Sunday, March 30, 2014

Standing up for recycling in BC

Recycling at risk in BC
Recycling is an important value for many in Saanich South. It is a simple way we do our part to help the environment. Recycling businesses also provides jobs for dozens of people in this constituency. These reasons inspired me to investigate the overhaul that the BC government is in the final stages of implementing for this sector.

What I discovered is shocking. As background, the BC government has enabled the creation of a non-profit Society called Multi-Materials BC and is about to give it extraordinary power and monopoly-like control over the recycling sector in BC. Currently there is a competitive marketplace with many players such as municipalities, haulers, depots, handlers and processors.

The impact of the changes which MMBC is pushing through have set off alarm bells across the province.
Last week I rose in the Legislature and raised five key criticisms of MMBC:
  1. It transfers authority for residential recycling in BC to a dummy corporation that is run by a tiny number of big business interests in Ontario. 
  2. It will lead to BC residents being gouged on the cost of recycling. 
  3. It extracts profit from the recycling sector while transferring risk to municipalities and the smaller operators, especially hauling companies. 
  4. It undermines successful recycling initiatives already in place such as the Refundable Beverage Containers program. 
  5. And most fundamentally, it fails to address the environmental challenge that inspired the recycling movement in the first place.

My speech was picked up and reported on in every Black Press local paper across the province (link) Many other media also reported on it, including the Times Colonist (link).

The transcript of it is here (at the 10:30 mark), and you can watch it here:



My investigation was the first to uncover that this "non-profit" "BC" "Society", MMBC, is in fact controlled by just three directors, two of whom do not live in BC and are Vice-Presidents of large corporations (Unilever and Loblaws). The third Director is their employee.

I followed up with a tough question for the Premier in Question Period. (Coverage of that is here).

The TC ran a scathing editorial about MMBC yesterday that draws on a number of the arguments I raised and there has been other reports detailing similar and equally serious concerns with MMBC. Here is one from the CEO of Buckerfields.

The government has yet to respond meaningfully to these criticisms -- that is unacceptable. I will continue to work actively on this file.

Best, Lana

Thursday, March 27, 2014

LiveSmart Small Business Program is worth saving

Reprinted from the Straight.com. Source here

by LANA POPHAM, JOHN HORGAN

CONSERVATION IS THE cleanest and least expensive way to meet the increasing demand for electricity in British Columbia. The more energy we conserve now, the fewer new sources of supply our province will need in the future.

Who would disagree with this statement? Certainly not the Ministry of Energy and Mines: this statement is taken directly from the government’s website. Unfortunately, instead of putting action behind these words, the B.C. Liberal government is ending the innovative and cost-effective LiveSmart Small Business Program.

One of the easiest ways for us to conserve energy is to upgrade older buildings to modern standards of energy efficiency. It can be as simple as changing to longer-lasting, more energy efficient LED light bulbs, or improving air sealing so that homes and businesses aren’t "heating the neighbourhood". British Columbia is legally obligated to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent by 2020, and conserving energy is the single best way to move us towards that goal.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Times Colonist: ‘Boring, balanced budget’ has its bright side

Popham wants a standing committee.
Photo by: BRUCE STOTESBURY, TC
 
Adrian Chamberlain 

When it comes to the recently announced 2014 B.C. budget, the reaction of arts groups appears to be: “Yeah, well … could be worse.”

Still, given the B.C. cultural industry’s often tumultuous relationship with the provincial government, a few glimmers of hope seem to be emerging.
Last week, Finance Minister Mike de Jong tabled a fiscal plan he described as “a triple-B budget — a boring, balanced, budget.” It’s hold-the-line stuff; there are no gifts for arts and culture. But, on the plus side, there are no funding cutbacks to an economic sector that, according to Vancouver’s Alliance for Arts and Culture, employs more people than B.C.’s forestry industry.
“So we’re not feeling that [the government] is looking for excuses to tear the rug from under us,” said Rob Gloor, the alliance’s executive director.
Another hopeful glimmer: Both Gloor and Ivan Habel, president of ProArt Alliance (representing Victoria’s professional arts groups), are cautiously optimistic about a proposal put forth this week by Saanich South NDP MLA Lana Popham in the legislature. Popham suggested the creation of a select standing committee on arts, culture and the creative economy.