what’s the impact?

This story from yesterday hasn’t apparently reached mainstream media — not that I can see yet anyways. The Tyee and the PEA Blog (Blogging for Professionals across BC) are reporting it though:

BC drops 300 workers from resource ministries

Employees in the ministry of forests and range, ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources and the integrated land management were to be told today they would be lose their jobs, according to an email circulated within the government by deputy to the premier Allan Seckel.

Government emails provided later in the day show that 204 people were cut from the forest ministry, 52 from EMPR and 38 from ILMB. The cuts included 43 people in management positions, 52 members of the Professional Employees Association and 199 BCGEU members.

Sheez, nothing like losing your job by email…

Having worked with (not for) all of these ministries quite extensively in various capacities over the years — especially the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and the other stuff — I’m left wondering how much more “streamlined” various approval processes will become on exploration and full on mining projects? And how much less consultation will be done with the general public and First Nations?

For example, in 1.5 years on a contract with a northern BC First Nation with a mass of mineral exploration claims and activities in their Traditional Territory my colleagues and I dealt with at least eight different “Aboriginal Liaisons” with the Ministry of Mines in that time. I’ve heard recently that at least three more have circulated through the position. It is so bad now, that the Ministry has to fly staff from Victoria to Prince George to even attempt consultation with First Nations and local communities.

What is the cost of a flight from Victoria to the BC Interior — flying up in the morning and flying back in the afternoon — Add in meals, overtime, etc.? Do this at least once a month, or twice — 12 to 24 times a year. Does that not pay for an actual staff person in the interior, or maybe a part-time?

And what about actually meeting with community reps in their home communities?

Is this cost effective decision-making…?

On other fronts — does this present a friendly investment climate for the Province? Does this instill confidence in potential investors that government bureaucracies can process potential development applications?

Does this instill confidence in the public that appropriate balances can be found between development and conservation? Investment and long-term sustainability? [enter other buzz-words here]

2 thoughts on “what’s the impact?

  1. will (the devil's own advocate)

    Hey Dave,

    Independent of my own personal feelings on the matter and any semblance of sustainability, but…

    if the Govt is reducing their abilities to monitor and approve projects, wouldn’t that make BC a more attractive industrial investment concern?

    😉

    w

  2. salmon guy Post author

    Yes and no…
    One one hand, yes, in that, maybe a reduced (i.e. “streamlined”) approval process for industrial development could make for a more attractive investment.

    On the other hand, no, because folks looking to invest (at least the more informed) have repeatedly stated that if BC (and Canada) continue to drag their feet on settling treaties in BC with First Nations, or other treaty-like arrangements, they will limit their investment. Nothing more frightening to potential developers or investors then having a project they’ve invested million of dollars in that is then shut down by community-outcry or blockades.

    However, some development proponents are able to work past this by engaging with communities early and often (First Nation and non-First Nation) and working together to find alternatives that work. Unfortunately, many proponents (especially in the mining industry) choose to push projects through in the face of steady opposition. For example, Taseko Mines Ltd and their Prosperity Project on the Chilcotin Plateau — and their proposal to turn a lake (Fish Lake) into a mine tailings impoundment. Or Enbridge and their proposed Gateway Pipeline Project.

    My overall take is no, it’s not such a good thing as the backlog on projects hurts everyone involved. Bureaucracies are already limited in their effectiveness by being exactly that — bureaucracies. I don’t think less staff is necessarily going to make them more efficient… because the planning for neither was ever there in the first place.

    Lastly, a large portion of folks live in BC — because it’s BC. The Province has implemented their cheesy “best place on earth” campaign; however it’s a pretty darn great place to live because of its great resources. When it comes right down to it, folks can get rather protective of their places and values (e.g. salmon) and can mount very effective, locally-based campaigns to protect those places and values.

    curious time… curious time.

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