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The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
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June 2003

    BC Environmental Network Faces Critical Situation

    Sid Chow Tan

    It was back to basics on principles and a vow to build and be new at the annual British Columbia Environmental Network summer gathering June 7 at the University of British Columbia. Facing severe funding cuts, the network of currently 125 environmental groups affirmed its commitment to grassroots self-organized and self-sustaining issue caucuses. It also vowed to increase its profile while publishing the popular BCEN Report magazine, building the network web site and on-line communications and returning to community television with member group programming.

    At the evening's dinner and dance, Lloyd Manchester was presented with the Wild Earth Award from Rick Careless of BC Spaces for Nature. The annual award acknowledges lifetime dedication, perseverance and accomplishment in protecting nature in British Columbia. A former tugboat worker, Manchester cut his environmental teeth fighting rampant pesticides use, help found the Canadian EarthCare Society based in Kelowna and served numerous terms as director of the BCEN and its Educational Foundation.

    Though the network is often open for criticism for being too coast-centric, the current six-member board is drawn from throughout the province. From "the regions" are Chris Blake of the Quesnel River Watershed Society, Steve Rison of the Dawson Creek Citizen's Advisory for Environmental Research and Dave Neads of the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society. From the coast are Dona Reel of BC Spaces for Nature based in Gibsons, Peter Bromley of the Rivershed Society of BC based on the mainland coast and Jeff Paleczny of the Sierra Club of BC based in Victoria.

    Two directors who expressed a desire to continue but did not seek re-election were Andrea Goldsmith of Gibsons and Fin Donnelly of Coquitlam. They were elected councillors in the recent civic elections and cited increased responsibilities and stepped down at the end of their terms. In Vancouver, the recent civic election saw David Cadman become a city councillor and Lyndsay Poaps become a parks board commissioner. Both stepped down as BCEN co-chairs when their terms ended in the summer of 2002.

    At its peak in 1995, the BCEN received close to $150,000 for core- funding from provincial government sources that included Forest Renewal BC and gaming revenue. Once exceeding 250 environmental groups, the 22-year old province-wide network does not take a position on environmental issues.

    However, its caucuses do after a canvas of membership for disagreements.

    The BCEN is a regional network of the Canadian Environmental Network, a nation-wide umbrella organization with a current membership of 1,500 environmental groups.


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