –– 659
Mr. Skelly –– 660
Hon. Mr. Mair –– 661
Mr. Nicolson –– 662
Mr. Davis –– 663
Hon. Mr. Mair –– 665
Mrs. Wallace –– 666
Hon. Mr. Mair –– 668
B.C. Heritage Trust report, 1978.
Hon. Mr. Curtis –– 668
Provincial Capital Commission statement of receipts and expenditures up to
March 31, 1979.
Hon. Mr. Curtis –– 668
TUESDAY, JULY 10, 1979
The House met at 8:30 p.m.
Orders of the Day
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Rogers in the chair.
ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT
On vote 89: minister's office, $164,938 — continued.
MR. SKELLY: Mr. Chairman, just before the long dinner hour we were discussing procedures under the Pesticide Control Act and regulations, and various appeals and that kind of thing, and I mentioned the lack of a policy surrounding the use of pesticides in the province. I believe I read a quotation from the royal commission which was held into pesticides by the previous NDP government, in which it was suggested that the present legal and administrative arrangements are cumbersome, lack public credibility and tend to perpetuate the use of chemical pesticides instead of alternative methods.
One of the main battles that they've had around the granting of pesticide permits in the province is that inadequate consideration has been given by some authorities such as B.C. Hydro and some forest companies into alternative methods of pest management. I believe Hydro has even admitted that they have only two people on their staff who have been doing work in this area, looking into alternatives to pesticide control, weed control or vegetation control other than the chemical methods. At one time the member for Comox (Ms. Sanford) and I wrote to Hydro and asked them what kind of work they were doing in alternative management means, and they fairly well indicated that there was nothing on the books.
I think that one of the ways a prospective applicant should have to justify his use of chemical herbicides or pesticides is that he must come before the committee and prove that he has used alternatives and those alternative means have failed. Unfortunately, because of the lack of public view that's involved in the initial process — that is when the interministerial committee considers the application — it's not known to the public just what alternatives have been considered, what alternatives have been used and have failed whether an applicant has done any research into the alternatives at all.
The minister, I believe, was in the process of discussing some of those areas of concern. One of the things, I think, that the minister and the government lacks is a real serious intent to minimize the use of chemical pesticides in the province. When they passed the Pesticide Control Act in the first place, it was simply to create a management system so that they would know what pesticides are being used; they would know that for certain categories of pesticides, licences of a certain nature would be issued to make sure that people who were applying those pesticides did have some background in the use of them.
It's quite different in Sweden, obviously, and I quote from a magazine that's published by the ministry. The policy in SWEDEN — and I gather that the minister has visited Sweden to look into things other than this, but he has visited Sweden — is....
MR. SKELLY: Perhaps the minister will clarify that.
HON. MR. BENNETT: What do you know that we don't know?
MR. SKELLY: What does he know that he doesn't want to know? I gather he was looking into the management of wolves and he took over.... [Laughter.]
Perhaps the minister will clarify that subject.
In Sweden they treat the use and abuse of pesticides and poisonous chemicals very seriously. In Wildlife Review of summer 1978 they indicate a Swedish industrialist was arrested following the discovery of 32,000 gallons of toxic waste buried in rusty barrels on plant property. The official charge was "spreading poisonous substances." They take a much more serious view of the application and abuse of these substances in other countries than we do here. One of the things required is that we tighten the control of poisonous chemical substances. It appears to me the minister and his government do not have adequate concern for these types of substances and the problems they can create in the environment.
That leads to me to another section that I wish to discuss under the Pesticide Control Act, and that is the minister's handling of certain chemicals such as 2,4-D, 2, 4,5-T and picloram. Just before the last election the minister suspended the use of 2,4-D in Okanagan Lake, and the reason given then was that the Eurasian milfoil infestation had gone on for so long they might as well give up on it, although they did apply for permits in Kalamalka Lake and Wood Lake. The Premier looks a little confused at this point, but I'm sure if he discusses this with the minister he'll find out that that's true.
In addition, the water investigations branch applied for permits to use 2,4-D in lakes on the lower mainland and in lakes on south and central Vancouver Island. Fortunately, the pesticide control branch determined it was an abuse of the legislation to apply for permits where Eurasian milfoil had yet to be detected and had yet to be a problem. It does demonstrate there is an empire building up within the water investigations branch that seems to have as its objective the use of 2,4-D wherever they can use it rather than wherever milfoil is a problem. This brings up another problem. In the ministry two different forces are operating: one wishes to use a pesticide, and which is an applicant for the use of pesticide; and the other judges on the merits of using a pesticide in a particular situation.
So in this case two organizations under the same ministry are in conflict, and it becomes a problem. I feel that the water investigations branch should be out of the use of 2,4-D altogether. They should not be applying for permits. They should not be encouraging the application for pesticide permits. They should be out of that aspect of the problem altogether. If the minister and a branch of his ministry are responsible for adjudicating on pesticide permits, then his ministry should not be applying for the permit at the same time. It's a conflict of interest to have two agencies within the same ministry under the same minister, one of which is applying pesticides and one of
[ Page 654 ]
which is adjudicating on the use of pesticides. There is the possibility of conflict, and it should be eliminated.
The other questions I'd like to ask the minister are about the chemical 2,4,5-T. I understand that in the United States the chemicals 2,4,5-T and 2,4,5-TP are still under suspension, and also in one other province in Canada. There are serious concerns in certain areas of the United States that the use of this chemical has caused monstrous birth defects and serious genetic problems. Unfortunately the minister carried on a moratorium on 2,4,5-T in this province until the end of June, and then he lifted it. His reasons for lifting it were that the Canadian government authorities had checked with the United States, analysed their study material and found out it was inadequate. For that reason he has carried on with the use of 2,4,5-T and 2,4,5-TP in the province of British Columbia, even though he has increased the restriction on purchasing and applying the chemical. But the minister has not given us in any detail what analyses Canada has done of the U.S. information, which brought them to the conclusion that 2,4,5-T should be allowed to be used here in British Columbia when it is still under suspension in the United States. Perhaps the minister could explain that and possibly table the studies his ministry has done.
I think the same thing applies to Tordon 22-K. I believe a permit has been granted in the Kispiox o Hazelton area. The appellants are using a paper by Dr. Melvin Reuber against the use of Tordon 22-K, wherein it was indicated in his analysis of Dow Chemical's information that Tordon 22-K does cause cancer, and that any material that causes cancer in one mammalian species is capable of causing cancer in another species, or it should be considered a possible carcinogen for human beings until it's proved otherwise. If it causes cancer in one mammalian species, it should be considered carcinogenic in man unless the proof indicates otherwise. On this basis, the people of the Hazelton-Kispiox Valley area have asked that the use of Tordon 22-K for Canada thistle and sow thistle in their area be suspended.
In the meantime I believe somebody from the Ministry of Agriculture in the province has done a critique of Reuber's paper which has not been made public. It says that his information is balderdash, and yet we have no opportunity to obtain this information from the ministry to send it to Melvin Reuber to be checked out. I'm just wondering on what grounds the minister is intending to allow Tordon 22-K to be continued to be used in the province in spite of the information that has become available recently by Melvin Reuber, who's a pathologist for the National Cancer Institute in the United States.
Will the minister would be kind enough to answer those questions?
HON. MR. MAIR: I presume the appropriate place to start, Mr. Member, would be on the 2,4-D issue. I think we discussed the Pesticide Control Appeal Board and all the rest of that before supper. I think I indicated to you at that time that there are perhaps better ways that we can do some of the things. We'll look into some of the suggestions you've made.
The 2,4-D situation is one of those areas where we had to make a hard decision as to whether we were going to use this herbicide in the control of Eurasian milfoil. We decided we were, but I think the circumstances under which we use it are not commonly understood or known. We will only use it at the request of and with the obvious consent of the local authorities involved. This is the case in Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake. We had a false start, as you possibly know, in Kalamalka Lake. The Vernon city council had a couple of rethinks, but we got it down so that we used it there.
Your criticism of our making applications for use of 2,4-D in lakes on Vancouver Island and other places in British Columbia may be all well and good, except that I think you should understand the motive. We did not make that application so that we, as a ministry, could use it at that point in time. We made the application in the event that a local authority in those waterway areas asked us at some later time to do so in the interest of speed. Time is of the essence, I think you would agree, in dealing with the milfoil problem. It's not something that you want to let take hold if you could avoid it. I agree with you. We were turned down and that's the end of the matter, but I'm only discussing the motives of it now. If, for example, milfoil had got into Shawnigan Lake, and the local authorities had asked us to use 2,4-D in the treatment of that milfoil, we would have been in a position to do so immediately. If they did not ask us to, or specifically asked us not to, no more would have been lost than the time and the effort it took us to appear before the board and get the permit. It may have been that we wasted some effort; however, that's a judgment that anybody can make or not make as they deem fit. But I thought that you should know what the motivation for that was.
Let's deal with 2,4,5-T and 2,4,5-TP separately. Now 2,4,5-T has been rescheduled into schedule 1 of the regulations, and that puts it in exactly the same category as DDT, which has not been used in this province for years. I, frankly, cannot think of an occasion when permission to use that, since it is in schedule 1, would be permitted. It just strikes me as something that would be totally unforeseeable. I just don't see it happening at all.
Now 2,4,5-TP, which is principally used in apple orchards, as the member probably knows, is still being used in the United States for that purpose. It is, of course, in schedule 2, and it must be applied for, and I'm sure the member knows what the conditions are. The situation with the two of them is virtually the same as the situation in the United States. To all intents and purposes 2,4,5-T is banned since it's in schedule 1 and is not going to be allowed for application. But 2,4,5-TP is limited principally to the same uses as in the United States, where the concern was originally raised.
