Sierra Club of Canada: 1996 Rio Report Card

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1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: F

1995 Grade: F

1996 Grade: F

If we were grading for consistent performance, then Manitoba would be a winner -- the only jurisdiction in our annual report card process to maintain straight Fs over four years!

Manitoba is the only jurisdiction in the country reviewing the idea of creating protected areas within provincial parks. Most parks have or allow logging and mining licences. The logging licence to Louisiana Pacific will include all of the Duck Mountain Provincial Park. The planned clear-cutting, of up to 900,000 cubic metres of wood annually, is also slated to take place up along the north border of the Riding Mountain National Park. The logging permits for Pine Falls Paper Company also contains provincial parks (Nopoming and Whiteshell).

Manitoba is also the only province where an annual slaughter of pelicans and cormorants, thought mistakenly to be impacting commercial fishing, is tolerated.

The new boom logging previously commercially undesirable species is being brought about through a particularly polluting technology, the oriented strand board mill. The aspen forests which will be felled at an alarming rate along the Manitoba and Saskatchewan border are important habitat for neo-tropical birds. Thus far, the environmental review of the logging has been a joke‹inadequate, and not independent.

In another conflict between industrial logging and environmental values, a new road was approved to bring logs to the Pine Falls mill (formerly Abitibi Price), even though the road threatens a national Heritage River. The Bloodvein River is now compromised through a rushed process to approve a road down the east side of Lake Winnipeg. There were no hearings, no land-use plan, and no pre-surveys. It is not even known how many streams the new road is to cross.

Protected areas in Manitoba do not fare any better when confronted with potential mineral development. The proposed National Park for the Manitoba Lowlands has lost significant biodiversity through the withdrawal of the whole of the Thompson Nickel Belt.

Manitoba also has serious contamination issues that compromise biodiversity. Hog farms are potential major polluters and care must be taken to avoid harming fish habitat. Pesticide use is also a serious problem.

Winnipeg has the distinction of being the most heavily pesticide sprayed city in North America. This year the city has asked for permission to spray 60 different pesticides. This poses serious risks to biodiversity, as well as to human health.

Overall, the "F" for Manitoba may seem severe, but other areas of the province's environmental record are no more encouraging. The province's recent decision to open a super landfill site in Winnipeg is a case in point.


Manitoba - Climate Change

1993 Grade: -

1994 Grade: F

1995 Grade: D+

1996 Grade: D-

Carbon dioxide emissions (kilotonnes)
1990: 12,183
1994: 11,805
Decrease: 3.2 %

Numbers can be deceiving. The overall reduction masks increases in carbon dioxide emissions in Manitoba in:

kilotonnes 1990 1994
Residential 1,606 2,014
Industrial 1,313 1,154
Pipelines 818 1,157
Autos 1,884 1,934

Main reductions: were in cement production, power generation.

Manitoba's grade is lower this year because of the weakness of its climate program and disregard for its forests.

Manitoba's commitments on climate change are summarized in a two and one-quarter-page statement issued in November 1995. The "position" includes vague commitments to a sustainable development energy strategy, home energy saver workshops, R-2000 (energy efficient homes), and an education program for truckers.

The province had indicated that it would adopt the new National Energy Code for Buildings and Houses and that it would include some consideration of the environmental costs of energy consumption. The province is talking about voluntary guidelines because builders are whining. Who is protecting consumers?

Manitoba also is doing little to protect its forests which are critical sinks for carbon. According to the Sierra Club Prairie Chapter, "the forest environmental licence has just been issued to Louisana Pacific to cut up to 900,000 cubic metres of wood annually. Repap's volumes have been increased from 1.1 million cubic metres of soft wood to up to 2 million of a mixture of softwoods and hardwoods." On the positive side, the Club gives credit to Manitoba Hydro for its forest enhancement program with expenditures of $3.5 million over 10 years and its PowerSmart program.

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Copyright 1996 Sierra Club of Canada