Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The multiple shades of 'No'

Anti-IPP rally in Kaslo, British Columbia. Photo Damien Gillis

In a previous post, I talked about BC's "independent power producer" (IPP) scheme. A column by Mark Hume in yesterday's Globe and Mail captures well the shift in the public mood regarding this river privatization business.

Hume has spent time reading some of the public comments posted on the BC Environmental Assessment Office website regarding the Glacier/Howser project in the Kootenays, and he has reached the conclusion that "people are more than a little opposed".

I myself have spent part of last weekend helping Lee-Ann Unger from the West Kootenay EcoSociety read through the thousand or so public comments posted on the EAO website regarding Glacier/Howser. We tallied the number of submissions in favor and against that project.

The batch I was assigned contained 242 letters. I counted 239 letters opposed to the project (98.8%), and 3 in support (1.2%).

Against all expectations, that work was anything but tedious. It was actually very empowering. Not because of the clerical nature of the task I was performing, but because of the material I was reading.

I didn’t know it was possible to say ‘No’ in so many different ways. They came in all sizes, shapes, and forms. Some letters were pretty long, others were two-liners, some were professional mini-reports complete with bullet points and appendixes, others were hand written on flower motif paper. Some came from seniors, students, first nations, business owners, engineers, environmentalists, doctors, local residents, city people, immigrants. It was like standing right inside the Canada census.

I invite everyone to randomly read some letters from the EAO website. Then you will know what I am talking about. And if you happen to hit one of the 3 letters in my batch that support the project, the beer is on me!

The people know about the IPP scam, they understand it, they are informed, and they are mad. And I thought I was one of a handful fighting those private river projects, when in reality there was an entire army marching with me.


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