I HAD A WONDERFUL DOG once; a border collie, black lab cross. We had so many adventures together, looking for new doggie experiences. Along the way, we visited every City of Kamloops dog park, in search of doggie happiness.
Last week (Jan. 3, 2019), Trans Mountain announced it would contribute $170,000 for the construction of a new dog park on Aviation Way in Brocklehurst to mitigate the disruption their pipeline construction will cause to the existing dog park on Ord Road.
Hail to Trans Mountain for building Kamloops a new dog park. I predict many happy dogs and dog owners visiting the park in the future. The park is located in a great location, and will be well used and well loved.
The park will certainly make for happy Kamloops dogs. But the elephant in the room, whether we acknowledge it or not, is the looming climate change emergency.
Having lived through our own forest fire climate disaster, we now watch Australia burn. They are experiencing what we went through, only worse, with mounting losses of life, half a billion animals killed, and towns and villages destroyed.
It is not loss of dog parks from pipeline construction we need to be mitigating against. We need to mitigate against increasing greenhouse gases, and climate change emergencies.
But as a city, as a country, as a world, there is a lack of political will to make meaningful changes to avoid the worsening effects of climate change.
I can count myself in the company of ineffective politicians. Back in 2002, when I was on Kamloops City Council, Trans Mountain made a presentation to council on the proposed twinning of their pipeline through Kamloops. Then, through the following years, they came back multiple times.
My fellow councillors and I raised concerns, but at the end of the day we simply asked to have intervenor status during the environmental review, to have input into the plans for the pipeline through the City of Kamloops proper. One of the specific concerns I had was to reduce the impact of the pipeline construction in the sensitive grasslands.
As well, City council required financial compensation from Trans Mountain. Hence the $170,000 for the dog park. The City will also net $700,000 at the start of the pipeline construction in compensation.
That money is earmarked for roadway beautification along the Tranquille/airport corridor. And, based on the current tax rates, Trans Mountain will pay millions of dollars more to the City in additional property/utility taxes over the life of the pipeline.
At the end of the day, the Kamloops council has not sanctioned or tried to stop the pipeline as was the case of the City of Burnaby. The Kamloops council simply wanted reassurances that things would be done to environmental standards and that the City would receive financial benefits of having the pipeline go through the city.
I remember in this 2019 fall federal election, the federal Liberals repeatedly argued that building the Trans Mountain pipeline would give the country the resources to tackle climate change and move towards lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Doggie parks make dogs and their owners happy. But they do nothing to address the climate change emergency.
Now, what needs to happen, is that every time we increase our carbon-producing lifestyle, such as by the quadrupling of Trans Mountain’s petroleum pipeline, we have to take an equal measure to reduce emissions.
Doggie parks for happy dogs are wonderful. But we are fiddling as Rome burns. The City of Kamloops needs to take the revenues they receive from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and invest in concrete actions to counter climate change. We are at the point where happy dogs shouldn’t be the City of Kamloops’ highest priority. Without action, the mega fires of Australia are a foretaste of our own future.
There are many ways the City can use the revenues from Trans Mountain to reduce emissions. First, they can expand transit, and add express buses. Fewer private car trips reduce emissions and helps us all get around the city more easily.
Second, they can create an energy exchange between the large computer server installations on McGill, such as at Thompson Rivers University, and the Tournament Capital Centre, to reuse heat and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Third, they can expand safe, separated bike infrastructure so more people can bike safely. Fourth, the garbage truck fleet could be converted to electric vehicles. Finally, they can provide density bonusing in the centre of the city to reduce sprawl and transportation emissions.
Every dog loves a dog park. I loved going to the city dog parks with my dog. But the world doesn’t need more than dog parks now. What we need now are concrete ways to reduce our carbon emissions.
Building the pipeline has definitely given the City of Kamloops extra resources. But if all we do with our extra revenue from Trans Mountain is build doggie parks, our future is grim.
Just as the Federal Liberals promised, the City of Kamloops needs to use revenues from the pipeline to tackle climate change, not build dog parks.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.