Climate dominates local news and politics

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

This week the city of Halifax joined Vancouver in becoming the second Canadian city to declare a climate emergency. According to media covering the announcement, it’s largely to stress that climate change is real while considering how the municipality will make changes to its plans.

While it’s hard to say whether there will be any real benefit or detriment from such a proclamation, it is a good opportunity to take stock. In the South Cariboo local politics and news have been absolutely dominated by the issue (albeit somewhat indirectly at times). While the words “climate change” may not have gotten tossed around much, it’s hard to pick an issue that would even come close to the attention and effort that’s been spent in relation to forest fires. Now it’s difficult to say how much exactly of a contributing factor climate has played in the wildfires seen in B.C. in the past two years, and some have argued that forest management plays a major factor, but it’s hard to deny that in 2017 the months of June, July and August were exceptionally dry.

Furthermore, even just locally, there has been an abundance of presentations by experts warning residents that wildfires seasons such as the ones in 2017 and 2018 are the new normal. With one presentation ominously named the “Era of Megafires.”

For the past two weeks, a clearcut on a district-owned property has been front and centre. Now, the issue has been somewhat hotly contested but rarely if ever has the argument been presented that more fire protection isn’t needed. Usually, when government spends money on anything, it’s not long before some folks come forth complaining that government shouldn’t be spending money on whatever the issue at hand is.

A prime example was a $0.59 per $100,000 on the net taxable value of land and improvements for properties in Cariboo Regional District electoral areas G, H and L with funds going towards the cemetery in Nov. 2017. A number of people were vocally displeased with the tax despite it amounting to less than a cup of coffee for most people. That perspective has also always provided vocal opposition to both a pool or a rec centre expansion.

When it came to clearcutting a lot for fire protection this didn’t seem to be a prominent response. Obviously, it can be argued that the district is making money off of the logs and it’s hard to deny that. However, on Tuesday council decided to use hand treatment on part of the lot instead of clearcutting it. While there’s clearly still a cost associated with that, it’s hard to believe they would get the kind of revenue off of it that they would have had with a clearcut.

You can make up your own mind as to what you take away from that but it’s certainly interesting that cost has rarely been brought up (at least as far as the public goes).

If nothing else, you can probably expect climate-related issues (even if somewhat distant at times) to continue to dominate our local politics and news.

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