By Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald
British Columbians are among the world’s most fortunate citizens. By the very fact of being resident in this province, we are custodians of a tremendously valuable asset.
British Columbia is somewhat unique in that 94 per cent of the province is publicly owned. The majority of the province is Crown land, owned by the people of this province.
A recent Vancouver Sun article placed the value of these lands at a trillion dollars, a massive sum to be sure. But to those of us who live here, who work, hunt, hike in the woods, or kayak and fish in our streams and lakes, we know this land is, in fact, invaluable.
As the owners of this land, people in this area feel strongly that we must protect our asset and ensure that each action taken on our public lands benefits primarily those who own it.
Without vigilance we will lose this asset. Like the giveaway of BC Rail, irresponsible governments make decisions that allow private interests to take over our public assets. It is up to us to fight to keep the commons in public hands.
But we also need to invest in managing our land. Owning such a valuable asset comes with real responsibilities. We must be good stewards of our forests, our water and our other natural resources.
Budget cuts and reductions to ministry staff are reducing our capacity to understand what is happening on the land. We have also fallen desperately behind in replanting and silviculture work that is needed in our forests.
People here tell me that they want a government that will protect our public lands. They tell me that we need to invest in forest health. They tell me that they don’t want our rivers our given away to private power producers.
And they tell me that our public lands should not just be managed for us today, but also for future generations.