By Mike Archer. Chilliwack Mayor and Chair of the Fraser Valley regional District (FVRD) Sharon Gaetz has now rid herself of any environmentalist label by claiming only to be a concerned mother and grandmother – “I Never Have Called Myself An Environmentalist” – Gaetz – wanting to leave a better world behind her.
That better world apparently includes a toxic waste facility in a swamp by a nature preserve on the Fraser River.
No wonder she feels she has to dump her environmental credentials – even her children and grandchildren will find that a little hard to stomach.
There’s a problem with Gaetz’s on again/off again status as an environmentalist politician. For make no mistake, she uses her fight against Vancouver on the topic of air pollution as a center piece of her politicking and in her search for political support.
The environmentalists of the Fraser Valley have so few politicians who will take up their causes on a local level that Gaetz is able to virtually guarantee herself up to 1/3 or more of her vote count each election from the environmental community.
She manages to be seen as a liberal supporter while syphoning off socialist votes. It’s a brilliant strategy and has worked wonderfully for her. She has managed to fight fiercely and vocally for an issue on which the science and published academic materials are simply not on her side (the defence of the Fraser Valley airshed) and on which she has absolutely no power or authority (and therefore no way of being measured for her success or failure).
But when the rubber truly hits the road on an environmental issue of worldwide importance – the decision to allow a toxic waste facility to locate in Chilliwack – she announces that she is no environmentalist.
She had better make her position clear because a great many people who still get their information by reading newspapers would certainly say they thought she was an environmentalist and indeed that they voted for her because of that impression.
If she wants to blame the newspapers for giving people that impression it sounds a lot like shooting the messenger for delivering precisely the message you asked them to deliver.
If she wants to call my remarks about her dual political message – for/against the environment – “mean-spirited” I’ll disagree, but take the shot.
As the senior political representative for both the City of Chilliwack and for the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), how does she expect to be taken seriously by Vancouver or provincial politicians when she battles over an airshed which is more endangered by the auto-dependant city she is building at the east end of the Valley than by Vancouver’s attempt to reduce its carbon footprint?
What does she think is going to happen to the valley’s airshed when one of the trucks delivering the toxic waste crashes, as it inevitably will (perhaps into one of the diesel fume-spewing garbage trucks she would prefer to see driving Vancouver’s garbage through the airshed), and spews it’s contents all over the nearby nature reserve or worse, in the City of Chilliwack?
Gaetz has to come clean and explain why she is prepared to take credit for her un-winnable and meaningless stance on a phantom environmental issue like the airshed while disclaiming any environmental status on her toxic waste facility. She just can’t have it both ways.
Sharon Gaetz’s Track Record As Not an Environmentalist:
Gaetz’s Linkedin page lists “environmental awareness” as one of her skills and expertise
Gaetz is an environmental committee member of the UCBM
Gaetz campaigned on the strength of her claim that she “cares deeply about the environment”
Gaetz regularly speaks about the importance of the environment