Now on the other matter, I don't want to hide behind the matter of Tordon being before the courts, but, I think, perhaps, the member might agree that we should abide by, or at least postpone, discussion on that until we find out what the courts are going to do with that application which is on public land.
We have made no effort to prevent that being used on private land. We have no information before us to indicate there is any reason why we should change that stand. I say to you frankly, Mr. Member, there is scarcely a herbicide or a pesticide in use that somebody could not raise a concern about, and say, "I think it may be carcinogenic," or "I think it may do that," or "I have reason to believe, having read a paper compiled by somebody, somewhere, this might be the case." The subject is of such worldwide interest that
[ Page 655 ]
it is not very difficult to find authority for almost every proposition. The long and the short of it is that we have had no evidence, hard or otherwise, to give us concern about the application of this particular substance on private lands, and so we have taken no particular steps to avoid its use.
As far as public lands are concerned, as I say, I think the matter is now before the courts. It's under appeal and we will take a look at that situation after the judge has ruled.
MR. SKELLY: I am amazed that the minister would say there's no evidence before them that picloram is or is not a carcinogen when the paper has been tabled by Dr. Reuber of the National Cancer Institute, and is fairly widely available. I would think that the minister, being concerned about the environment and about the health of the people of British Columbia, would insist that the burden of proof is on the pesticide producer or user that it does not cause cancer, or does not harm the environment. That's where the burden of proof should lie. That's the real problem in situations such as these.
The same thing has happened in Kispiox-Hazelton, where the citizens have had to seek out the information, because the government feels they should use pesticides almost without question. It is only when citizens bring up this information that government changes either the category of the pesticide, as they did 2,4,5-T, or restricts its use. The burden of proof should always be on the applicator or the producer of the chemical that it does not cause harm to the environment or human beings.
In the case of Dr. Reuber's paper, which has now been available since he presented it to a conference in Portland, Oregon, a few weeks ago, the minister should have that information. In his paper, Dr. Reuber has taken material produced by Dow Chemical in their analysis of Tordon 22-K, and shown they have misused statistics. He indicates that from material produced in their studies Tordon 22-K does cause cancer in rats and dogs. His information as a pathologist with the National Cancer Institute in the United States is that if a substance can cause cancer in one mammalian species, it can cause cancer in another. Also, the tolerance is zero. One molecule of a carcinogen striking a receptive cell over a latency period which may last as long as 30 or 40 years can cause cancer in human beings,
MR. SKELLY: You didn't understand?
AN HON. MEMBER: No, no, I'm sorry. My colleague said, "You've got to die of something," and I said: "Why?" [Laughter.]
MR. SKELLY: Well, if I'm going to die of something I'd rather have it something other than what is sprayed upon me by the Social Credit government.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Perhaps the member would address the Chair.
MR. SKELLY: To inform the minister as to the total costs of cancer to society, I'm referring to testimony by Dr. Samuel Epstein before the United States Senate. He's a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the University of Illinois. Talking about the failure of the National Cancer Institute to take measures to control environmental carcinogens such as Tordon 22-K, 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, even with the exception of dioxanes or such substances, the recognized annual total cost of cancer in the United States is some $30 billion. There is mounting evidence that the externalized costs, such as the $8.5 billion surveillance costs for workers exposed to the few OSHA regulated carcinogens and the approximately $2 billion Love Canal lawsuits, are substantially greater. So in the United States, if we're dealing with costs of cancer on an annual basis of something like $30 billion to $40 billion a year, many of them environmentally caused, chemicals and substances put into the environment by people such as the British Columbia government and the regional districts, working under the Weed Control Act, pose a substantial financial problem that we are going to have to pay for ultimately through the Ministry of Health.
I urge the minister to take a stronger role in examining the properties of these chemicals and, in fact, even take a stronger restrictive stand than the United States government and the EPA are in making sure that the burden of proof lies with the user of these chemicals and with the producer of these chemicals, prior to allowing them to be used here in British Columbia.
HON. MR. MAIR: I think, perhaps — not with the desire to have the last word on the subject, but just to clear up one or two matters, Mr. Member — the difficulty of the proposition you make is that one is constantly going to be asked to prove a negative, and that is not an easy thing to do.
I might point out that the royal commission on herbicides and pesticides, which you referred to earlier, certainly looked into this situation and did not recommend against the use of them. It recommended the controlled use of them. I guess the ultimate argument that still rages — I frankly don't know why it does, but it seems to — is whether there is a link between smoking tobacco and cancer. There is no doubt in my mind about it, but you can look around the world and you will find medical men who will cast doubt on it, probably because they smoke themselves, or they have a different burden of proof, or whatever it may be. All I am saying, Mr. Member, without trying in any way to criticize the material you have, is that it is not difficult to find support for almost any proposition that you want to put forward in this very interesting and difficult area.
Obviously we don't agree on one of these particular substances, and I guess that's one of the reasons that we are where we are. Maybe that's one of the reasons that people change governments and keep governments in. As for differences of opinion, we've got one there, and so be it.
MR. SKELLY: Well, surely, Mr. Minister, I hope there would be better reasons for changing government than the fact that one uses 2,4-D and the other does not, and one advocates nuclear power or the other does not. However, I think those are probably good reasons for changing the government in this province, and perhaps that's going to happen in a little while.
You mentioned the tobacco program. I think almost every authority that has any credibility in the area and doesn't receive money from people working in the tobacco industry has stated that tobacco does cause cancer. People
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in the industry have recognized that tobacco does cause cancer, but they still like to sell the product.
[Mr. Hyndman in the chair.]
One of the problems is — and again it comes up in Dr. Epstein's testimony before the Senate — that the National Cancer Institute and the government of the United States are deficient because all they allocated in 1977 for research and education for lung cancer caused by cigarettes was $7 million. They probably spent 10 or 12 times that amount to encourage growers to grow tobacco. The problem is with the government, as the problem is with the government here. I would just like to draw that to the minister's attention.
MR. NICOLSON: Mr. Chairman, I defer to the member for North Island for a couple of minutes.
MR. GABELMANN: Mr. Chairman, there are a couple of us back here who wanted to pursue the chemical issue, and then get on later to other issues. It seems to make some sense to stay with the issue at hand just for the next few minutes.
As a child growing up in the Okanagan on my parents' orchard, I remember having a job in the garden, which was to get an empty tobacco can and go down to the garage and pick up, out of a sack, a canful of DDT, and go back down to the garden. With my fingers, without gloves or anything else, I spread the DDT among many of the vegetables in that garden to avoid cutworms.
I remember at that same time most of the tree-fruit growers in that area were using chemical sprays as many as eight to a dozen times a year. I remember that particularly well because I remember how many of my stepfather's colleagues in the Okanagan died from lung cancer in their late 40s and early 50s. A great many fruit growers did. For some reason people didn't understand that the chemicals being used in that tree-fruit industry were very dangerous, and this is only 20 or 25 years ago.
While we've made some progress in banning things like DDT, and while we've made some progress in reaching other solutions for spraying programs, for the most part, at least, in that particular industry we don't seem to have learned the central lesson about chemicals. I worry, as does the member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly), about 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, Tordon and many of the others that are apparently being used quite indiscriminately in many parts of this province.
I started out my comments this evening, Mr. Chairman, by referring to my childhood because I wanted to read a letter from a group of grade 3 students in Tahsis, dated June 28 of this year — a week or two ago. I'm not going to read the whole letter, but I wanted to read one paragraph: "We are told not to pick the wild strawberries and blueberries that grow there" — referring to an area in the bush just outside of Tahsis — "but who is going to tell the black bears not to eat them, the deer not to eat the grass, the trout not to swim in the polluted Malaspina Lake?"
These are grade 3 kids. Who's going to tell the black bears and who's going to tell the deer and who's going to tell the trout? I'm particularly pleased that kids in grade 3 these days do have an awareness of these chemicals. When I was a kid we didn't have such an awareness. But it seems that in this society it's only the kids who have an awareness; the people in authority don't seem to have that concern or that awareness. I think it's a problem into which the government and the minister must make much more careful and concerned study.
I took down the minister's words in response to the member for Alberni talking about 2,4-D in the Okanagan relating to milfoil. I believe he said: "When the government applies for a 2,4-D spraying or application program in the Okanagan, you would do it with the consent of the local authorities involved." I believe those were your words. I would like to ask you whether the same principle applies when a private corporation asks for permission to apply 2,4-D. We had a situation in the Gold River–Tahsis areas where the Tahsis Co. applied for a 2,4-D permit. The regional district opposed the spraying program, yet it went ahead. I believe the regional board was not notified of the spraying application and technically got their protest in too late. Nevertheless, the regional board was opposed to the spraying. The company went ahead, with the effects that I quoted from the letter from those kids from grade 3 in Tahsis. If the government requires the consent or the approval of the local board or local authority involved, should not private corporations who apply also live by the same rules?
I want also in this particular discussion to comment on one other aspect relating to spraying permits. B.C. Hydro, some time earlier this year, applied for some spraying permits in the Nimpkish Valley. Later they were withdrawn and the spraying did not go ahead. I don't want to comment on the spraying application per se, but on the process that now exists. In order to do that I would like to quote very briefly from a letter from the Nimpkish Indian band at Alert Bay who, as you know, have the Nimpkish Valley as their long-time home grounds. They expressed their point of view in this letter to me, a point of view that I share, Mr. Chairman. They were talking, I believe, more of herbicides, not pesticides, but it's quite common that we misuse the word. They said:
"A pesticide-use permit should not precede an appeal hearing. A hearing of all grievances against the issue of a permit should be heard before the permit is issued. After this, hearing appeals should be possible."
