Vivian ChuiOmineca Express
Vanderhoof may be no stranger to clean air, water, and food, and the District has now declared citizens’ official right to them.
Representatives of the Enviro-Vikes, environmental club students at the Nechako Valley Secondary School, presented to the district council a model municipal declaration on the right to a healthy environment last Monday.
“It’s not making our district accountable for anything,” said Kathy Russell, the club’s staff sponsor. “It’s giving them guidelines, hopefully to support initiatives that are already in place.”
The declaration is part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot project, which aims to add environmental rights into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by gathering support from seven out of 10 provinces, which would represent more than 50 per cent of the Canadian population, according to the foundation.
“As Canadians, we feel like we do have a healthy environment and we take it for granted, and we just assume that it’s in our Charter of Rights,” Russell said. “It turns out that we’re one of the minority of countries that doesn’t have it written in our Charter.”
She noted that 76 municipal governments across Canada have currently signed the declaration, while only six communities had in November, when the Enviro-Vikes met David Suzuki at a luncheon in November.
For District Councillor Kevin Moutray, the new declaration goes along with the council’s mindset.
“We have a green event policy for when the council hosts events,” Moutray said. “We try to look out for the environment where we can, within our limited area of jurisdiction.”
He noted that the council has doubled the amount of reusable place settings to 200 sets in the Green Toolkit last year, which is available for rental from the Nechako Valley Waste Reduction Initiative.
For the students, who were mostly graduating and have been involved with the environment club for five years, it’s a final project for a cause they are very passionate about, Russell added.
“When we went to the tour, they were just so inspired by David Suzuki’s speech,” she said. “They wanted to take it to our community.”