Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley was set to respond to Tuesday’s Speech from the Throne by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon with a half-hour speech of his own in the provincial legislature on Thursday. The Speech from the Throne mentioned amendments to water-rights legislation that Routley planned to discuss, saying they focus on “out-dated notions of commodifying water.”
“I see our water as a public resource, and something that should be managed in the public interest,” he said.
Amendments to the Water Act, Routley noted, will continue in the first-in rights spirit of the bill that was adopted in 1909, something that he feels needs to be changed.
“Those rights will still be there in the revised act,” he said.
Local groups ranging from the Shawnigan Residents Association to the Cowichan Valley Regional District and Cowichan Tribes all have position papers on the Water Act, and Routley planned to highlight their positions in his speech.
Routley also intended to bring up the issue of dumping contaminated soil in watersheds with relation to immediate concerns in the Shawnigan Lake area. Contamination in Cowichan Lake, he said, was one of the things that got him involved in politics initially.
“My speech will focus on how we will die within 72 hours without water, yet we humans are doing such terrible things to it,” he said.
Routley had other issues with Tuesday’s Throne Speech.
“A lot of it is smoke and mirrors, which this government is very good at,” he said.
The speech was “certainly not inspiring,” in Routley’s words.
“It was recycled information from the past,” he said. “A lot of the programs have been already introduced.”
Routley couldn’t understand how the plan to sell liquor in grocery stores was beneficial, either.
“I haven’t had any of my constituents come in and say that what we really need is more liquor stores,” he said.
In a press release, Premier Christy Clark praised the Throne Speech’s focus on controlling spending and creating jobs.
“The way to create jobs is to grow our economy, elevating British Columbians from all walks of life,” she said.
“In this session we will continue to deliver on our plan for a strong economy and a secure tomorrow,” Clark said.
“Governments in the Western world face a stark choice: finding new ways to grow their economies, or managing decline. British Columbians chose a strong economy, and we will deliver.”