Working towards conservation solutions can take time, energy, careful consideration, and collaboration. Few people know this better than the elected officials who work to balance the health of the environment with the needs of their constituency.
Through this exercise, you will step into the shoes of a local government official serving the Fraser Watershed. You will be up for reelection soon but, prior to voting day, there are five key environmental issues which you will need to weigh in on. Your goal is to position yourself for re-election within eight key demographics, while also maintaining or improving the health and resilience of the Fraser River.
To make an informed decision on each issue, you will be provided with a briefing which you are encouraged to review prior to taking your stance. Click the issue headline to access your briefing, then scroll down to weigh in on this issue.
At the bottom of the page, you will see how your constituency responds to your stance on the issues at hand. You can learn more about each demographic’s values and priorities* by hovering over the icon. Your campaign has pressed you to achieve a 65% or higher cumulative approval rating, leading up to the election.
* The demographics of this constituency are for educational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect an actual constituency within British Columbia.
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project (known as the T2 expansion) is a proposed plan by the Port of Vancouver to build a second shipping terminal at the mouth of the Fraser River. You’ve been asked to give a statement on whether you would support this project.
- Many constituents are on the fence about T2.
- Those opposed have concerns around the viability of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population if the expansion project would be approved; these whales depend upon Chinook salmon for survival.
- Those in favor of T2 are saying opponents to the project are “anti-job” and “not concerned about the economy.”
- The Tsawwassen First Nation has spoken up, asking for more information on the project to address concerns around access to resources that are integral to the Nation’s culture and well-being.
- The T2 expansion will effectively create a new island at the mouth of the Fraser estuary, the size of 250 football fields. This project will allow for more cargo to flow in and out of the Port of Vancouver.
- Supporters of the T2 expansion say it’s a critical piece to fulfill trade needs in British Columbia and across Canada. The expansion will open up the door to more trade with Asia, creating more business opportunities and jobs in the region.
- Those in opposition to T2 say that its development will cause irreparable, long-term damage to over 1,000 hectares of habitat in the Fraser estuary, which includes critical feeding grounds and habitat for migratory shorebirds, orcas, and salmon. They also say that there is not a strong business case for a second terminal in this location, and that supporting a port in Prince Rupert (980 km north of Vancouver) would be a better alternative.
The region is proposing a parking tax increase, to pay for transit upgrades that will make public transportation more accessible. Your vote could make the difference in whether the tax increase is approved or denied.
- The already-struggling tourism and recreation industry and business industry would be most affected by a tax increase; these groups are asking for support in measures to make their operations more—not less—accessible. The opposition party has aligned with these industries on this issue.
- Those living in the city are generally in favor of the increase (and the reduction in traffic associated with fewer cars in the city.)
- The proposed increase will raise taxes on parking garages and meters in the region from 21% to 29% over the course of two years.
- Supporters see the tax increase as a way to provide improved and more frequent public transit options—one of the more important emissions reduction solutions for the region. They say the tax increase will provide further incentive for tourists and residents alike to choose low-emissions transit options when navigating the region.
- Opponents to this measure say that parking taxes are already high, and that further increases will negatively impact businesses. There is a concern that those living in the suburbs or visiting the region will choose to take their business to the surrounding regions, where parking is less costly.
Human expansion & development
A coalition of environmental organizations are pushing for the legal protection of a section of land containing old growth forests in the watershed. They are seeking support and comments on their plan from local government officials like you.
- Some First Nations in BC, including the nearby Squamish Nation, have called for a moratorium on old growth logging in their territory.
- Many of your constituents are employed by the forestry industry, and job security has polled as one of the top priorities among voters.
- The proposed plan will protect 1,000 hectares of Crown land from logging. A portion of this land contains old growth trees, which provide habitat for a rich diversity of wildlife. This land sits adjacent to an existing logging site, and is also of interest to the forestry industry.
- Supporters cite old growth forests as a unique and critically important habitat in need of protection. Once lost, this habitat cannot be replanted or recreated. Supporters also point to these forests as an important natural solution to capturing carbon emissions.
- Opponents to the plan cite the increased demand for timber and the need for access to BC’s rich natural resources. Forestry is a major source of jobs in the area, and timber prices are on the rise.
You will be voting on a new proposal to combat the threat of invasive species in the Fraser River. Proposed measures include training requirements for boat owners to learn about invasive species and fines for boaters who don’t comply with invasive species mitigation practices.
