Protesters demanding to keep B.C. parks free of industrial activity have gathered on the front steps of the B.C. Legislature this afternoon.
They were there to deliver a petition signed by more than 166,000 people to Minister of Environment Mary Polak.
They are asking the government to revoke the Park Amendment Act, which was passed in March of this year and allows companies to conduct industrial research in B.C. parks.
Based on the research findings, corporations could later apply for the provincial park boundaries to be redrawn.
That’s one reason environmental groups are calling on the province to scrap the proposed amendments.
“This is very serious. There is no park in B.C. that is now safe from industrial development,” says Gwen Barlee, policy director with the Wilderness Committee.
For Marlene Smith with the Friends of Strathcona Park, today’s protest is total deja vu.
She says the government did exactly the same thing in 1987 by downgrading parts of the park to allow industry to conduct research, explore and mine.
Smith says they managed to stop new mining in the park, but feels they are now back to square one.
“The reason we are here is because we want to leave a better legacy for the future,” says Smith.
Bob Peart with the Sierra Club of British Columbia says they are also concerned about the lack of public consultation.
“Our message to the minister is we want to work with her. We don’t want to be in a situation where we have to put the petition in her face and force her to have these conversations,” says Peart.
The online petition can be found here.