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Letter: 'Cynical' Conservative bill won't stop Coquitlam sewage flowing into Burnaby

Writer says the Conservatives gutted the federal Fisheries Act while in power
Bubbling Sewage Oakdale 2020
Bubbling sewage in Coquitlam that seeped into Stoney Creek in Burnaby.

The Editor:

RE: MP Shin boosts federal bill that aims to tackle Burnaby, Coquitlam sewage problems

One of the more destructive things the Conservative government of Stephen Harper did during their tenure was to tear apart environmental protections under the Fisheries Act and decimate the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

It flew a bit under the radar, buried in an omnibus budget bill where the outrages were piled high.

Much of this damage to a fundamental environmental legislation in Canada has still not been repaired.

However, the cynical private members’ bill supported by Port Moody-Coquitlam Conservative MP Nelly Shin does nothing to fix those problems.

Instead, it cravenly defines one specific type of “deleterious substance” already prohibited from fisheries waters by section 34 of the act, and prohibits it again.

Adding words to an act while making no substantive change to it.

The number-one source of sewage entering waterways in B.C. is from old combined-flow sewer systems, where sanitary wastes mix with storm run-off.

Separation of these systems is costing B.C. municipalities and property taxpayers billions of dollars.

Most local governments are working at getting this done as finances allow, and are on track to full separation by 2050.

If the member from Port Moody-Coquitlam wants to see this happen faster, she should be asking senior governments (who collect 92% of your taxes) to bring money to accelerate this program, not waste time with a meaningless amendment to an unenforceable section of the Fisheries Act her caucus predecessors already stripped the teeth out of.

- Patrick Johnstone, New Westminster