|North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice
spoke on the topic of theGreat Bear
Rainforest on Wednesday during
the afternoon session of the Legislature
Ms. Rice, speaking as part of the discussion on the Provincial Government's Bill 2, hailed the recently concluded negotiations as a tremendous achievement.
But continued to warn of the dangers of industry encroaching past some of the proposed development areas of the large coastal region set aside for the agreement.
I'm proud today to rise and support Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest agreement act. This is a tremendous achievement. The Great Bear Rainforest agreement has been a great achievement for First Nations, for environmental organizations, for local communities and the forest industry.
I know that we on this side of the House are proud to have played an important role in starting the process when New Democrats were in government.
This agreement shows how important it is to have full involvement of First Nations when determining the future of B.C.'s environment, resources, culture and economy. I applaud this agreement and look forward to further examples of where we can have this type of relationship-building and agreement-making throughout our province.
Calling on her travels through the region over the last 20 years and noting that the area is found as part of the riding she has represented since her election to the Legislature in May of 2013, she recounted many of her observations on the natural balance of the region and its importance to the First Nations of the region.
Early on in her presentation she reviewed some of her writing on the topic, providing an overview of an editorial that she composed on the importance of the Great Bear Rainforest and the vision that many had through the years for its future.
She also reviewed some of the controversial moments of the past from the region and touched on some of the issues that are still of concern to her when it comes to future use of the region.
Taking time to mention issues related to trophy hunting, the need to monitor those that travel through the area and how the province's cut backs to the Ferry Service in the region, continue to have an impact on the potential for more visitors to enjoy the natural environment of the coastal region that has now been protected.
She saluted the work of the Guardian program along the coast and called on the province to offer support to and take advantage of the work of the Guardians in the Great Bear Rainforest, noting that the Kitasoo have much in the way of data to share with the provincial government, if they would only seek out their guidance on the issues.
The MLA also brought the topic of protecting the marine environment into the conclusion of her address, noting that a large number of the residents of the Central Coast had concerns over marine planning for the region, in particular as it involves the potential of increased ship traffic through the area.
We need marine–land use planning. It needs to be together. It needs to be jointly addressed. That would mean talking about oil tankers and increased ship traffic if LNG does come to fruition.
The member opposite today went on and said: "Say yes to Enbridge." Well, the people of the Great Bear Rainforest said no to Enbridge, and that should be honoured.
You cannot have this protected site, cannot say that you care about First Nation values, cannot say you care about the wildlife, ecosystem and economic values of the Great Bear Rainforest and have oil tankers plying the Inside Passage. It's not possible. We need to respect that decision.
Ms. Rice's comments were wide ranging and covered a number of themes as she moved forward to deliver them. something that the Government side of the house drew attention to by the time that she had finished her twenty five minute minute address.
At the conclusion of her address, one government member expressed some bewilderment at the tone and direction of her commentary, leaving some on the government side of the Legislature to wonder if she actually was in support the creation of the Great Bear Rainforest.
You can examine the full presentation from the Wednesday House Archives here starting at the 1530 point.
The Video of her twenty eight minute presentation can be found through the Legislature Chamber Video Archive for Wednesday afternoon it runs from 15:32--16:00.
For more items related to her work at the British Columbia Legislature see our archive page here.