What is a reasonable balance to ensure earth’s sustainability and our economic sustainability?

Dan Dibbelt
Smoky River Regional Economic Development
I have never been much on New Year’s Eve or day. It has always seemed odd to me to pick an arbitrary day to set out new resolutions. If I choose to lose weight, procrastinate less, exercise more, or adopt some other life- changing habit, I don’t see the sense in waiting until January 1. Why not today or tomorrow?

I also don’t fully understand the point of celebrating the start of a new year. I am pretty much happy when I wake up each morning, can see, can get out of bed and walk across the room and can carry on with my life. Now I don’t get up each morning mix a pitcher of margaritas and invite a bunch of friends over each morning to celebrate my “getting out of bed” accomplishment, but I pretty much give the day thumbs up.

The concept of waiting until January 1 to adopt a life-changing habit seems a bit like procrastination to me. That being said, kudos to anyone who has decided to do just that. And in honour of all of you, I too chose to adopt a new habit January 1, 2017.

When the NDP government took over the government I must admit I was somewhat apprehensive. I, like most people, think some of what the NDP stand for is good. I think we are all environmentalists to some degree. We all want to keep the earth sustainable and pristine for our children. We all want to ensure the quality of our air, our soil and want our water to remain healthy. We all want to ensure we leave the earth in good shape when we go.

I think where people choose to differ is what we view as a reasonable balance to ensure earth’s sustainability and our economic sustainability.
There is a cost to being environmentally friendly and we each need to determine what cost we are each willing to pay.

Of course, supporting changes that are more environmentally friendly is easier for those people who aren’t truly affected by the change. Slowing down oil production has a minimal effect on an accountant in downtown Edmonton, but has a major effect on the people working at the drilling sites, transporting oil by truck, or those businesses that supply services to the oilfield.

Naturally any region of Alberta that is a producer of oil will suffer, just like oilfield workers. A loss of jobs in a small rural region has a big impact on everyone from the local grocery store, to the tire shop to the local restaurants.

Ten jobs lost in a community of 1,000 people is the equivalent of a City like Edmonton losing 1,000 jobs. And then there is of course the ripple effect. Ten full-time jobs in oil ripple down to all those other businesses mentioned and with reduced sales those businesses may also need to let staff go or reduce hours.

It is nothing new that provincial politicians are based out of Edmonton with the majority being urban MLAs with little or no rural experience and they are making policy decisions that affect rural Alberta. What does appear to be new, however, is we as rural residents, seem to have far less say or influence.

So I tried for the past year to keep an open mind and give the NDP a chance. Throughout the year a number of policies have been implemented, most I don’t see as being really positive for rural Albertans.

But I don’t know that it is fair to blame the NDP alone. I blame the big urban dwellers for many of the NDP decisions. As an example, the people in downtown Vancouver protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project. I realize the pipeline decision was a federal decision, but clearly Premier Notley and the NDP support it and they should.

It is however, the people who live in large concrete jungles that unlike rural areas, send massive amounts of green house gasses into the air, that walk around in clothes made in Chine and surround themselves with products made from oil products and are so far removed from the reality of what they are using is produced, that I take exception to.

If the people in Vancouver are truly worried about the environment, why don’t they move to northern BC where oil tankers do not travel along the shoreline? Why not move to a northern community and live in a house off the grid? Why not live in a rural area, and give up electricity, natural gas and running water and modern toilets?

Now that is a New Year’s resolution I would like to see urban dwellers take on.

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