Trust's Bill 48 motion gets UBCM nod
Gulf Islands Driftwood, Thursday, October 02, 2003
By Gail Sjuberg
Local government politicians from around B.C.
rallied last week to support an Islands Trust-sponsored motion
asking for withdrawal of the province's proposed Bill 48.
Unanimous support was given to the resolution, presented to
the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) by Trust chair David
Essig. "To have all the other areas support us in this, I
think that's fantastic," said Salt Spring trustee Kimberly
Lineger, who raised a red flag about Bill 48 and other provincial
aquaculture policies along with Trust staff at the Trust Council
meeting in June. "I think the unanimous passing was a really
clear indication of how the municipalities and rural districts
feel about it, so I'm hoping the minister [John van Dongen]
takes that to heart and doesn't proceed with the legislation."
Bill 48 — the Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Statutes Amendment
Act, 2003 — would transfer "right to farm" policies to Crown
foreshore and could override locally adopted zoning restrictions.
With aquaculture considered a farm land use, Bill 48 could
see finfish farms in Trust area waters, which is currently
prohibited by local zoning. (Shellfish aquaculture is permitted
in some shoreline zones.)
"Our islands are totally surrounded by shorelines, so this
is a major issue for us," said Essig. "Coastal communities
put a lot of energy and thought into shoreline planning at
the local level and they rely on it for many reasons. It causes
a lot of problems when the province overrules the local efforts."
Sharon Bywater — a member of Salt Spring Island Residents
for Responsible Land Use, the group organized to oppose the
sablefish hatchery at Walker Hook — was thrilled with the
UBCM vote. "I hope the province's ears will be open and that
the provincial government will listen to the communities,"
she said. "I think communities have a right to choose which
industries they participate in. We're the ones who have to
live with the impacts on our community, and the larger community
that will be impacted by aquaculture."
Bywater said proposed Bill 48 should act as a "big wake-up
call" to citizens whose voices are not being heard when it
comes to province-wide legislation, including Bill 48 and
the "working forest" initiative. "I don't think the people
who voted for the Liberal government thought this would be
the end result — that they're voices wouldn't be heard."
Lineger is also feeling optimistic because of a recently
reached agreement between Trust Council and the Agricultural
Land Commission (ALC). It covers public consultation, resource
sharing, inter-agency communication and decision-making processes
for areas of mutual interest. "In conjunction with the letter
of understanding with the ALC and [the Bill 48 resolution],
I think we have a chance, at least, of working far better
with the ALC and protecting agricultural land from undesirable
Essig was a bit more cautious, noting that while the UBCM
support is "significant," Bill 48's ultimate fate will still
be determined by the provincial legislature next month. He
urges people to express their opinion in writing to the Minister
John Van Dongen and their MLA.
The UBCM convention ran in Vancouver September 22-26.