British Columbia is made up of 94% Crown land. Only a very small portion of the land within British Columbia is privately owned. The rest is the responsibility of government; to watch over, to administer, and to protect.
Earlier governments in BC had a strong sense of this responsibility. They understood that the Crown held this incredible asset in trust for every British Columbian, and that each British Columbian had a right to receive benefit from the use of these resources.
To give you a sense of just how valuable BC’s commons is I will give you one number. The full value of all the timber on Crown land in British Columbia has been set at a quarter of a trillion dollars. That’s the value of just one of this province’s resources.
Understanding its value, wouldn’t it make sense to take the greatest care in protecting that asset.
But instead of protecting our forests and doing our best to promote forest health, this government has cut the very forest workers whose job it was to do that work. Forest health has become a huge issue that will affect not only our ability to sustain a forest industry in this province but that will also have real consequences in terms of climate change.
Not protecting forest health is like not putting oil in one’s car. We are allowing this very valuable asset to become degraded through this government’s neglect.
Would it not also make sense to ensure that the owners of such a valuable asset receive the benefits from that asset?
If you divided the value BC’s timber amongst every British Columbian, each one of us would get literally millions of dollars.
Today, public lands are being given away for resort and real estate developments. Rights to rivers for power generation are being given away with little thought to the consequences. Someone is receiving benefit from these giveaways, but it isn’t the average British Columbian.
We need a government that will take care of this very valuable asset and that will ensure that the true owners of this asset, the people of British Columbia, receive maximum value from the commons.
British Columbians are demanding a higher standard from government; a government that puts the best interests of the people first.
Norm Macdonald is the New Democratic MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke. His website is located at www.NormMacdonald.ca.