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Melamed takes a stand on climate change

Councillor unwilling to participate in regional air quality plan if provincial government won’t do its part too

Councillor Ken Melamed will not volunteer for a regional air quality management committee until the province shows it is truly willing to address climate change.

Melamed made his stand at Monday’s council meeting after a presentation by representatives of the Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection. The ministry is working to develop Air Quality Management Plans as a way to address all regional emission sources which impact the quality of air.

While that is worthwhile work, said Melamed, other provincial actions work directly against air quality management. He pointed to the cancellation of BC Rail’s passenger rail service as one, a reluctance to support the Kyoto Accord as another, and putting a cap on transit funding as yet another example.

"It seems kind of counter-productive," he said.

Melamed said he would only participate if and when the provincial government lifts its cap on transit funding.

"I’m not saying we shouldn’t do this," he said, only that he was not willing to volunteer as a matter of principle.

He explained that the province won’t commit to an action plan on climate change but at the same time they are approving highway expansions and trying to double tourism in the next 10 years – both of those actions contribute to climate change.

"You can’t have your cake and eat it too," he said.

Though the corridor’s air shed is not as polluted as air sheds elsewhere in the province, there is the very real possibility it could get worse in the coming years without preventative action.

Cora Hallsworth, a representative of the Sheltair Group Resource Consultants who presented to council on Monday, explained that it’s easier to protect clean areas before the air quality worsens, rather than fix dirty air sheds.

"It is critical to keep clean areas clean," she said.

The biggest contributor to poor air quality in the corridor is vehicle-based transportation. Those transportation emissions are only expected to grow as tourism and the population increases. And so, the province proposes a regional approach to the issue.

The Air Quality Co-ordinating Committee, made up of area stakeholders, will be charged with developing and implementing a management plan by the end of 2005. The municipality is interested in leading the development of this plan.

The presentation to council was followed this week by a national report entitled Shattering the Myth of Pollution Progress in Canada, reported on CBC’s Web site . The report, released Wednesday, said Canada has more pollution than it had a decade ago. It also condemns the government and industry for not doing enough to address the pollution problem.

The online news story also states that though emissions have decreased on a per source basis, the number of sources overall had increased over the past 10 years.