ASK Salt Spring Welcomes Adam Olsen - Clean Air and a Green Recovery?

The ASK Salt Spring Zoom session last Friday with MLA Adam Olsen as our special guest, began when Adam shared his concerns about social distancing and the relaxation of our self-isolation. Can we learn behaviors during these more-relaxed outdoor months that will help us in the coming cooler months when we are forced indoors? Can we learn to take control of our own space and keep this space when we need to move indoors again?

Question: A unintended benefit of COVID 19 has been cleaner air. What should BC and the provincial government immediately do to sustain this improvement in air quality?

Adam and Sonya have written a green (not Green) recovery document detailing ways to invest that will produce a net positive for both the economy and the climate. Although it is not yet ready to be widely shared, this nine-page document will be released soon.

When asked what the government will do concerning our environment, he predicted that it would become harder and harder for the government to ignore green recommendations - and their justifications will get continually more difficult to make, requiring them to use using more and more convoluted logic.

Two days after he and Sonya submitted their 9-page green recovery document, they met with green economists. There, the conversation moved beyond the environment to include a recognition of the impact of this pandemic on our most vulnerable workers - women, undertrained workers, and all races. While job training is an option, the larger issue has to also be addressed: if a work environment is toxic and unwelcoming (driven by outdated prejudices), workers will neither thrive nor prosper. Those in the workforce need to be educated to contribute to a healthy - emotional as well as environmental - workplace.

We learned that a 116-acre plot of land at 701 Cranberry Road in the Agricultural Land Reserve including Roberts Lake is on the market for $2,850,000. If sold to a private owner, it could be logged to 3 metres of the lake and dammed, impacting the drinking of 200 Beddis Water District residents depending upon Cushion Lake.

In addition to the lake and forest, there is a hay field. Could Salt Spring acquire this land to both protect our precious watershed as well as producing needed-grain to enhance our local food security? Adam responded that the government does not have the money to buy it. He asked us to check out the new CRD Agricultural Land Trust. Not wanting to pass the issue off to another elected official, he said that he would love to be a part of a conversation with Gary to explore acquiring this property.

When asked about the Landowners Transparency Act, passed May 16, 2019, Adam said that the registry is available to the public seeking to get land ownership information. In addition to the transparency it affords everyone seeking information about who owns what, it is an important law that limits the potential for money laundering. The disclosure requirements in the law for land transfers will make it far more difficult for private companies to transfer property back and forth among individuals, hiding their identities as well as large sums of money.

The conversation shifted to the fragility of our taxation system. According to Adam, other countries are not as vulnerable. So much of our taxes go directly to the Province. In his opinion, it would make a huge difference to communities if they got back even a small portion of the sales tax they generated. He felt that it is unfortunate that, while so much of the money generated by communities continues to goes to the Province, the Province often does not deliver on the services promised.

Adam spoke of very serious governance issues that need to be discussed. (As two of many examples of problems, too often, no level of government takes responsibility, and bylaws are not enforced.) Instead, it is a standoff with our leaders refusing to even consider the fundamental changes needed to do things better. It would not be a comfortable conversation, but, in Adam’s opinion, elected officials have to put their politics aside long enough to do their jobs and figure out solutions to these serious problems. Political calculations are stopping these conversations, but Adam is working hard to address this in his riding. Stay tuned. . . .

Tired of Zooming about? Beginning this coming Friday, June 12, ASK Salt Spring will be welcoming islanders to socially-distanced gatherings in the United Church Meadow every Friday from 11-1 during the summer.

Chairs provided; bring your favorite beverage and sweaters and/or sun hats. The meeting will move to the Portlock Picnic Pavilion if raining.

June 9, 2020 12:21 PM

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