A letter writer argues the South Fraser Perimeter Road will indeed pass through historical and important areas of Burns Bog.

Burns Bog borders a ‘handy fiction’

How can citizens be expected to uphold the law when its enforcers can and do violate it in every way with impunity?

Re: “Federal court rules against bog society,” The Leader, Sept. 4.

Your paper’s statement, which is similar to other such claims in previous articles, that “the SFPR will not pass through the bog, though a small stretch will run adjacent to the wetlands,” is completely inaccurate.

The historical extent of the peatland, wetland, fen, and swamp forest with a significant sphagnum bog component known as Burns Bog, is well known. And the South Fraser Perimeter Road runs atop deep Burns Bog peat through a considerable stretch of the bog, not “adjacent to [it].”

This is why the federal government claim “that environmental assessments had been completed on the SFPR, and they found no adverse effects were likely to occur to the bog” is so absurd. Besides the creatures that will be flattened on the pavement, and the dust, fumes, and weed seeds, there is the physical obliteration of hectares of wetlands under lifeless asphalt.

A handy fiction has been invented about where Burns Bog truly is and which parts of it are essential for its continued existence to accommodate politicians’ disingenuousness. The most popular and ludicrous claim is that Burns Bog abruptly stops at the borders of the portion of the main private land owner holdings, which government chose to acquire, rendering all other lands “adjacent to Burns Bog.”

Federal Court Justice James Russell erred in claiming “Canada does not own any part of [the bog].” The South Fraser Perimeter Road runs through several lots of Burns Bog federal land, which the port authority has been landfilling without going through the required process and in violation of the federal protective covenant. Indeed, the very federal service – Environment Canada – charged with enforcing the covenant protecting the bog built a weather station in violation of its own covenant right in the Burns Bog ecological conservancy.

How can citizens be expected to uphold the law when its enforcers can and do violate it in every way with impunity – even, in the case of SFPR, with a judge’s endorsement?

The federal government invested several million dollars in the purchase of Burns Bog, which is jointly administered, jointly controlled, jointly invested in, and jointly “owned” by four levels of government. Representatives of each of these levels of government sit on the scientific advisory panel overseeing the Burns Bog ecological conservancy.

It is unfortunate that West Coast Environmental Law relied so heavily in this court case on the affidavit (dismissed by the judge as “irrelevant”) of one person in the Burns Bog Conservation Society.

 

Don DeMille

Surrey North Delta Leader

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