District of Houston municipal office and council chambers.

Squamish requests letter of support from Houston council

On Aug 1, 2017 at the District of Houston council chambers a letter was received from the District of Squamish requesting a letter of support from council in their efforts to submit three resolutions for consideration at the 2017 UBCM convention regarding provincial environmental assessment process and sexual assault forensic kits.

Patricia Heintzman, Mayor for the District of Squamish writes that they are requesting for compensation for staff time spent on environmental assessments. “The provincial and federal environmental assessment processes are not the direct jurisdiction of local governments and therefore not subject to associated service cost recovery fees and cost of public engagement.”

She adds, “Therefore it be resolved that the provincial government set up a funding system to allow for local governments to be compensated for the staff time spent including research, review, technical and working group participation, and to augment and support community engagement during the entire process.”

Heintzman also writes that there is a need for improvements to the provincial environmental assessment process.

“Whereas a project subject to provincial environmental assessment process can be separated into different environmental processes or excluded from the process altogether such as hydro, gas supply, navigation etc., because of this there is no cumulative analysis that creates a clear picture of the entire impact of a proposal, including the five pillars of environmental assessment,” said Heintzman.

The five environmental pillars include economic, social, environmental, health and heritage.

“Thereby distorting and potentially minimizing the magnitude of the impact or understanding by the community and local government,” added Heitznman.

Heintzman is requesting that the province consider projects in their entirety when evaluating them through the environmental assessment office.

Forensic sexual assault evidence kits are not funded by the Ministry of Health and are not always readily available when survivors of sexual assault need medical forensic examinations, says Heintzman.

“[Survivors] should not be expected to travel further than 50 kilometers to facilitate equitable access to justice and associated resources,” said Heintzman.

Heintzman is requesting that it be resolved that the provincial government move funding form the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Justice and fund comprehensive for 24 hours seven days a week access to services and staffing needed, including sexual assault nurse examiners, and to provide the sexual assault evidence kits in communities lacking in forensic services.

Houston council agreed to write a letter of support to the District of Squamish in favour of these resolutions.