qathet Regional District pursues pesticides meeting

Board carries motion for electronic presentation with provincial experts

qathet Regional District (qRD) is hoping to organize a meeting with provincial officials to explain pesticide use and regulations.

At the July 30 board meeting, directors considered a motion made at the committee of the whole meeting earlier in the month to request presentations on pesticides from the province. The regional board, along with City of Powell River, had received delegations opposing pesticide application on Western Forest Products property in the qRD region.

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City director George Doubt said he thought regional directors had discussed inviting some people to make presentations to the regional district. This would involve inviting representatives from BC government ministries to make appropriate discussions and delegations to explain pesticide use.

Doubt said under the COVID-19 circumstances, where half of the board is in the boardroom and the other half attends meetings virtually, and no members of the public can attend in person, he doesn’t think it’s as useful as he would like to see a learning program.

“Under normal circumstances, I think we would have some form of a public meeting where we could have experts from the various ministries explaining the approval of pesticides and herbicides, and management programs,” said Doubt. “I’m not sure how useful it will be and how valuable it would be to have people appearing on our screen and making another presentation to us. We’re probably more informed than a lot of people who are concerned about the issue.”

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said he heard Doubt’s concerns. Gisborne said over the last couple of months he has been watching other regional board meetings electronically. Sunshine Coast Regional District has been streaming meetings on YouTube. He said looking at the proposed motion, it is a matter of getting the appropriate line agencies to give presentations online.

“Even if they were to attend in person, the boardroom can only hold so many people,” said Gisborne. “Is it necessary to have these people come all the way to Powell River to present for the board and maybe five or 10 members of the public?

“We should take the silver lining from COVID-19 and consider streaming our board meeting on YouTube, so anyone can see it at any time, so if there is confusion from the public, we can link the video on YouTube and people can get informed from the presentation. Meeting electronically, we’ve already seen the impacts of a reduced carbon footprint and I’ve been hearing from other jurisdictions that don’t see how they could ever go back to meeting in person when they don’t have to drive several hours to get to a meeting room.”

Gisborne said he would like to move that the board direct staff to request electronic presentation from the appropriate line agencies to further understand the provincial approvals process and environmental regulations. He said that way, representatives will not have to travel to Powell River, reducing the carbon footprint.

“We will have an electronic record of their presentation, which we can then share with the public to better inform everyone,” said Gisborne.

The board carried the motion unanimously.

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