Then they said, and this is important too, I believe: "The burden of proof should be the responsibility of the permit-holder, not that of the appellant." This is the third point in their letter:
"Public notice provisions must be made much more widespread. Just a case in point is pesticide use permit No. so and so which escaped our attention until seven days after the appeal deadline. The Nimpkish band, having an historic interest in the Nimpkish Valley...has a right to know when herbicides and other deleterious substances are present in the valley. The whole mechanisms that are in use for notifying concerned people or potentially concerned people are lacking."
That's a problem as well that I'd like the minister to comment on.
The final point in this letter from the Nimpkish band is:
"No person should be put in a position of risk by the activities of another person or group, especially when the use of environmental poisons is concerned. The focus around which the appeal board should
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articulate their decisions should be 'any risk' instead of 'unreasonable adverse effect'."
So "any risk" should be the key for the appeal board to consider. I just wanted to make those comments at this point, Mr. Chairman. I will have some other comments on other matters once we leave this area of discussion a bit later this evening.
I do want to say very candidly, through you, Mr. Chairman, to the minister, that I believe the minister has a genuine concern and a genuine interest in the topic, and I have been pleased by the kind of intelligent response he gives to questions, not just here in the House but in general, relating to environmental matters. It is a refreshing change in general, but I hope he will take the candour and the honesty and the openness one step further and do something.
MRS. WALLACE: If I could continue with this discussion on the use of chemicals in today's society, I think the minister made a very good point when he talked about the fact that you couldn't always be negative. What I want to ask the minister to do is to be positive, to look at alternatives. Unless we start looking at alternatives we are going to be caught in a bind. We have a problem with milfoil, which we're all aware of, and unfortunately the minister has come to the conclusion — and this government seems to have come to the conclusion — that the only available method of control is to use 2,4-D.
Now I think, Mr. Chairman, that we have to concentrate on the other types of control. If we used more of a positive approach to other types of control, and I'm talking about water nets and harvesting and those kind of things that I'm sure the minister is aware of, and if we put more effort into building up a good alternative control program, then the minister wouldn't be caught in the situation that he found himself this year where he had to sneak his 2,4-D into Kalamalka Lake a day early to prevent the protesters from coming out and causing a problem. Those are the kinds of things which occur when you only have negative programs, Mr. Chairman. If this minister got involved with a real honest effort in positive directions, other than just concentrating on 2,4-D, or 2,4,5-T, then we wouldn't be in this position.
Something that is very close to my concerns is the agriculture situation with the apple trees. We don't have an alternative. I'm convinced that's why the minister changed his mind at the end of June. The fruit people said: "Okay, if we don't get permission to treat our fruit trees by the end of June we're going to be in trouble." There is no other explanation, in my mind, why the minister would change his mind at that particular time just at a point when another report was released from the United States that really pointed up the hazards of 2,4,5-T. For the minister to change his mind just at that point, there must simply have been economic pressure from the farm community because they had no alternative. What I am urging this minister to do is to concentrate his efforts and his moneys and his time and his staff to bring in the expertise to find those alternatives that will get us out of this bind. We are in a bind, Mr. Chairman, and sooner or later we are going to come to the point where we recognize that we have to stop using some of these things.
The minister has a copy of this article in Common Sense called "Chemical Madness is Killing Our Country." I sent him this earlier at his request. We've been discussing this matter. It has some very startling information in it. One of the things it talks about is a range-spraying program that was protested very heavily in Arizona. There were a great many protests. Finally, in desperation, this one woman, a Mrs. Billie Shoecraft, had tests run on her own body tissues to find what residues were there, and they found residues of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-TP. despite the manufacturer's claims that the compounds biodegrade in a matter of weeks. Ten years later that same woman died of cancer, and an autopsy showed that those same chemical compounds were still in her body.
That is the kind of evidence that is being turned up about these chemicals. Mr. Chairman, and that is why it is so incumbent upon this minister to find alternatives so we don't find ourselves in a position of not having a program to put in place. We can't just listen to the people who are involved in producing those chemicals, because naturally it is a very lucrative business. The member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly) has mentioned this in connection with smoking. The people who make the chemicals make a fortune and they're going to bring every scientific resource at their disposal into play to try and further the use of those chemicals because it is a lucrative business.
The same report that I sent to the minister goes on to talk about the tests that were done back in 1971. In studies on mice they found 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T were the cause of severe birth defects in mice. Mortality rates ran as high as 74 percent and abnormality rates as high as 100 percent at the upper level. Some of the defects observed include cleft palate, no eyes, no jaw, brain outside the cranium, cystic kidney and club foot.
That study back in 1971 recommended the discontinuation of the use of the ester of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T but it is still the most widely used herbicide in the world. We use it everywhere, particularly 2,4-D.
In 1975 there was a further study done and that study found that the greatest defects were caused by small dosages over long periods of time. And yet that's exactly what we're doing.
In 1976 the director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute estimated that 90 percent of all cancers are caused by environmental carcinogens. Exposure to these compounds is both irreversible and cumulative.
Mr. Chairman, it's rather sad that we stand here talking about whether or not to use these and trying to prove that they are not that harmful or that they are more or less harmful or they are safe to use. What we should be talking about is alternate methods because, until we get those alternate methods, we're going to be caught in this bind. What I am urging that minister to do is to take some positive action in developing research and development to find alternative methods to control the problems that we're facing today.
I was a bit shocked when I picked up a paper recently and found that some American medical scientists have come up with the idea that, if we have lead poisoning, we need not be too concerned because they are now going to put something else into our system that is going to counteract the lead poisoning. You know, Mr. Chairman, I don't think that's the way to go. The way is to keep that poison out of our system in the first place rather than to put another chemical into our body to counteract that and build up goodness-knows-what other kind of complication. We've
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got to take a look at what we're doing to ourselves and to our environment and turn ourselves around, or we're headed for destruction. It's incumbent upon this minister to take those kinds of positive actions. I know he has the concern, I know he has the ability and I would like to see him commit himself to taking those kinds of positive actions.
[Mr. Strachan in the chair.]
MRS. JORDAN: I don't intend to take very much time of the House and I don't intend to pretend that I am an authority on pesticides, as so many people who can almost pronounce the names lead this House to believe. But I would like to say just a few words on behalf of the people of the Okanagan, who, directly and indirectly, have been the subject of discussion this evening. I would like you to appreciate that those people, who are very much involved in the milfoil problem, are perhaps the most concerned people in this province and perhaps more concerned than many of the people on the floor of this House, because they live with both problems. They live with both concerns: how do we handle a very serious weed problem — if you want to call it that — and how do we handle the treatment for it?
I want to give this government and the previous minister and this minister full marks from the people of our area for the way this whole situation has been handled. Every care has been taken that is humanly possible and of which we have knowledge today. I won't go into the total history, but it was this government and this very ministry that set up an independent board of three of the most competent people we could find in Canada to investigate the whole management of milfoil. They were given free access to money for any program that they wanted to undertake, to travel anywhere they wished to travel, in order to investigate all facets of the problem and possible treatments. They will tell you to this day, Mr. Chairman, that there was no political interference and there was no pressure put on them from anyone in this government.
These people came back, made their recommendations and travelled throughout that area, not just once or twice but several times, holding public meetings and answering all questions to the best of their ability. And I attended most of those meetings. It might have been very nice if some of the people who are so interested in this subject had attended those meetings. Nothing was avoided. Where they had concern, they expressed concern, and the people accepted this. At the same time the government was seeking every alternate method they could. This relates to mechanical methods, biological methods and others.
They put together a recommended package, which was paid for in total by this government but was not implemented unless there was local approval. Every community which was to receive the benefit as well as the concern of this program had the right to speak out. And it was their elected representatives who made the final decision.
In the Vernon area all hearings were well attended. We have, Mr. Chairman, ongoing citizens' committees which are out on those lakes monitoring what is going on and reporting to their MLA, to the citizens and to this ministry. Those citizens are not out waving placards, and they are some of the strongest conservationists that we have in British Columbia. They are exercising responsibility and showing concern.
You cannot run away forever from decisions such as this minister and this government have had to make. Every precaution has been taken in terms of the ultimate water supply. In fact, it's going on at this time. All applications are being heavily monitored. All the resources of this province and this ministry are available at any time to those people taking part in that program and to anyone who has other concerns.
The one point that does concern the citizens of that area is that a few people, who, granted, are very concerned but tend to let their concern overwhelm rational thinking, are the ones who are creating the problem. They are the ones who are bringing undue publicity to our area, and this is unnecessarily hampering the livelihoods of people. We want to hide nothing. We want everything on the table. We don't like to be the subject of every pseudo-scientist who comes along, because there are long-range rippling effects on the livelihood of many people in that area.
I would just close by thanking all the members for their interest. I invite them to come to the Okanagan, to take part in observing the program, to speak with a great deal of responsibility when they address us, and to remember that the local citizens of the area I have the honour to represent fully support, albeit with concern, this program. They will be delighted, as will this ministry, if we can find alternate means to chemical use. In the meantime they are not afraid to face life. They are doing it responsibly, and they would like us to support them in a responsible manner.
MR. COCKE: I'm delighted to follow the member for North Okanagan. Having property in the Boundary Similkameen area on Skaha Lake, and having had it for some 20-odd years, I was diving the other day in my lake and finding milfoil just like everybody else in the area, knowing full well that that milfoil will break the surface within the next few weeks, I'm just as concerned as that member from North Okanagan about what's happening to that beautiful recreation area, but I couldn't agree with her less.
She speaks of phenoxy herbicides as though she knows what she's talking about. What that member is saying is that they are going to have some effect. I'll tell you what effect they're going to have: they're going to kill this year's crop — great news! — so that this year's crop provides the nutrients for next year's crop. Where does the milfoil go when it dies? It sinks to the bottom, rots and provides the nutrients for next year's crop. If you want proof of that statement, go down to the Tennessee Valley, where they've been fighting milfoil with phenoxy herbicides, 2,4-D, for years and years and have got nowhere.
