Goodbye Sustainability

hello big bills

Contemporary regulatory pressures in BC are going to have a strong influence on the sustainability of many small communities. It looks like things that have worked for a long time are going to be brought into the vicious cycle of more and more expensive equipment mandated by the ideology of modern living and the related pressure to get more money into the hands of industry.

This kind of problem pops up in many places, and Coalmont is one of them. Like the rest of the province, we now have septic regulations that seem designed to spiral into a never ending money pit that feeds an industry that didn’t need help in the first place. Our town is now poised on the brink of that precipice. After more than 100 years of old fashioned sustainability, we are about to be forced into contemporary non-sustainable compliance.

There has never been a problem with septics in Coalmont. Simply put, there aren’t enough of us to cause problems as long as we keep the septics 100 feet from the nearest well. Now they can put them much closer and there is no guarantee that this is going to work. In fact I can virtually guarantee you that it won’t. The reason I can do that is that the success of the enabling technology depends on people doing a lot of work and spending a lot of money. Those two things run counter to human nature and that’s all the proof that I need.

The new rules not only threaten safety, they also take all responsibility away from the government and put it in the hands of industry. An industry that wants to sell you things. I am certain that they are going to come up with all kinds of arguments for why we need their septic or other solution. Salesmen talk like that. They’re strongly motivated because they want your money and there is no historical reason to believe them, particularely because they’re talking about health and safety. When it comes to a conflict of interest, money trumps ideology.

The thing that bothers me most is that the new technology which is being sold now has the potential to not only destroy our fine record of sustainability, but to destroy our very community.

The new regulations allow developers to circumvent the official community plan and build non-conforming residences despite the social and environmental impact. Once a developer installs a new type septic system next to a neighbour’s well, then that neighbour is going to have a problem in the future. That will be the beginning of a cycle where the only fix is going to be more technology and expensive infrastructure. The logical conclusion is going to be government mandated water and sewerage systems. One has to wonder if this is a deliberate side effect or they just didn’t care.

In the long run there is going to be a lot of benefit to developers, engineers, and green technology salesmen. The fact is that over time people will be on the hook to pay huge sums to these profiteers. This is a low income area so some people will likely lose their homes. Unless the septic regulations get rewritten, Coalmontians most certainly will lose their sustainability.

~ Ole Juul

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