Georgia Strait Alliance is the only citizens' group focused on protecting the marine environment in and around the whole Strait of Georgia – Canada's most at-risk natural environment, and the place where 70% of British Columbians live, work and play. We are committed to a future for our region that includes clean water and air, healthy wild salmon runs, rich marine life and natural areas, and sustainable communities.

November 25, 2014

Art for social change - The Wild & Scenic Film Festival

What motivates a person to standup paddleboard 400 km along BC’s Central Coast or spend the winter on a remote arctic island with little but his surfboard? Over 120 people gathered in Victoria on November 13th to find out!

Georgia Strait Alliance was proud to host these and six other inspirational stories at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival at St. Ann’s Academy. Now in its 11th year, Wild & Scenic focuses on films which speak to the environmental concerns and celebrations of our planet, and travels to more than 100 communities throughout North America. When Festival organizers reached out to offer us the opportunity to bring the films to British Columbia, we jumped at the chance to play our part in spreading the importance of nature in our lives and the joy and adventure it brings us. 

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival featured
8 inspirational films about nature and conservation.
A highlight of the evening was the chance to hear directly from Norm Hann, star of the film STAND, about his experience paddleboarding the 400 km tanker route from Kitimat to Bella Bella. The film is a hauntingly beautiful examination of the people and culture of the Great Bear Rainforest - and the lives of those committed to defending its fragile ecosystems against the threat of oil tanker traffic on BC's coast.  If you haven’t had the chance to see this film yet, we strongly encourage you to seek it out!

The threats to the Central Coast and those we are facing here in the Strait of Georgia due to the potential increase in tanker traffic if the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline is approved are eerily familiar. Films like STAND help us see what is at stake and motivate people to go out and make a difference in their community and around the world.  People in the north and south are standing up for their communities – you need only look at those people standing up on Burnaby Mountain  - and films like STAND make what’s important so clear.

Another crowd favourite was North of the Sun, which chronicles the adventures of Norwegian surfers Wegge and Ranum who spent 9 cold months on a remote arctic island off the coast of Northern Norway. With little food and meager shelter, they survived with their most important possession - their surfboards, as the remote bay holds a well-kept secret: some of the world's finest surfing waves. With humour, warmth and a strong sense of how important the natural world is to their lives, the surfers charmed the crowd, who left in awe at what these two adventurers endured and experienced, and with huge smiles on our faces!

A big thanks to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival for giving GSA the opportunity to explore art as a means of increasing the conversation about social change and our place in the natural world. It was a truly powerful and inspiring experience!

November 24, 2014

Local election results: a win for the coast, climate and communities

Election night 2014 was a great moment for all those in BC who want to stop pipeline and tanker projects that threaten our coast and our climate.

From big city mayors to small town councillors, communities up and down the coast elected local leaders who promised to work in office to stop the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines. Vancouver, Burnaby, Victoria, Esquimalt, Prince Rupert and Smithers all elected mayors who are opposed to tar sands pipelines.

In the Vancouver Island community of Sooke, 70% of residents voted YES to a referendum question that commits the district to opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Across the province, fossil fuel projects and community control over environmental decision-making proved to be a defining issue in many local races. Although traditionally considered federal and provincial matters, this year’s municipal election campaign saw many candidates speaking out about the risks oil, coal and LNG transport could bring to their area, and demanding a greater say in the decision-making process. It was a telling sign of how concerned communities are about this issue, and how ignored they feel by other levels of government.

At Georgia Strait Alliance, we contributed to the debate by working in selected strategic locations around the Strait: Nanaimo, Parksville, Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast. We sent questionnaires to all registered candidates in these locations – 125 in total – asking their views on the Kinder Morgan pipeline as well as oil spill risk and response capacity. We circulated candidates’ replies to our supporters via email and published them on our website and social media, encouraging people to get informed, ask questions at all-candidates’ meetings and above all, get out and vote. 

You can find the full survey results here. The vast majority of candidates who responded to our survey were opposed to the Kinder Morgan expansion project, did not feel their communities had adequate resources to prepare for an oil spill, and were concerned about the recent decision by the National Energy Board to overrule the City of Burnaby’s bylaws to allow Kinder Morgan to conduct surveying work on Burnaby Mountain. Most also said that if they were elected, they would work to ensure that residents’ views on Kinder Morgan are heard by the federal authorities who will ultimately decide the project’s outcome. 

We were thrilled that when the votes were counted, many of these candidates were chosen to lead in their communities – particularly on the Sunshine Coast, where 65% of those who completed our survey were elected – and we look forward to working with municipalities around the Salish Sea in the coming months to ensure that community needs and voices are not ignored in this historic debate.

As the dramatic events unfolding on Burnaby Mountain over the past few days have brought into sharp focus, we need local leaders who are willing to stand up for their communities now more than ever. How many municipalities need to say ‘no’; how many First Nations need to launch lawsuits; how many ordinary citizens need to get arrested before the federal government and Kinder Morgan get the message that this pipeline will never be built? Whatever the NEB and Cabinet decide, it is abundantly clear that Kinder Morgan will never gain social license in BC – and that the future we want will have to be created by the local communities showing such great leadership today.