The Cariboo-Chilcotin Teachers Association (CCTA) is opposing the burning of rail ties in Wiliams Lake by Atlantic Power.
“The whole issue of environmental awareness and global changes in weather coupled with the fact that this was an issue right in our own back yard playing out as we speak, we have several members who felt that it was important that we give voice as an association to oppose the fact that we don’t want to see this environmental hazard develop any further,” CCTA President Murray Helmer said.
The CCTA according to Helmer voiced its opposition at its annual general meeting on Wednesday, May 22 with the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) expressing similar opposition at its Spring Resprensative Assembly held Saturday, June 1 in Richmond.
The motion was brought before the provincial teachers’ body by CCTA Vice President and local BCTF rep Jessica Hill. It was even more specific and also opposed any change to B.C.’s Clean Energy Act that would allow the electricity generated from the burning of rail ties to be considered as clean energy.
“We did take the motion down after we had our annual meeting,” Helmer said.
“We have a lot of environmental justice activity going on in the association right now and this just seemed like a fitting piece to fit with what we were discussing already around climate change and student action on things like that.”
The Panel of the Environmental Appeal Board upheld Atlantic Power’s permit amendment for burning rail ties in a 65-page decision in April.
Helmer said having attended a delegation to Williams Lake City Council by the Rail Ties Be Wise Group, he believes a second look at what is transpiring through the provincial bodies is needed.
“With the chemicals that are in the rail ties I think there is a distinct potential for a lot of loss of quality of life here and it really needs to be looked at in the long term,” he said.
“Right now it seems to be out of local Council’s hands. It’s between BC Hydro and the environment minister, and they’re looking to see if the Clean Energy Act can be amended to allow rail ties to be burned and still have it considered to be clean energy so I think the important piece is still happening provincially which is why our provincial body got involved as well.”