There is a way out. I admire the member for having suggested that that was a marvelous group that looked into the situation. I first appointed the same group to do some work for me some years ago.
MRS. JORDAN: Did you take their recommendations?
MR. COCKE: Some of them.
If they overlooked — and I believe they did — the only way to control Eurasian milfoil, which is with its natural predator.... I agree with the minister when he says that you can't harvest it out; it's far too big. It would cost an absolute fortune. You can't get rid of it with phenoxy herbicides, 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, or anything else. You can only control it
[ Page 659 ]
with its natural predator, which is grass carp. Grass carp are a threat to some of our fish and wildlife people in this province; they're worried about what they might do to the food chain. The fact of the matter is that they are vegetarian. I think we must take our chances with grass carp and go with them. I have talked to some of the foremost biologists in this country; as far as they're concerned, there is only one way to control that weed and that is by its natural predator. Grass carp will eat nothing but Eurasian milfoil if that's what's available. They'll resort to other forms of weed if there is no Eurasian milfoil available, but if there is milfoil available they will eat it. Isn't it a lot better that we go the natural way?
What happens to that fish? Well, it grows to 70 pounds. It's a bit coarse, but it's not nearly as coarse and muddy as the normal carp in our lakes. All over Europe it's a first-class eating fish. It's a brand-new industry, a brand-new look at a way to control Eurasian milfoil. I don't care what you say, you are not going to control that weed with phenoxy herbicides or any other kind. It's impossible, because what will occur is that the weed will drop to the bottom. I'm not giving any kind of value judgment as to whether it's going to cause cancer — it might — or whether it's going to be poisonous, or whatever it might do. I'm just saying it is not a realistic approach to attacking the problem of Eurasian milfoil in those lakes. I have as much to lose as anybody else. I have 600 feet of waterfrontage on Skaha Lake, and it's one of the worst affected.
AN HON. MEMBER: Capitalist!
MR. COCKE: Sure, I'm a capitalist in that respect. And when we get good socialism in this country, I'll give my property to all the people. But until then I'll play your game. It's something I learned a long time ago: you never want to swim as a minnow with a bunch of sharks.
HON. MR. MAIR: I will, if you don't mind, deal with the last three or four speakers in reverse order.
I want to answer the member for New Westminster's (Mr. Cocke's) concerns, and the method by which he would handle the question of milfoil — using grass carp. We can argue about this all day long and all night long, and it's not going to get us anywhere. But I think the member would agree that the grass carp is not without its problems, not the least of which is that the federal fisheries people wouldn't let us put grass carp in there if we wanted to — and I have that information direct from them. Quite apart from that, as the member well knows, grass carp have an adverse effect on the trout and char which inhabit the lake. They don't eat them, but they have an adverse effect on their spawning grounds and have had for years. So you're running a grave risk of getting rid of one problem but introducing another.
MR. COCKE: There is no fishery in those lakes.
HON. MR. MAIR: Unfortunately, Mr. Member, that's simply not true. It may be true of Skaha Lake, but it's certainly not true of the other lakes we're talking about. I don't think the people at Okanagan Lake are quite prepared to give up their Kokanee fishing and even their giant rainbow fishing despite the problems they have with them — mercury and that sort of thing. In any event, I say to you, Mr. Member, it's probably idle to argue about it because the federal government, who have control over fisheries, are not going to let us do it even if we wanted to. So I think we probably just have to forget about that.
I'd like to answer your question and one of the questions from the member for Cowichan-Malahat (Mrs. Wallace) by pointing out that of the control methods we use for Eurasian milfoil, 75 percent of our effort is mechanical and 25 percent is chemical at this point. Talking about control is different than talking about elimination. I would be the first one to agree with members opposite that you cannot control Eurasian milfoil with 2,4-D. If you get it early enough in the lakes where it has just entered into the system you can get rid of it in the first stage. Once it gets hold, however, it's idle to consider using 2,4-D.
I'd also like to deal with a couple of things the member for Cowichan-Malahat said. She implied we had somehow tricked the demonstrators on Kalamalka Lake. I thought we had too, and when the press asked me about it, I said: "Well, I guess if I were going to go and do that, that's the way I would have done it." But it turns out that we didn't do it that way after all. The only time we could get it in appropriately was very early in the morning and the demonstrators misjudged when we were going. There really wasn't the mens rea that you and I thought we had. I should point that out to you.
Let's get our letters and numbers straight on 2,4,5-TP and 2,4,5-T. As I indicated before, Madam Member, through you, Mr. Chairman, 2,4,5-T is the bad-news one. We have now moved it up to schedule 1. That's the one you were concerned about, and that's the one that I can't see any way in the world that it will ever be used in British Columbia.
Now 2,4,5-TP, which is the one you're talking about that's used in the apple orchards and so on, is the one they still are allowing in the United States of America. The reason the decision was made as of the end of June, while I wouldn't deny the fact that the orchardists wanted to have some answer in time for their season, was because the moratorium expired on June 30. I had to either place a new moratorium or I had to come up with an answer. Bearing in mind the information we had from the United States and from the federal government, we felt that was the right decision to make.
You suggested I said we shouldn't be negative. I agree with that. What I really ought to have said is that you can't prove a negative. That's one of the difficulties when you're dealing with the onus of proof. You're asking the person who is going to apply a pesticide or herbicide to prove, presumably beyond any reasonable doubt, that that herbicide or pesticide can't possibly hurt anybody. There's no way you could use a pesticide or herbicide under those circumstances. Some would say: "Well, that's good, because you shouldn't." However, that's not the law as it stands. It's not the law that was recommended to us by the commission you very rightly appointed when you were government.
It's just as I say; it's not the fact. If we're going to allow herbicide or pesticide use in British Columbia, we have to have some standard other than the onus of proof being on the applicator and being beyond any reasonable doubt. I think, quite frankly, that we have got a pretty good system. We've got an independent board that, incidentally, have given us as many adverse rulings as positive rulings. By any means it isn't just the government that wishes to apply.
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We're probably the least of the applicants in front of the board. But I think as often as not the people who have applied to use pesticides or herbicides have got second prize. I think that gives a good indication that they're doing a good job.
I'm moving into the comments made by the member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann), moving back upwards as I go. I don't think that you were in the chamber prior to dinner when I dealt with the question of the procedures that we now have and whether we should make some changes. The member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly) suggested a number of changes in technique, which I think enough of to want to take a long took at. I think I said to him before dinner that it may be difficult to prevent the use of a herbicide or a pesticide at all times between the time the permit is granted and the appeal is heard. We should have some discretion. The reason I say that it's difficult to do it at all times is that you're going to have emergency situations develop. You're going to have situations where in the opinion of any reasonable person the issue is not of such a serious nature that it can't wait a week or two or whatever it takes. But perhaps we should go so far as to give the administrator the power to determine that and determine that a stay in its use ought to be put into effect pending the time the appeal is heard.
I think that probably has got a lot to it, and I certainly will undertake.... I won't undertake to do that, but I'll undertake to look at it very, very seriously.
The member for North Island made a point about he position of a company when they wanted to apply 2,4-D. I presume you were referring to B.C. Hydro and some of the applications they make on rights-of-way and that sort of thing. But I suppose it doesn't really matter, because the rules are the same.
Let me tell you what our procedure is as a government, what the procedure is if you happen to be a company, and then we can go from there, if you wish. When we want to make an application as a government for the use of a pesticide or a herbicide, let's say 2,4-D, we have to go to the Pesticide Control Appeal Board and we have to get a permit. We're subject to the same rules of appeal as everybody else. We have to get that permit. As a matter of policy, however, in the use of 2,4-D in waterways we have elected only to do that when we also have not only the consent but the invitation of the local authority to do so. That's a policy of my ministry and of the government.
If a company wants to do that they have to go through the same hoops, in the sense that they have to go to the board and they have to get a permit. They obviously don't have to go and ask the regional district, but the regional district has every right — and, indeed, I suppose, in many cases an obligation — to take an appeal or take whatever action that they want. I suppose we'd both be quite satisfied with the situation if we backed up a little bit and went to your suggestion a moment ago. If the board itself had the power to stay the use of it pending an appeal, then they would be, unwillingly perhaps, in the same position that we as a government have willingly put ourselves in in terms of getting regional district approval. It would amount to the same thing. If we do look at the suggestion that you have made, or more particularly the member for Alberni has made, we will accomplish the very thing that you're looking for.
I might say, and this may be damning by faint praise, we probably have the best controls on herbicides and pesticides in Canada. Certainly I'm more satisfied with what we do, in addition to what the federal government does, than I am with just what the federal government does. A great many provinces in Canada simply rely upon the federal government and the national register, and we're not prepared to do so. I have been asked on many occasions to do so.
The member for Cowichan-Malahat (Mrs. Wallace), of course, and myself know many members of the B.C. Federation of Agriculture very well. I have been urged by many of her friends and mine to do just that — to keep my nose out of what is the federal government's business, in their view, and let the national register be the determining factor. I'm not prepared to do that. I think we have a provincial responsibility, and I may not exercise that responsibility in a manner pleasing to everyone in this chamber, but I certainly am going to exercise it in a manner that I think is appropriate.
MR. SKELLY: I certainly support the minister in his last comments. I would hate to see this province go back, and I would hate to see the minister refuse to take any initiative in putting greater restrictions and controls than the federal government on some pesticides. I have never been happy with what happens with the Petawawa federal experimental station where they test pesticides. In the case of orthene they bring up the people from Standard Oil and Chemical to provide the chemicals, and also to provide the staff to do the analysis. It seems like inviting the fox into the chicken coop. Naturally the reports that come out of the pesticide centre in Ottawa favour in general the chemicals that are tested there, because most of the staff and most of the chemicals that are tested are provided free of charge by the chemical companies.
