Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Rallying in the face of despair

with 6 comments

A guest post from Donna Passmore addressed to those fighting to protect the region’s environment

I know you feel defeated and frustrated. I know how hard you’ve  worked, how generous you’ve been of your time and talent and money. I know how heartbreaking it is when you watch the politicians that you  believed in and worked for betray their promises to you. I know how sickening it is to watch developers buy their way to destroying the environment so they can have “a little more’.

I know how disgusting it is to watch the green wash flow out of  Victoria and Ottawa and City Hall while the actual policies  threaten the health of your children and the ability of our environment to sustain us.

Three thousand Delta citizens stood in the pounding rain for more than two hours to send a message to the premier that they don’t want high voltage lines over their homes, electrical lines that the medical
professionals have told them are likely to impose cancer on their children….and for power that is going to the US. And after watching  the newscasts of that demonstration our provincial government’s callous response was that it was unmoved.

The Gateway Program will destroy nearly 2000 acres of farmland all told, will seriously harm Burns Bog, will impose toxic diesel particulate on the children of 17 schools in Delta and Surrey (80% of which are elementary schools), will support the expansion of Deltaport  that will take massive tanker traffic into critical habitat for our already endangered Southern Resident Orcas and will probably destroy the last of the salmon habitat in the Lower Fraser Estuary, threatening the survival of salmon for the entire Fraser River… and do so at a time when changes in energy and shipping tell us it is not only bad environmental policy, but bad business.

Gordon Campbell is spending hundreds of millions of dollars celebrating 150 years of white settlement in British Columbia, while destroying a 3,600 year old FN village and 3,500 – 9,000 year old First Nation sacred sites, to support his massive road expansion.

The Mayor of Delta has lied to the people who elected her. Her former campaign manager and executive assistant have divorced themselves from any further association with Lois Jackson because of her  unconscionable betrayal of voter trust.

The Mayor of White Rock campaigned on a platform of limiting the height of buildings. She betrayed that promise, but prolonged the decision through a subsequent election campaign so that she could hold
on to power. This is not an invitation to debate the ceiling on density.

The City of Surrey threw out its slogan of “City of Parks” and its wildlife logos and adopted an “anywhere USA” line of high rise apartments as its new logo… while the Mayor – who campaigned for office accusing her predecessor of having “chopped down 50,000 trees”  – has herself destroyed massive amounts of the richest biodiversity in this city. She has allowed developers to build right up to the edge of our streams and rivers, to take down trees during nesting season, and to sell viable farmland for massive sprawling industrial parks.

Developers have made a killing in this region for the past 15 years – they have a hell of a lot of money, and are prepared to use it to buy influence. They have large staffs of lobbyists that spend their days working the halls of government while you and I are trying to earn enough money to keep our bills paid and a little extra to print brochures to our neighbours about the environmental problems we are creating.

Here are our choices:
We can give up. Most people already have – that’s the only reason Campbell and Falcon and Harper and Lois Jackson are able to get away with what they are getting away with. Developers win when people stop fighting.

Developers have lots of money – but they don’t have the votes. We do.

And within the next 18 months we have municipal, provincial and federal elections – and an incredible opportunity to reclaim control.  We can do more than throw out Gordon Campbell and Kevin Falcon –
we can throw out their legislation that robbed local governments of the power to resist them.

We CAN stop Gateway. When honourable people get control of the board of Metro Vancouver, we can rebuild the Green Zone. We can protect our foodlands, our fisheries, our communities, our children. We can set limits on growth and development.

We must continue to stand together, we need good, honest people to put their names on the ballots.

To quote hereditary Chief Red Jacket’s remarks to the Upper Pitt River meeting, “When we step forward together, we can run the bastards out of town.”

On Monday, August 4th – at the 11th hour – a spiritual and scientific vigil will be held in Delta to support preservation of FN sacred sites. Watch the Stop Gateway facebook group for details.

On Saturday, July 27th , the Farmland Defence League is bringing together the founders of the Agricultural Land Reserve and the FDL for a kick-off fundraising dinner to celebrate and re-attest our  commitment to protecting our foodlands for future generations. Tickets are $35… and I can provide.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every  time we fail.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense”
Winston Churchill

Donna Passmore

Farmland Defence League of BC
Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition
& Gateway 40 Citizens Network

Written by Stephen Rees

July 3, 2008 at 8:41 am

6 Responses

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  1. There is another option. Start a new discourse centred on optimism, building a better world with better communities, improving our quality of life, and building trust in the positive and human creativity.

    Winston Churchill inspired hope because his message was about having hope against the odds, not just railing against the odds. And he helped uplift millions in the face of immediate disaster.

    Human behaviour responds in kind to the message. How could Churchill ever concieve broadcasting messages of depair and hopelessness and the failures of leaders when a dozen UK cities were being firebombed?? The fact is, he didn’t. He chose hope … “honour and good sense.” I find Donna’s inclusion of that particular Churchill quote very much out of context with her own message.

