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Last month Auditor General George Morfitt released a report which said drinking water was at risk in much of B.C.

Last month Auditor General George Morfitt released a report which said drinking water was at risk in much of B.C., largely because there are seven ministries and two agencies which share responsibility for drinking water resource management, but no lead agency whose job it is to protect this fundamental resource. Last weekend the Vancouver Sun revealed an internal Parks ministry document which said B.C.’s parks system is in crisis because funding isn’t keeping up with the creation of new parks and the increased activity in parks. The problems include water too polluted for drinking, sewage systems that violate waste management regulations and access routes that are dangerous. At Monday’s council meeting the province’s confused efforts to regulate commercial backcountry recreation surfaced again, in the form of a letter from one operator asking council for support of his application even though it is on land already under a commercial recreation tenure to another operator. The picture painted by these three reports suggests there’s no one responsible for and no clear policy looking out for British Columbia’s greatest physical asset, its land. There are many who have an interest in our land — each of the seven ministries and two agencies that share responsibility for our drinking water, for example, have a specific job with respect to the land. But who is responsible for ensuring that the land is used in a way that is in the best interest of us British Columbians or us Whistlerites? There isn’t any one person or agency, and that’s where the system first broke down. Now, some of the ministries that have had a say in land use decisions are so underfunded that they don’t have the same clout as other ministries when they go to the table to argue their positions. Parks is an example. The provincial government has created hundreds of new parks in recent years, but funding hasn’t kept pace to ensure that parks are properly maintained. Parks is now a "poor" ministry. Protection and rehabilitation of streams for fish is still overseen by the Environment Ministry, but the actual work is largely left up to volunteer groups and service clubs. The solution to this mess is for the provincial government to step forward and decide to either appoint a lead ministry, reorganize the bureaucracy so that the various departments and ministries communicate with one another, or transfer the decision making authority to local or regional governments. The present situation threatens to ruin the B.C. landscape.