That's an extreme conflict of interest that should be drawn to the attention of federal authorities. I'm sure I know a member for Comox–Powell River who is going to do just that in the event that they have an opportunity to get into session back there. His name is Ray Skelly. That's something we've been working on together and hopefully some changes will be made there.
Now the minister talked about the problems of proving the negative. I realize that there are problems associated with that and I don't expect to see it adopted as policy that a pesticide producer must prove that it has absolutely no harmful effect to the environment or human beings. It simply can't be done. It's too much of a long-term problem. It's simply too difficult when you have carcinogens that have latency periods of from 20 to 30 years. The pesticide would never appear on the market. But where the danger has been demonstrated in other mammalian studies, then the burden of proof should be on the producer of the chemical to prove that it's entirely safe for human beings. According to many authorities and cancer specialists, what's true of one mammalian species is true of another as far as carcinogens go. So I think the burden of proof should be on them.
I would like to talk a little bit about the public relations program that the 2,4-D empire goes through, especially in the Okanagan Valley. I have been up there, for the information of the lady member for North Okanagan (Mrs. Jordan). I have been up to the Okanagan Valley and seen
[ Page 661 ]
the problem and talked to a lot of the people associated with the problem, including municipal officials. And I have been in touch with people from the Okanagan Water Basin Board, et cetera, who felt last fall, at any rate, that the program was a runaway program as far as the costs were concerned and that it wasn't proving anything.
I know the kind of public relations program they go through and I know that a municipality can turn down the 2, 4-D program in the first place and then have this PR trip laid on them and approve it later on. We had a gentleman from the water investigations branch come down to Port Alberni recently to talk to us about the benefits of a Eurasian milfoil control program in Sproat Lake. He came into the room dressed like a teenage idol with his shirt open to his belt, wearing gold medallions and dancing around at the front of the hall. Needless to say, a lot of people in the hall were impressed by that fact alone. Then he said to us: "I've been accused by some people of being an alarmist." And he showed a film called An Alien Invader. It was about Eurasian milfoil in the Okanagan Lake and it showed all these people being sucked into this milfoil.
It was a straight public relations scheme to try to get the people in the Alberni Valley, especially in the Sproat Lake area, to adopt the program, including the 2, 4-D. He went through every possible control measure, with the possible exception of the Amur grass carp. The result — in the newspaper reports — was that the meeting unanimously approved the use of 2, 4-D to control milfoil, which didn't exist at that point in Sproat Lake. Then the regional district came out and approved the use of 2, 4-D as well and on it went.
Then I started getting letters from people at the meeting who resented the very fact that this guy made the presentation in the form that he made it and asked me what authorities I could consult to try to fight this program. So it wasn't exactly what you would call unanimous support for the 2, 4-D program.
I am 100 percent in favor of combating the possibility of Eurasian milfoil in Sproat Lake. There are ways we can do it. Fortunately the ministry is involved in some of those ways right now, checking boats coming across on the ferry, checking boats at some of the stations in the Okanagan Valley and in areas where there is a milfoil investigation — a darn good idea. I think that program should be stepped up and more funds should be allocated to that aspect of the program, possibly, than to the 2, 4-D aspect. In that way I think we can prevent the spread of the infestation of Eurasian milfoil. Unfortunately one of the problems is that Canada geese appear to carry this material around with them and deposit it in lakes throughout the province. That's got to be a bit of a problem, and I don't know how you solve an almost natural problem like that. But maybe that's not our problem to solve.
I do resent the kind of public relations program that some people in the ministry are using to try to spread the use of 2, 4-D to combat Eurasian milfoil throughout the province, even in areas where it doesn't exist. I would like to ask the minister to emphasize the positive in this case, to get people out checking boats, monitoring lakes and making sure there isn't infestation.
You have the power under the Pesticide Control Act to declare an emergency and to remove the application of the Act from a certain area of the province where, in the opinion of you and the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council, an emergency does exist. I think that's the best procedure for going about it. If you feel there is a new infestation, then possibly you should consult cabinet, declare an emergency and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent a further infestation.
I think one of the problems with the Amur grass carp is that there have been no isolated studies done. Set aside a lake in the Okanagan Valley, or somewhere else in the province, and purposely infest the lake or pond or whatever with Eurasian milfoil. I don't think any studies have been done on the life cycle of Eurasian milfoil in any waterway in British Columbia. I don't think we know how Eurasian milfoil reacts to other substances other than 2, 4-D, or how it reacts to grass carp, or how other species react, because we've never done that kind of isolated life-cycle study. Now certainly that is an expensive proposition and it's a longer-term proposition, but over the long term it is probably going to produce much better results and much firmer results.
The member for North Okanagan (Mrs. Jordan) mentioned the three wise men, Oldham, Powrie and Mackenzie, and the research that they did. But the research that they did wasn't conclusive in favour of 2, 4-D. The problems they've had with 2, 4-D and Eurasian milfoil in the Tennessee Valley Authority have resulted in the use of that chemical for over 25 years and no eradication — no solution to the problem. And it's the same in almost every area in which it has been used, so that other areas, such as Wisconsin, are looking at alternatives to 2, 4-D and alternatives to chemical control.
I think this minister should be an advocate for the environment. He should not simplify ecosystems; he should not add new poisonous chemicals to the environment. He should be an advocate for the natural way of doing things and he should be looking at alternatives to chemical controls and to controls that are known to have undesirable side effects.
HON. MR. MAIR: I have a brief reply to the member for Alberni — through you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I think we've got to recognize — and I think we both do — that any pesticide or herbicide is designed to have a harmful effect on part of the environment. That's what we have it there for. The trick is to see that it doesn't harm non-targets. We're all trying to do the same thing, and I am appreciative of the suggestions that were made.
On the second point, when we're dealing with natural methods of combating this problem, let me remind the member for Alberni that the carp is hardly a natural inhabitant of the North American continent. It was introduced, as my history tells me, by a German in the eastern United States back in the nineteenth century — perhaps it was even the eighteenth century — to remind him of his days at home in Germany, and since then it has been a damn nuisance all across North America. We spent a lot of money in Fish and Wildlife trying to poison lakes and get rid of not just the carp but other predator series as well. It's not a predator, I agree — its problem is that it messes around with the spawning grounds of other fish — but we've been spending a lot of money trying to get rid of those things. And while I would love to find a way to get rid of Eurasian milfoil that would satisfy you and me, I don't know that introducing the carp any further to the various
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water systems of British Columbia — no matter what kind of carp it may be — is going to be particularly helpful.
MR. NICOLSON: Mr. Chairman, for three and a half years going on for four years, we have supposedly had a Ministry of Environment, when, in fact, we have had several different ministries all under one minister. Now we have the most recent sort of amalgam, or almost an alloy, which doesn't necessarily mix, as I think was very well pointed out by the member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly).
I would hope that the minister would look at the various powers which he has and try very quickly to look at those powers which he has which will enable him to work and operate as Minister of Environment. Frankly I think he does have some very strong powers — if he is going to use them. It might mean almost the abuse of power in the short run. But I would hope that the minister would look at the Environment and Land Use Act very carefully and consider, in some of the extraordinary circumstances that some people are finding themselves in, using those powers until something perhaps a little more temperate and more appropriate could be brought into this House to create a real Ministry of Environment.
I was very concerned about the way in which the proposal to use herbicides in Kootenay Lake was brought in. I'd just like to relate to the minister the way his letter was treated when it arrived at city council. It was photostated and sent out to each member of council; a council meeting was held, and one or two people had read the letter. I think there was an election on at the time that this went out, and a couple of people, for obvious reasons, didn't want to rock the boat, being involved in the provincial election.
I was very surprised to see one other person vote for that action, and when I went after that member of council about it and just asked some questions to find out some information, he said: "You know, I should really be taken to task on this, but it was one time that I hadn't had the time to go through all of the agenda before the council meeting, and I didn't know what was up."
What I would just like to say is that I am sure that this was the very small amount of consideration that was given by the Nelson city council when they did give unanimous approval for emergency measures, including the use of 2, 4-D, should milfoil show up in Kootenay Lake.
It is rather interesting that it seemed that the ministry was ready to go ahead without holding public hearings or anything else, whereas in other instances where municipal entities such as regional districts had opposed use of certain herbicides in the past, their use was allowed over and above those objections.
What I would like to talk about might cover a few different areas, but I would like to relate these various areas to an effective Ministry of Environment. One problem which I am sure affects all rural members is the problem of garbage, and where to put it — the city of Nelson has been dealing with this problem ever since I moved there in the early sixties. They had a city landfill site that was only supposed to be used for another six months, and that went on for about 15 years. Then the regional district went looking for landfill sites and finally came up with a place that met all the objections. They were going to have to haul it what I thought was a terrible distance, but at least it was a solution. That was not allowed to go ahead because the city of Nelson wouldn't go along with it.
Recently the city of Nelson — I've already spoken to the minister about one group of people — went to private contractors. Various people had different pieces of land, and these pieces of land happened to be in the midst of rural residential areas. Now when the suitability of these sites is considered, they are considered under thoroughly technical parameters and limitations under the Pollution Control Act. The PCB reviews them, and they are informing people that they will judge the suitability of the site by virtue, I guess, of proximity to waterways, perhaps the stability of the site, the soil testing and various other things. But not within their parameters is the fact that many people live contiguous to the area. So as a purely technocratic response, people are left out there sort of hoping that the application will fall on these technical grounds when, in fact, when you really think about the environment, the environment is the thing in which people live. When you've got people living in an area and somebody is proposing to put a garbage dump in it.... In two of the areas just outside Nelson the people, quite frankly, if it does pass the technical criteria, will engage in civil disobedience.
