By Debbie McBride, The Delta Optimist June 9, 2010
You should be outraged to learn that Delta has cut off its nose to spite Metro Vancouver.
It's no secret our mayor and council have been at odds with Metro Vancouver over its control of what happens with green space under the new Livable Region Strategy and Metro Vancouver's reluctance to build waste-to-energy garbage incinerators to burn our garbage. I have attended meetings where I have heard our mayor and Coun. Scott Hamilton slag not just Metro but also the communities in the lower Fraser Valley that are reluctant to have the pollution from the incinerators.
Whatever your position is on those two issues, there is a far more important and frankly disturbing power play being used here. An environmental issue of international importance is being used as a pawn in this game and should be a concern to those of us in Delta worried about how our municipal government is representing us.
After 20 years of lobbying, a proposal to finally and formally request Burns Bog receives a Ramsar designation was before Metro Vancouver's board of directors. Yet, surprisingly, this proposal was put on hold at the vehement insistence of our very own mayor who is chair of the Metro board.
A Ramsar designation is hugely important in raising the international profile and recognized importance of an area. It provides long-term protection in a way no other can.
Ramsar is the name of the town in Iran where in 1971 the first of modern global intergovernmental treaties that became the framework for national and international cooperation for the conservation and protection of wetlands was agreed upon.
It's not a designation that is easily obtained and for obvious reasons, governments are often reluctant to invoke it. The designated area is protected from development and any side deals that may harm it, like changing the designation of Delta-owned land in Burns Bog from environmentally sensitive to industrial.
Sounds like it's a perfect fit for Burns Bog, doesn't it, and yet there was our mayor standing directly in the way of that designation. Why?
Her actions absolutely boggle the mind, especially after hearing Lois Jackson tell us how she has worked so hard to protect Burns Bog. In fact, a lot of people have worked very hard to get this Ramsar designation, no one more so than Eliza Olson of the Burns Bog Conservation Society. She and many others have worked diligently for 20 years to get this formal request brought before government and they are shocked at the actions taken by our mayor.
Jackson is using the bog conservation covenant as an excuse to block this designation, yet at a meeting attended by Olson in March, Delta refused to invoke the covenant to block the construction of the South Perimeter Fraser Road.
So here we are: Delta uses its muscles to block something residents have been begging for and would put the bog in a state of absolute protection, so it can say to Metro, "You're not the boss of me." Outrageous.
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