Changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act mean a number of projects in the Shuswap will now go ahead without federal assessment.
What confounds us even more is the rationale given by a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency spokeswoman: that the changes will affect only projects that are small and pose little or no risk to the environment.”
After all, isn’t the whole point of an environmental assessment to determine if a project poses a risk to the ecosystem?
How can governments, and the citizens they serve, make an accurate determination of potential impacts without such research?
The environment and the many small ecosystems of which it is composed can be incredibly diverse and filled with complexities. Like throwing a small pebble into a pond, a small change could eventually develop-wide ranging ripples.
A few of these developments, including the West Beach proposal for the mouth of the Adams River and the Old Town Bay development in Sicamous, have already proved to be contentious in the region. Citizens are asking questions about what impacts these proposals would have on fish, wildlife and the native flora and fauna.
This is not to say that all development must be stifled, but these projects deserve careful review of their impacts before proceeding.
While these projects may seem low-risk to some bigwig sitting in an Ottawa office building, they are anything but for the people who actually live here and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be, of these proposed projects. To us they are anything but little.