Earlier this year, the federal government under Harper's Conservatives fundamentally redefined environmental legislation in Canada as part of the budget implementation act. The federal government claimed that it wouldn't impact environmental protection in Canada, but sadly it is already rolling back the clock on conservation in Canada and in Langley.
When looking around Langley and the South of Fraser, there are many green ways through our communities with a good chunk of them being riparian zones or areas around waterways. These corridors provide habitats for a wide range of wildlife and protect our waterways. What many people don't know is that these protected areas were mandated by federal fisheries rules and regulations. It is the federal government that wouldn't allow you to build right on top of a river or in-fill a stream. Most would be surprised to know a vast majority of what keep our environment safe from the effects of urban development is the result of federal fisheries regulation and enforcement. In the City of Langley the protection of the Nicomekl Floodplain is the result of federal fisheries rules.
At last night's City of Langley Parks and Environment Advisory Committee Meeting, I learned how the federal government's budget act is having a direct impact on environmental protection in Langley. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has handed out pink slips to DFO staff in field offices all over the country and the field office that serves Langley, like many others, is being shut down. What does this mean?
For the City of Langley, it means we are losing a valuable resource that is able to provide guidance, enforcement of environmental regulations and go after people that are destroying our environment. It will now be a lot easier for people to pollute or destroy riparian zones and waterways as communities like the City of Langley don't have the resources or the mandate to protect these areas.
This news is disheartening because I learned last night that fish were returning to seemingly random places like a culvert at City Park. And fish are an indicator species for the general well being of our ecosystem and as a result human health.
It has been less than a year since the budget bill became law, and I'm already seeing that it is starting to unravel 30 years of environment progress. It is truly a shame.