Why do we have to go that far? Why can't we just recognize the fact, almost at the outset, that having such a thing in proximity to residential habitation is just not going to wash? I know that we can talk about having to bury it every day, and having burning only every three months, and various other things, but that simply isn't going to satisfy the needs of people.
What I am suggesting here is that the parameters under which the PCB judges such an application are too limited because they overlook the very obvious fact that people live right next to this small acreage. Many people live around it, and they are not going to consider things like bears and other such things. They are limiting, according to my information, their considerations just to soil suitability, proximity to creeks and waterways, and so on.
There are other instances where a person's environment is endangered. There is another group of people living just outside of New Denver, and a mine is being drifted right underneath their homes. It starts at a lower elevation off their property and it goes underneath. About a year ago, I believe, there was a blast from one of these operations and the disturbance brought down a slide which landed right in one person's garden.
People feel very helpless because their enjoyment of property seems not to be affected by the remedies that are normally used. What the ministry can do, of course, and what the minister can do in situations such as this is to resort to the Environment and Land Use Act, which does give him powers to act in a rather primitive way, I suppose. He certainly doesn't lack for powers to protect people, but just referring to the PCB guidelines, a case like this wouldn't even be considered.
The minister had an on-site inspection of the problem at Lemon Creek, and I would just like to know if there will be a study done by the water investigations branch there. I think that also the Salmo River should be looked at. We should start to take action all over this province with some of these problems that we try to shuffle off and pretend don't exist. A lot of them came about as a result of bad land-use planning. Some of the mistakes that were made done by date back to the turn of the century, I suppose, in
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terms of diversions and things which have caused problems, but I would hope that the ministry would not try to sort of shuffle these things aside. The water investigations branch did do some work in the Salmo River, for instance, in 1974-75 in terms of a study, and then some of the work was implemented in about 1977 and it did have some very useful results.
So one of the things I would like to say to the minister is that I would hope that he would try to use some of these disjointed powers that are found in various branches or departments that have come into his ministry and try to make them work in terms of creating a very good and sound and enjoyable environment for residents, particularly in some of these unorganized territories which can fall to things which aren't normally covered by legislation, other than something like the Environment and Land Use Act.
Mr. Chairman, I'd also like to mention the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority and I would hope that the minister would take a very careful look at it. I'm disturbed in a couple of ways. I frankly don't like the way in which the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority has been run in the past. Every year something comes up and it really hasn't operated in a professional manner. It has operated very much in a vacuum. It's somewhat improved inasmuch as Frank Shannon was appointed to the Authority, but now I understand that the provincial government doesn't have an appointee on the Authority, so there is really a lack of directorship. There always has been, right from the very first instance.
While I don't like that, it doesn't mean to say that I don't support the concept of the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority. The budget is up this year to $131,000 from $129,000. I think if the minister will check he will see that the budget was probably last increased by any significant amount in 1974. This level of support really hasn't increased a great deal. It's my understanding that this pays for the operation management. I know that a lot of investment takes place — Ducks Unlimited pours money into it — but that goes into capital projects, really. It's my understanding that this year they closed down the campground, and I had complaints about that. I drove by just a couple of days ago. Unfortunately I didn't have time and look and see if it was in operation. It would seem that this level of funding must be inadequate and should be increased.
[Mr. Rogers in the chair.]
The most recent thing I ran into, which I was a little bit disturbed about, was after kicking all the trappers off the the area, staff went out and started trapping. I know pelts were sold and moneys realized; I checked into this. It looked to be very irregular. It was answered by members of the staff. I'm informed that everything was all above board. Still, the way it was done — and I'm not going to take up a great deal of time tonight going into it — didn't help the image of the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority. It's another symptom of something which would be remedied if we had a good, active, functioning directorship for it, or if it were put back under control of the branch. I know that's s difficult because the federal government is a partner. It simply isn't run in a proper and professional manner.
I'd also like to know from the minister how much of the $2 million for salmonid enhancement is actually coming from the federal government and is appearing in our estimates as an expenditure? Last year the amount spent by the provincial government was in the neighbourhood of $300,000, and I would wonder if that is about the same.
HON. MR. MAIR: I didn't get the last point. I'm sorry.
MR. NICOLSON: Last year, as I understood, about $300,000 of that was actually provincial funds, and the rest came from matching federal funds.
Again — it's perhaps symptomatic of some things that have happened — for more than two years we have been without a regional director of the fish and wildlife branch in the Nelson office for the Kootenay region. This means that the fisheries biologist, who has been acting all that time, has been doing those duties, and one of the duties must be suffering. Either he's not doing a complete job in his fisheries duties or as regional manager. I believe, in fact, that he's been offered the position, and he does want to be in fisheries. So there has been a vacancy there, I believe, for about two years, and I think that is really serious because it's at the top position in the region in Fish and Wildlife.
Also, I'd like the minister to consider his announcement of new regions for the Environment ministry. I would hope that forestry, or the grazing branch of forestry, would come up with the same boundaries so they could be co-terminus. One of the problems is that a wildlife biologist who wants to talk to the forestry person involved with grazing, if it happens to be in Rock Creek, which lies in our environment area but could be outside the forest headquarters for that area, could be in Kelowna or someplace. Instead of going downstairs to talk to this person, it means somebody has to travel about five hours by car or by plane. So one would hope there could be an improvement in boundaries.
Many things could be raised, and it is difficult when ministries have been changed; the fish and wildlife branch has been changed many times in the past three or four years. I would hope we would start to pursue a very active program of enhancing certain spawning streams, particularly for Kokanee, along the west arm of Kootenay Lake. In the last two years, they've had to restrict Kokanee fishing because of concerns about the escapement. It's obvious to anyone who observes such things that the number of spawners has dropped off terrifically. The ministry has the opportunity; they have gone ahead and purchased property at Redfish Creek, and they can get on with this.
While I say some of these things pertaining to the Nelson area with which I'm familiar, I'm sure that many of these same concerns could be expressed for other regions of he province. There are about six areas, some of them coming under various subheadings, and I thank the minister for his attention.
MR. DAVIS: First I'd like to congratulate the minister on the job he's doing, and also congratulate the minister whom he succeeds. We have done a first-class job in protecting our environment, and I believe British Columbia has shown the way in many respects not only in connection with land-use planning but the protection of its wildlife and so on.
Being the Minister of Environment is a big job, particularly as the concept of environment is so all-embracing. In the United Kingdom, for example, when they first established the U.K. Ministry of the Environment it not
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only covered fisheries and what goes for wildlife in the United Kingdom, but it also covered air quality pollution of waters, industrial pollution, urban sprawl, housing and even transport. All of these were under the umbrella of the Minister of the Environment in the United Kingdom. While that ministry has been trimmed somewhat, the Minister of the Environment in the United Kingdom is still very much a member of the inner cabinet, and the concept of environment in that country — where much of the original natural environment has been destroyed — is regarded as very important. The aim is to protect the human environment and living conditions for people. The aesthetics of the U.K. surroundings and so on are all embraced in the concept of environment as far as the organization of the environment ministry is concerned.
In this country, particularly in the provinces, the responsibility has been narrowed somewhat because the administrative load is so great. Still, the minister in this province, for example, is expected to have an answer when it comes to tankers offshore. He is expected to have some kind of answer when it comes to fallout from a nuclear plant in a neighbouring country. He is, at least, expected to have a view in these areas. While he, and indeed the whole government of the province, can't do much about some of these things, they must do their utmost to try and influence future events.
On the west coast, I personally think that there's a lot to be said for what I'll term a west coast water quality agreement between Canada and the United States, one which would also necessarily involve the province of British Columbia and the state of Washington. I say this largely because we do have — and it took several years to negotiate — a Great Lakes water quality agreement. It's a treaty between Canada and the United States. The signatories are not only Canada and the United States as national governments, but also the province of Ontario and five of the individual states bordering on the Great Lakes.
It was necessary; it was essential to have the states and Ontario participating because the states and certainly Ontario have controlled pollution to a much greater extent than the national governments did. They controlled industry, economic development, industrial location, municipalities, cleanup budgets, and they subsidized municipal budgets for treating sewage, runoff rainwater, the natural runoffs from agricultural land, and so on. It's only with the full participation of a province and the neighbouring areas of the United States that a water quality agreement can work. I think that British Columbia might consider advocating, admittedly, a new kind of agreement, an agreement of somewhat the same character as the Great Lakes water quality agreement here on the west coast in respect to our saltwater areas which are so precious to us.
The necessity of proceeding with the Great Lakes cleanup — and it was a cleanup, and is a continuing cleanup — was obvious. They'd already been badly polluted. The damage in large measure was done, whereas we on the west coast have a relatively pristine environment. Our water quality agreement on the west coast would-be essentially one of protection or prevention, in a sense, rather than cure. It also would involve a new role for the International Joint Commission, which has so far confined its activities pretty well to freshwater — to problems across the international boundary line on land. It has not extended itself into saltwater areas, even though the international boundary line continues on out through the Strait of Juan de Fuca on this side of the continent.
In other words, Mr. Chairman, British Columbia might well take the initiative and help to create a new kind of water quality agreement which would, in effect, get two levels of government — national and the state and provincial — to agree at least to minimum standards for industrial effluent, for discharges from cities and towns into rivers and streams and on into the Puget Sound, on into the Strait of Georgia, on into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It would give us some influence over where oil refineries are located, some influence over industrial plants located across the line in the United States, and some little say in where oil tankers operated — at least the standards in which the tankers are built and to which they are operated.
