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Report conclusions: A cole’s notes for boaters

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    Peter Karwacki

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    (1) LARK feels it was not properly heard,
    (2) language and communication issues explain part of the problem or animosities that developed,
    (3) The people running the EA didn’t value the recreational resource provided by the sluice,
    4) Other agendas dominated the outcome and
    (5) Denial of the rights raised by stakeholders represented by LARK allowed this group’s concerns to be dismissed.

    On paper at least, the consultation process appears satisfactory, but in reality, it is very difficult for the general public to participate in Environmental Assessments.

    1. At the rule making stage, there is a lack of stakeholder balance. The sheer weight of industry representation relative to public representation indicates that public interests take second place to industry interests. Individuals tend to be marginalized or labeled as fringe viewpoints.

    2. Most environmental, public health or community-oriented groups are hindered from participation and disadvantaged due to the resources, technical expertise and legal advice required. At the individual permit level, public notices usually go unnoticed because the majority of the public does not read the legal notice section of the local newspaper or the parliamentary gazette. In the case of Les Amis, their particular interest was well known, they could have, at the very least, been placed on a mailing list for concerned parties.

    The use of technical language alienates the public and does not address public concerns, which are primarily related to the environment or public health.

    3. Background and supporting material pertaining to permit applications is often difficult to identify and obtain even though federal court judges have ruled they must be.

    4. Public engagement at the individual permit level does little to affect the outcome. A legal challenge is the only option available to the public and interest groups. Because of the time and expense involved legal challenges generally are not feasible, and are used only in cases where the environmental and public health concerns are very significant.

    A number of the problems have been identified in the public involvement process and these would be exacerbated by government staff cutbacks. For example, a bridge was constructed across the Kipawa by TEMBEC without a proper EA. With a greatly reduced staff, there is less time to assist the public to find, identify and obtain the information necessary to determine if the public has an interest in a permitting issue.

    (LARK) is the first NGO to come forward, having mobilized in time, to launch a judicial review which may change the direction of a government project already in progress. Had they done nothing, all would be lost, if successful, the sluice will be preserved for all Canadian Paddlers in a state that has existed for almost 100 years.


    thanks Peter, from all of us! I’ve never paddled the Kipawa (shame) but the cause being faught for is indeed of major importance. The coles version is most welcome to a busy parent/paddler/business owner. As loudly as possible THANK YOU!

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