    In “Breakthrough” authors Nordhaus & Shellenberg pointed out that Martin Luther King started his now iconic I Have a Dream speech first with ‘I Have a Nightmare’, but switched shortly into it at the urging of Aretha Franklin who was standing in the background and couldn’t take the negativity. Thank the god of your choice he did.

    We need that kind of switch now, not just another laundry list of things firmly entenched in the habitual pattern of negative marketing.

    We know the nightmares very well, both at the local and planetary scales because they’ve been driven into us since 1962 … ad nauseum, detail by negative detail. It’s certainly obvious after almost five decades that espousing mainly human failure and limitation has not inspired a collective reach for solutions.

    It’s time to expand the discussion to what has been tragically ignored all this time, about our capacity to learn, then to be inspired to action within the context of possibility and “honour and good sense”.

    We already know what we’re against. So what are we for?


    July 3, 2008 at 1:17 pm

  2. You must have incense burning,kumbia,we are the world,too much time in the family garden,maybe you can convince the next 5 million people that move to BC ,while your all holding hands chanting and medicating in the community garden SHEESH, TOO MUCH PROZAC,TOO MUCH LOVE JUICE,SOME OF YOU NEVER LEFT THE SUMMER OF LOVE IN SAN FRANCISCO IN 1969—- someone needs to wake up !!!!

    Those who can`t do teach!——and thats the problem.

    Grant G

    July 3, 2008 at 3:37 pm

  3. There is yet another option, Grant. Maintain the rambling, ranting, angry negativity. Wait a minute. That’s been the paradigm for a very vocal (by tiny) segment all along. Like, for decades … man.

    That entire psychology MUST change, or we’re stuck spinning our wheels listening to the ranters instead of gaining traction on a new, more hopeful politics and mind set.

    Time to bogart the attitude and stop taking up so much space. Because it turns off the majority, and nothing will change as long as they’re turned off.

    Society needs to be inspired and engaged in constructive dialogue now more than ever, not inflamed by just another angry talking head articulating (not very eloquently at that) everything that’s wrong in society, and rarely if ever suggesting what is right, or attempting to articulate how / when / why / who / where things could improve.

    Or even just trying to be positive about anything.

    Trying to maintain a sense of optimism — or perhaps more correctly trying not to drown in a self-perpetuating vat of pessimism, despair, depression and vindictiveness towards one’s critics — should not necesarily diminish a healthy sense of cynicism and balance.

    But if you still think that having a positive outlook, being optimistic or really trying to have a constructive debate about ideas is for wusses and bead-rubbing bleeding hearts, and continue the insults, then I for one don’t have any more time to give you.


    July 4, 2008 at 9:55 am

  4. We had green spaces–The ALR—WE had more schools,we had enviromental protections,fisheries acts,health standards,we had all those things and what happened?

    The likes of Campbell and his group of yes men and cronies corrupted everything!

    What you don`t understand is when you keep piling people in the same result will occur over and over again,you cannot convince me diffrent.

    If people weren`t imported here we wouldn`t have these problems! I am not anti immigrant but—You figure out the answeres BEFORE you create a problem,I have run boats for decades and smart boaters are prepared with all aspects of safe boating,YOU DON`T FIGURE OUT A ANSWERE AFTER YOU HAVE CAPSIZED THE BOAT–YOU MAKE SURE IT NEVER CAPSIZES!

    If you think you can have millions more people in the lower mainland without ruining the watershed,the fishery,the farm land,the air quality,just look at the China sea they have an alge bloom you can walk on,why? because of large amounts of chemicals and fertilizers being dumped in rivers(to support 1.3billion people—500.000 plus people a year die in China from air pollution every year,why? Because bof greedy goverment corporations.

    You just don`t get it and you will never get it–All the questions must be answered before you proceed with any project,not just a couple of answeres to a hundred question!

    The whole prcess is flawed because goverments are starved for cash and they think they can build their way out ,IT CAN`T BE DONE—-Its called parkinson`s law and it will be the bleeding hearts that cause the death of us all!

    You want to save the earth—-ban growth–ban expansion—reduce world population to 1 billion—it population grows the world for humans will end,period

    But you want 7 to 10 billion on earth—others want 20 to 30 billion on earth—some say a trillion—–The smart ones say because they know its true that when populations become to large in animals ,birds,fish,anything even humans they will all die and thats one concept that you will never understand!

    Grant G

    July 4, 2008 at 3:33 pm

  5. By the way my dear Meredith(with respect) I very much enjoy your flowery wordy speeches,they are very similar to the ads from BP british petroleum and exxon mobile and the coal industry,talk about nauseum.

    Yea and I know you will not now or never be my dear(with respect)

    I don`t know,I think I probably could charm the socks off you !

    ———————signed……………………………….The Joker

    Grant G

    July 4, 2008 at 8:42 pm

  6. Grant / Brian / Whatever,

    First, don’t patronize me.

    Second, so much for the concept of constructive debate. Rant away. And turn off the other half of Stephen’s readers in the process.

    Third, you may want to change your patriarchal tone toward me … I am a male of the species and mature enough to reject BS.


    July 8, 2008 at 1:26 pm

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