MVC to remain in watershed alliance
Mountain View County will continue to be a member of the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance for at least another year in the hopes it can change the advisory body from within, council decided last week.
The decision, to renew membership for $6,180 and appoint Reeve Bruce Beattie to the board of directors, followed a damning indictment of the organization by Div. 6 Coun. Paddy Munro at the end of Wednesday’s council meeting.
Repeating many of the points he raised when criticizing the watershed alliance in February, Munro said the organization is controlled by industry “to get an industry-supported approach” to environmental issues and provides “no benefits to the county.”
“The philosophy is look good but don’t do anything real.” Munro said.
“Absolutely they are in no way interested in adding municipal representation. It’s totally controlled by Alberta Environment and Water. They’ve done everything important till now in-camera. There’s no public participation. In their AGM they’re going to pass a motion that no public members can sit at their meetings.”
“I would like to change some of these things that you raise,” Beattie (Div. 4) said. “I would like to participate because I think they have the potential to serve a useful purpose.”
“Bruce, I have total respect for you but I do not have total respect for this organization,” Munro said. “All the private members have quit because they have no voice or authority. Special interest groups have all the control.”
Div. 7 Coun. Al Kemmere asked how the county would have a voice if it removed itself from the decision-making process. When he went on to say the alliance had “done some good work” producing reference documents, Munro responded, “Give me a break. They used millions of taxpayer dollars and produced 900 pages of trivial B.S.”
Ignoring the impacts of oil and gas as well as logging, Munro said, “this is the insane document these people are using so they don’t have a base to be working from. It’s off the wall. This is not a real protection of our watershed. You would help us to get Alberta Environment back in line instead of being cronies of industry.”
While Munro urged council to pull its funding, CAO Tony Martens advised against the move.
“Even if you can’t effect changes from inside, at least you’ve got that information so we can be our own lobby. I see a benefit to being on the board because it gives us a chance to change what they’re doing,” Martens said.
Div. 5 Coun. Bob Orr suggested funding the group for one more year to see if changes occur.
“But by pulling funding we’ll have no say.”
Beattie told Munro that he agreed with many of his comments.
“And if that’s what I find I assure you I will not sit quietly and listen to it.”
But Munro, who has represented the county as a public member, was unequivocal.
“The difference is I have sat there and I’ve seen the manipulation by industry. Alberta Environment has oversight on any documents they produce. I am so disappointed in this group and just disgusted in their whole procedure,” he said.
In the end, only Munro voted against the motion reinstating funding to the group.