Don’t let the environment become a red herring

I got into some controversy last year when I defended the City of Moncton for deciding to use some of the highway frontage land around Mapleton Park for commercial use. I got calls, emails and blog posts decrying me as a cigar chomping hater of dhickadees. But the truth of the matter was that land was never officially part of the park and the amount to be used was less than 0.05% of Moncton’s total park acreage. Further, Moncton has one of the highest concentrations of parkland of any urban area in Canada.

But that didn’t matter to a lot of people. They just heard the words parkland in the same sentence as ‘commercial development’ and freaked out. We were going to threaten Moncton’s entire way of life and it would be an ecological disaster.

Now, admittedly, people do have some right to be skeptical. After all, government officials in the past did build the causeway, did build a dump on the banks of the river – among other things.

But I just think we need to inject rationality into this type of discussion.

Consider the story that there may be oil deposits around Turtle Creek. A few people have expressed outrage at the environmental concerns related to this. For some folks it’s like a trigger in the brain: oil = bad.

If there is oil out there and if it can be extracted in an environmentally friendly way – we should not try and obstruct development on some theoretical grounds.

I get a tired of people that yak on about environmental ‘stewardship’ and ‘sustainability’ and protection our environment for ‘future generations’ and then ignore and directly obstruct any efforts to talk about economic ‘stewardship’ and ‘sustainability’ and protection of our ‘way of life’ for ‘future generations’.

New Brunswick is going in the wrong direction in an economic sense, folks. More people are moving out than in and we grow more dependant on Equalization daily.

If environmentalists would like to see New Brunswick turned into one big nature conservation, they might just get their wish.

But that’s not my vision for this province.