Elizabeth May’s Response to PROW’s 2019 Questionnaire

To read the original questionnaire, click here.

RESPONSE FROM ELIZABETH MAY, GREEN PARTY OF CANADA

Issue 1: Currently the Tulista boat launch is the only public facility service the entire north end of the Saanich Peninsula. This is heavily used and subject to high winds and heavy seas from the east which often pose safety issues. Property on Queen Mary Bay in North Saanich was recently listed for sale and, as an extension to the Gulf Islands National Park, would provide a protected location for a boat launch.

Question 1: If elected, how would you advance the proposal to acquire the Queen Mary Bay property, expand the Gulf Islands National Park, and develop a public boat launch on the property?

Answer 1: In order to expand the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, we must restore funding to the Parks Canada Budget that was cut in 2010. If funding was restored, not only could we pursue purchase the appropriate property and build the boat launch, but we could also construct a national interpretation centre. I have had many meetings about this file with Catherine Mckenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and our local Park advisory board members, Marcia Morash and Joy Davis. Without adequate funding, however, expansions are not in their plans.

The District of North Saanich has expressed interest in collaborating on a boat launch but a realistic site has yet to be acquired. The Queen Mary Bay property would be ideal for an expansion and a boat launch as there is nothing ecologically sensitive about the area and it has both road and water access. But even at $18 million dollars, this property won’t be for sale forever.

I will continue to actively search for funds to restore the Parks Canada budget, as that is the first step to seeing these improvements come to fruition.

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Issue 2: Sea Level Rise is a concern to all coastal communities. In particular, waterfront property owners are concerned about increasing erosion and flooding caused by more powerful and more frequent storm surges.

Question 2: If elected, how would you move forward to see federal resources deployed to protect coastal communities from erosion and flooding?

Answer 2: To protect coastal communities from erosion, flooding and storm surges, we must arrest climate change. We must hold temperature increases to no more than 1.5 °C above what they were before the Industrial Revolution.

Locally, all levels of government are involved. As your members are aware, the District of North Saanich conducted a study for planning for a sea level rise of 2m. The trouble is, if temperatures increase above 1.5°C and we lose the Antarctic Ice Sheet, we are looking at an 8m rise in sea level. This is a dramatic difference — beyond concerns of insurability where repeated weather events occur — that will result in people losing their homes and properties entirely.

Protecting properties and infrastructure from sea level rise is a reactive strategy, and can lead to a false sense of security. There are structural mechanisms, such as building dykes and seawalls, as well as natural habitats, like eelgrass beds and kelp forests, that can be restored along the waterfront to mitigate small increases in sea level.

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Issue 3: The BC Supreme Court recently upheld the riparian rights of property owners in the Gulf Islands to protect their waterfront property from erosion.

Question 3: Do you support the riparian rights of waterfront owners to protect their property from erosion with seawalls?

Answer 3: We have a responsibility to protect people and their properties, but the point I want to emphasize here is that if we don’t take action to address climate change, these issues will evolve from protecting properties to evacuating properties and compensating for losses.

I support the riparian rights of waterfront owners to protect their properties with site-specific solutions that take ecologically sensitive areas into consideration.

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Issue 4: Archaeological remains are frequently found on private property near the ocean. Under current regulations, the investigation of such a discovery is at the expense of the property owner If our history is of value to our society at large, the costs should be borne by society at large — by government, not the individual.

Question 4: Do you support the idea of some level of government paying for the cost of carrying out archaeological investigations, rather than the individual property owner?

Answer 4: Individual land owners should not have to pay for archaeological investigations. This is a sensitive issue that involves multiple levels of government and First Nation communities, but public resources should be available.

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Issue 5: Our members will be evaluating candidates in the upcoming election based on their knowledge of local waterfront issues.

Question 5: What do you see as the most important waterfront issues facing Saanich – Gulf Islands, and if you are elected as our MP, why are you most suited to deal with them?

Answer 5: The most important issue or threat to our waterfront properties and coastlines is climate change. I have been consistent in my resolve to stop the human impact of climate change, and the Green Party is the only party in Canada with a climate emergency response plan bold enough to successfully end our dependence on fossil fuels, saving our species from extinction.

There are other concerns for waterfront property owners that fall within federal jurisdiction; risks of fuel or oil spills, free anchorages for freighters, derelict boats, dumping and blackwater, people living aboard unsafe vessels, the public right to navigation, and plastic contamination.

I have long been an advocate for the protection of our fragile coastlines in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands and beyond. In my eight years as Member of Parliament for this district, I have helped secure funding for local ocean-related initiatives through the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada — an organization that plays a key role in ground-breaking research on ocean management, disaster mitigation, and environmental protection. I understand the science, and I know that the health of our ocean ecosystems is a symptom of the health of our environment more generally. I have dedicated my entire life to respecting and protecting our oceans — and I have no intention of stopping.

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