I am not suggesting that this would be easy. The Great Lakes water agreement was a very obvious need that took half a dozen years to negotiate. It was finally signed in 1973. But it exists and it was a first in the world. I think we could have, conceivably, here on the west coast a first in the world in saltwater. Canada and the United States have worked together to help clean up the Great Lakes — a rescue operation, really. Surely they could work together here in these adjoining waters to basically maintain the environment in its clean state.
I have been talking about water problems. This is a great challenge. It's an international challenge but I believe it's one in which British Columbia as a province could participate. Without British Columbia, the controls, as I said, don't exist over pollution from land entering water. The national governments can go so far but they certainly can't solve the entire problem by themselves.
I think we have a bit of an air quality problem. Perhaps I can focus onto a group of industries — the smelting, refining, power-producing industries. During 1978 there were hearings, and towards the end of last year the Pollution Control Board issued certain guidelines or objectives, as I might call them. They are very stringent. They're the toughest anywhere in the world, and certainly by far the toughest on this continent. These are B.C. standards, if I can refer to them as that, but they're essentially guidelines. The problem that I see is that they describe a range of possibilities. They don't set a definite level, and therefore those industries are facing uncertainty in their forward planning. The range goes all the way from what I would refer to as zero pollution with no discernible effect on the surroundings whatsoever — that's a possible requirement on these industries — to what might be referred to as the maximum amount of pollution that the local air environment would assimilate. Anywhere in that range may be the point at which the director of the Pollution Control Board says that a particular smelter or refinery or coal-burning power plant may have to design its cleanup facilities — in other words, not pinpointing a particular standard.
Perhaps I could identify the costs in respect to, say, the Hat Creek coal-burning power project. The latest estimate I've seen of the cost of that project is about $1.2 billion. To meet the most onerous tests set up by these standards would require the expenditure of at least $300 million more. This would not only mean we would have by far the cleanest coal-burning power plant on this continent or indeed anywhere in the world, but would probably add sufficient to its costs to render it uneconomic, at least relative to Hydro developments in the far — north, which in turn have their
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environmental problems — perhaps flooding industrial land or interfering with fisheries, Indian land claims and so on.
My plea here really is that the Pollution Control Board be more specific, that it also be more reasonable in the sense that it require that the local development be able to use much of the assimilative capacity of that local environment in other words, not damage the local surroundings unduly — but not require unusual, exceptional, very expensive methods of cleanup, especially when they involve mostly equipment that has to be imported from other countries.
Cleanup in industry, by and large, doesn't cost much. In most industries, pollution control or abatement — the cleanup of air, water and land — doesn't involve more than 1 or 2 percent of the gross value of the product of that industry. In other words, industry in almost all cases can well afford to control pollution, protect its surrounding environment and make our human environment pristine and certainly very clean. But in these few industries I've mentioned, the requirements of extreme management are so expensive that I believe the Pollution Control Board should be more specific and indeed more reasonable.
The biggest single problem, as I see it, is the problem of the saw-off: between jobs on the one hand and a very clean environment on the other hand. The United States has recently come out with new standards for coal-burning power plants. Their standards are essentially a compromise to what I loosely referred to as jobs, energy policy and environmental protection. Where environmental protection tends to run head-on into energy policy, the environmental standards tend to give way somewhat. I'm not really suggesting that that sort of thing happen. I believe that our new standards, at least at the top end, are tolerable in our power utilities, smelters and refineries. I'm simply asking first that those standards be definite so that the industries can plan ahead and secondly that they be reasonable.
On the solid-waste disposal side we've heard a good deal about burning wood waste, garbage and so on. I hope the Pollution Control Board is reasonable in that connection. There is another saw-off required there: we could have solid wastes accumulating simply because our air pollution requirements are so onerous or because our water pollution requirements are difficult to meet. The Ministry of Environment will have to look at saw-offs there as between air pollution, water pollution and the pollution of the land. A good deal of judgment is required. We're learning all the time. We know a great deal more now. It's much easier for industry to be clean now than it was even a few short years ago. Points of view have changed a great deal. Awareness of the environment has increased considerably.
I well remember when the Columbia River Treaty was being negotiated. In those days the then CCF Party was all in favour of the so-called McNaughton Plan. The so-called McNaughton Plan built a dam at the international boundary line on the Kootenay River and flooded those waters back into the upper Columbia and Lake Windermere, and virtually flooded the whole of the Rocky Mountain Trench. The McNaughton Plan was to divert all of the floodwaters of the Kootenay into the upper Columbia. Indeed, the end result of the McNaughton Plan was also to divert all of the floodwaters of the upper Columbia at Mica into the Okanagan and Thompson River systems. That was a very popular scheme not only with the CCF but with many Canadians. It was an all-Canadian power project; it was to drop all the floodwaters to the sea in Canada. That was a scheme which was espoused by many. All it shows is that in those days people had little regard for the wildlife resources of the mountain trench, the scenic values there or the people who were living there who had properties and farms. It was a very mechanical view of things. It was almost engineering a la mode, with very little regard for the biology and the environment of a large part of British Columbia. To the credit of those who were responsible for developing the Columbia River Treaty, the McNaughton Plan was not proceeded with, even though it was a so-called "all Canada" plan. Basically those waters still flow and will continue to flow in the natural channels rather than being diverted from one river basin to another.
Willy nilly we have a development which from an environmental point of view, is a better development than the diversion or multiple diversion plan referred to in those days as the McNaughton scheme. The NDP today is now very sensitive, as it should be, and as the Social Credit Party should be, about the protection of the environment. It just shows that within about 15 years we've all grown up a little bit in the sense that we regard not only the production of more kilowatt hours or more industry as the be-all and end-all of our existence. We've learned a great deal. We are affected very much by our environment, and the quality of our life is determined largely by it.
I suppose the main point I'm trying to make is that the Ministry of Environment, nationally and provincially, is faced with a great challenge. It's supposed to look ahead; it's supposed to be concerned not only with wildlife but with industry and jobs to the extent that the Minister of Environment mustn't be ''Mr. No" all the time, but it is a very important ministry and I think it's well managed. I think it has every intention of doing a first-class job of protecting our environment in this province, and so I certainly hope this minister's estimates go through quickly.
HON. MR. MAIR: Mr. Chairman, I thank the member for North Vancouver–Seymour (Mr. Davis) for his thoughtful speech and the ideas that he has given me. I gather that they were more in the spirit of suggestions than specific questions. I would like to mention that one of the problems we have in the Pollution Control Board in setting rigid standards is that a great deal of flexibility is required, not only in the day-to-day operation of the board with new schemes that come across its desk, but in that we have a great problem with what I might call grandfather situations, where we have pollution situations that existed long before we even realized that they were pollution situations and long before we put into place any legislation to take care of them.
I agree with the member that we have a golden opportunity to work with the federal government — I might say personally I have a golden opportunity, because the federal minister is a long-time personal friend of mine and we share a lot of the concerns that the member has spoken of. We don't need to have any Thames Rivers to clean up; we have the opportunity of keeping them clean before they get into that state.
Going back to the member for Nelson-Creston (Mr. Nicolson), I must say I hope that I get all the questions that you put to me, Mr. Member. One of the problems I have is I can't read my own writing, but I try very hard to start from beginning to end. You mentioned in the beginning about the
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council in Nelson and the question of 2, 4-D. I'm sure that you have advised the council that they can undo that decision if they wish. This is not cast in tablets of stone. If the city council did not pay proper attention to the decision and did not treat it as seriously as it ought to have been, it ought to rethink it and come up with another solution or at least redebate the matter.
On the question of garbage, I'm aware of the problem that the city of Nelson has had, and I have before me a number of notes with the whole history of the situation which, I'm sure, the member doesn't want to get back into now. Suffice it to say that if the Ministry of Environment were in the business of having to provide solutions to these problems, we would never be able to do any kind of a good job, because we would be saddled with the responsibility that belongs elsewhere.
Let me explain. One of the more serious problems we have right now is with my own constituency in the city of Kamloops, and their waste disposal problems in the Townsend River. We simply have had to say, through the pollution control branch and the board particularly, that they can't dump any more effluent in, they just cannot go any higher than they've already gone, and we will not extend their permits. Now if I had to provide them, as a ministry, with the answer as to what they were going to do with that dilemma, then the tendency would be not to put them in that dilemma in the first place. I think it's much better that the Ministry of Environment be put in a position to put people in that dilemma situation. The government of British Columbia may have to come back and form part of the solution in the long run — that is, the government as a whole — but in the meantime I think I would be seriously handicapped in doing the job I'm sworn to do if I had to at the same time tell people how they could solve these problems that we have raised for them.
I did have a golden opportunity to take a look at the Lemon Creek situation and the Slocan Valley and Slocan Forest Products situation. The trip I took was somewhat unrelated to my duties as Minister of Environment, as the member well knows, but in any event I did have a good chance to take a look at it. I am advised by my deputy sitting next to me that I have an extensive memorandum on my desk concerning Lemon Creek. I told the people when I was there that I thought the situation certainly could do with some tending to, and I meant that at the time. I hope to be able to give you some news in a few days, after I've had a chance to consider what my ministry has told me about that.
The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority. I gather in that particular discussion that the member was having with me — through you, Mr. Chairman — that he was more making comment than asking any specific questions. If you have got some specific questions — or specific solutions, I suppose — I would, of course, be very pleased to hear from you in that regard.
The member for Nelson-Creston dealt with the Salmonid Enhancement Program, and this gives me an opportunity to clarify what I think is a commonly held error. The $2 million that the provincial government has budgeted is our contribution toward the Salmonid Enhancement Program, and does not represent any federal funds at all. It represents about $1.5 million toward the program itself — which is 5 percent of the federal amount, which is $25 million — and then there is an additional amount of $700,000 or $800,000 for administration and allied things. So the $2 million is not a recycling of federal money. That is our share of it; the federal money is put in in a different manner.