- While supportive of invasive species mitigation practices, some parks have concerns around what this training requirement would mean for daily boat rentals – a popular recreational activity among visitors to your region.
- Profit margins for fishers have been dwindling recently, due to decreased fish stocks in the Fraser.
- Those opposed to mandatory trainings want to focus efforts on more frequent and thorough invasive inspection stations for boaters.
- Proposed training measures will require all boaters to pass a virtual course on invasive species mitigation practices—such as bilge flushing and how to perform a visual inspection for invasive species—to prevent the spread of invasive species while boating. The training will cost $10 to access and boaters will have three months to pass the course. Any boaters found to be on the water without having passed the training will be fined $100. Fees collected will pay for new signage on invasive species prevention and staffing at invasive inspection stations at high traffic areas.
- Supporters of these new measures applaud the focus on education and awareness, which are proven to be successful in reducing the spread of invasive species. They see this new training as formalizing every boater’s responsibility to act as good stewards to the environment.
- Opponents to these measures feel that extra training will be a barrier to people enjoying the river recreationally, and will be an undue burden to those who make their living on the water. They say that many of these practices are already common among boaters, and that additional training and regulation is not necessary.
A bylaw is proposed to relax limits on when fertilizer can be applied to farmland in your region. You must decide if you want to support this measure, with or without modifications.
- Farmers are at the center of this issue; they feel they can determine when to apply fertilizer without government oversight.
- Families and young professionals have been raising concerns about the rising costs of food in the region. They say they want to buy local, but affordable options are not always available.
- Currently, fertilizer application is permitted between April and September, and conditions must pass runoff-related risk assessments prior to application in the months of October, February, and March. No fertilizer application is permitted between November and January.
- The proposed relaxed bylaw would permit fertilizer application for two additional months in October and March, and would allow application in November and February if risk assessments are successfully passed. Fertilizer application would still be banned in December and January.
- Supporters of this bylaw feel it will lead to an increase in local food produced, which will help meet the demands of a growing population in the region. They say that, without these measures, food prices could rise.
- Opponents of this bylaw are concerned about the increased risk of pollution associated with runoff. They see this as a potential health hazard to people looking to enjoy the river, those who fish in it, and the risks to habitat health.
Within your constituency, the majority of families are middle class, live in the suburbs, are property owners, and are largely concerned with health and safety, affordability, jobs, and maintaining easy access to their needs. They value the environment, but it’s not always at the top of their priority list.
Fishers are invested in keeping fish populations healthy, as this directly affects their future livelihood. They must balance this with the continued need to make a living in the current environment. Generally, they are weary of additional regulations that add complications to their work.
The business owner demographic in your constituency is mostly comprised of local small business and restaurant owners. This group is generally opposed to more regulations—as that usually means they need to pay to change something they are doing—and in favor of initiatives that will reduce their taxes. They also care about the community that they operate within, and frequently support or sponsor local initiatives, including local park clean ups.
The tourism and recreation industry is very supportive of local businesses and enterprises, and is always looking for new ways to draw in visitors to the area. They also see the value in keeping a healthy and beautiful environment, which is one of the region’s biggest draws.
Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) are champions for Watershed CPR in your constituency. They put the health of the river and watershed first, and are in vocal support of protection, restoration, and any measures that work to build a more sustainable and resilient future for the Fraser Watershed.
The majority of young professionals in your constituency are renting property in the city and do not own or depend upon a car to get around. They tend to be more invested in environmental issues and, overall, are supportive of sustainability measures.
Farmers want to be able to provide affordable, high-quality food to the region in a way that allows them to support their families. They are concerned about climate change (flooding and droughts, specifically) and invested in water and land health. However, they are not typically very vocal on political or environmental issues.
Wealthy political donors in your constituency are supportive of environmental causes, while also remaining protective of their assets and how they make money (largely through the profits of corporations and industry). They are most concerned with job growth and keeping taxes low.
Balancing the needs of people, economy, and the environment is an extremely challenging task. In reality, there are few—if any!— easy solutions to the complex conservation issues we face today. Think about it—if solving these conservation concerns was easy, we’d already be doing it. Each decision we make, whether at the governmental level or within our daily lives, has ripple effects, many of which we have yet to begin to measure. Openness to change, collaboration, and a united dedication to building a resilient environment will be critical to future conservation successes.