In the member's own riding we do have two vacancies. I am advised we have an environmental manager vacancy and a regional director vacancy, and that they are both in the process of being filled at this point. We know we have to do it.
I wish I could remember the word that the member used for districts that are the same districts. That is a wonderful word. Please write it to me, because I like to improve my vocabulary. I am just going to talk about coinciding districts between various ministries of government. I agree with the member that it would be very helpful if we could, throughout the government, always have the same districts regardless of what the ministry is. The problem is that the degree of service that we must deliver from ministry to ministry varies, and the impact that we have in different ministries is different. In ELUC we have tried to have all the same districts, and we're one of the first, along with Highways, to break away from that to some degree — simply because we have got management problems. One classic example is the question of Kamloops administering the Okanagan. That has been found to be totally unsatisfactory, so we've had to divide that in two. We try as best we can to not let that interfere with administration and not create the problems that the member has suggested. But, as I say, there are those difficulties that do arise.
On the question of Kokanee, I hope to be able to announce to the House — and if it's not in session announce to the public — new methods of funding which we're working on now which will enable us to do a great deal more in the preservation of habitat, in the acquiring of habitat and on the whole question of enhancing the fish as well as the wildlife habitat. We're working very hard on this. We've had a lot of suggestions, not only from your area, Mr. Member, but in other areas of the Kootenays and, indeed, from all walks of life as to how we might do this over and above the traditional methods of financing those things. I hope we'll be able to have something to say on that in the very near future.
MRS. WALLACE: I don't want to belabour the chemical debate, but I would like to correct the minister. He said I was referring to 2, 4, 5-T; it was 2, 4, 5-TP. The case in point was a Mrs. Shoecraft. It was exposure to 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-TP where she developed cancer in the tissues.
I want to turn to a topic I've discussed many times with this minister. It is the Cowichan estuary. The task force to review the development in that estuary was first established in March 1977. We still have nothing official on hand. We have many rumours; we have many documents; we have many leaked documents and many contradictory documents. It's such a different situation to 1974, when a task force was just as all-inclusive, just as broad in its approach to the matter. Yet it was able to come in with a report in a few months and to make a recommendation. Within a month we had a minister who acted upon that recommendation.
We seem to have found that the result of that decision and that minister's action have been more or less disregarded. At the time that former recommendation was instituted with the first task force, certain rules and regulations were set down for industry going into the Cowichan estuary. The letter sent by Doman Industries,
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signed by Mr. Frumento at that time, dated February 6, 1975, listed the commitments they were undertaking. It talked about a total sawmill operation, about certain dredging, pollution control measures, noise abatement, air emission abatement, temporary log storage. That was the one thing where there was an addendum for a matter of a few months, that it would be doubled from 20 acres to double that amount. Log movements, temporary log storage and future plans for dredging were simply within the boundaries of that present proposal. It gave the mill capacity; great details were given in this letter. As far as expansion plans were concerned, it was indicated at that time that the expansion plans were nil.
Was interesting to note that in February of 1977, the same Mr. Frumento went before the municipal council and indicated they actually had stages one, two and three, and the testimony that was given before the council is very interesting. The question was asked: "What construction plans were originally submitted to ELUCT?" Only stage one was presented, as ELUC only wanted to know what their immediate plans were. Doman Industries was anxious to proceed. They did not want any delays as a result of processing stage two plans. It was never stated that a chip hog-fuel loadout facility would be provided as these materials were to be trucked out. The response was that Doman simplified their submission for the sake of expediency. They now needed this facility to provide an alternative market to dispose of chips and hog fuel. It was stated that if the overall plan was submitted to ELUC it would probably have been turned down. ELUC approved one set of plans and the council another.
Then Mr. Frumento said: "Doman received tacit approval. They did not want to overcomplicate their submission."
I think, Mr. Chairman, that those kinds of remarks indicate the crux of the problem that we're facing now, because ELUC accepted at face value the request of industry to go in there. They agreed to abide by the regulations that were set out by ELUC, and now we find that they had planned to do other things than they had advised ELUC. We have now this second task force which is taking so long to come out with a report, and we have, as I am sure you're aware, a couple of leaked documents — at least I assume they're leaked. They arrived on my desk one day in my Duncan office, and I have no idea where they came from. But I am very curious about these documents because one is a report called an "executive summary" and the other one is a proposed land-use plan for the Cowichan estuary.
Now this executive summary, which I understand from some members of the task force had more or less been discussed by that task force and more or less had the approval of the members, establishes three different areas.
First, it relates to the various potentials within the estuary, and it comes up with three types of areas within the estuary. There is a restricted zone, where it says that no further development is to be permitted. That particular area is the intertidal area. It says that such a precautionary approach is recommended to protect fishery resources, as fish stocks may be declining and impacts on habitat are apparent. Potential alternative sites for industry have been identified. Incidentally, there was a report of some 11 alternative sites, and this particular report identifies about 21.
The second zone
is the conservancy zone. Development within this zone is limited to
agriculture, recreation, wildlife habitat and tourism. Use is to be
compatible with existing agricultural capabilities. It talks about all
that area being within the agricultural land reserve.
Then the third area is the assessment zone, which would be open for possible development.
Now, you know, that might be an acceptable sort of a document, Mr. Minister. But this other one which came along with it, and which some members of the task force didn't seem to be familiar with, is a proposed land-use plan for the Cowichan estuary. It talks about the same three zones, Mr. Chairman, except it says that it would accept the restricted zone — that's the inter-tidal area, where nothing is supposed to happen — with four specific exceptions, and those exceptions are pretty major. Those exceptions would allow some major expansion in that restricted area, quite contrary to the thoughts behind the original — if this was the original — executive summary.
I'm trying to find the specific points that they are talking about, but they are fairly major. They want log handling — well, four very major changes, very major industrial endeavours within that restricted zone.
When it comes to the conservancy zone which was to be limited strictly to agriculture and recreation, they talk about one specific exception there. And that's a transportation corridor right through it, which, you know, is completely harmful to the kinds of activities that are to be there recreation, wildlife, and so on.
The one seems simply to defeat the other. While it is based on those three zones, the second report comes up with recommendations to exclude or allow certain things in those zones that defeat the whole purpose of the recommendations of that first report.
Now I don't know whether these are official documents or not, Mr. Chairman, but they must have some basis in fact. The problem is that we've been going blind for over two years and wondering what's going to happen. In the meantime — you and I have discussed it quite recently, Mr. Minister — there has been a firm of consultants hired to look at the log handling and the industrial needs of the estuary. The chairman of the committee has indicated that he has this report. but it's not available to the public at the moment.
The time has just gone on too long. Nothing is happening, and I can tell you that the people of the Cowichan Valley are mighty concerned. It's no good for industry, and it's certainly no good for the people who are involved and concerned about environmental protection, People need to know the directions they're going. It leaves the credibility of the whole task force, the minister and the Environment and Land Use Committee very much in question because there has not been any action taken, or any response. I can't see why we have this delay. Surely the facts have been found. Certainly the local input indicated that nearly 70 percent of the local people were completely opposed to any further development in that estuary.
We in the Cowichan Valley cannot understand the delay. It certainly became an election issue. The people of the valley felt that they should know what this government was proposing to do about the estuary before they went out and cast their ballots. Since we're discussing your estimates, the estimates of this ministry, we should know what your ministry is proposing to do about that estuary. We
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need to have the opportunity to discuss it, and if we can't get any reports, it's impossible to discuss it intelligently. I'm having to read from press releases and from reports that may. or may not have any authenticity.
I have a report from the government of Canada that I know is authentic. The fisheries economic advisory staff of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans pointed out the value of the fishing industry to the Cowichan estuary, the optional or potential values of the tourist industry there, and the aesthetics. It wasn't able to gather figures on the industrial side of it because those figures were just not available. In the face of what they did gather, they are very concerned about any further industrial development there.
I have a report by the industrial interests in the Cowichan Valley relative to Island Shake and Shingle establishing themselves there. Then another report done by a credible consultant indicates there are many flaws in that first report. It certainly is not the sort of situation one would desire to have when coming into this Legislature to discuss such a crucial item.
The House is getting very noisy, Mr. Chairman. I suspect members are anxious to leave. Do you want to answer now?
HON. MR. MAIR: The answer to the problem is not an easy one, because this is a very difficult question. I think I've given ample evidence, Madam Member, that I have a very keen interest in this problem, a special interest in it. It would be very easy to come up with a quick decision. But it probably wouldn't be the right decision.
I want you to know that I now expect the report to be on my desk within the next week or ten days. We've now got all the material together, and as soon as I can possibly do so after that report is on my desk, I will have an ELUC meeting. I don't want to delay it, but I want to make sure it's the right and best decision I can make. I can only say to you, Madam Member, that I have done everything humanly possible to see that all the evidence is in and that the Cowichan River estuary is dealt with properly. That will have to prove whether I'm right or wrong.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
Hon. Mr. Curtis filed an answer to a question on the order paper.
Hon. Mr. Curtis filed the report of the British Columbia Heritage Trust for the year 1978 with attached auditor's report, and the Provincial Capital Commission statement of receipts and expenditures up to March 31, 1979.
HON. MR. McGEER: I ask leave to table two documents. Earlier today during second reading of the omnibus bill on education the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) stated that no letter with respect to independent schools had been circulated by him during the election campaign. I have a letter here signed by G. Lauk. It may not be the first member for Vancouver Centre, but it was written during the election campaign to say: "If the NDP is elected as government, the present legislation will remain in place." Along with that is an item by the two candidates in Vancouver–Point Grey, circulated to all the members. I ask leave to table this with the House.
Leave not granted.
Hon. Mr. Gardom moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 11 p.m.