A Pitt Meadows councillor said a balance between the environment and economics is possible after listening to a presentation from Fin Donnelly, member of Parliament for New Westminster-Coquitlam-Port Moody and deputy West Coast Fisheries critic.
"There can be a balance between economic development and the environment. Loosening the controls or rules when dealing with our rivers and lakes is not the way to do it. Economic development should not happen to the detriment of the environment," said Councillor Bruce Bell.
Bell was one of about 80 people who attended the meeting on Monday night which was hosted by Donnelly.
Donnelly told the room full of interested residents and local politicians that recent changes made to Bill C-45 and Bill C-38 will cause damage to the fishery and the environment.
"The Conservative government has made changes to long-standing legislation that will seriously weaken environmental protection without having a transparent and respectful discussion with Canadians," said Donnelly.
"What we learned [Monday] night was that the rules and controls over our lakes and rivers in Canada are being eroded in the interest of economics," Bell said.
Bell explained that Canada had restrictions with regards to development on more than 2,000 lakes and rivers in Canada and now that number is down to less than 200.
"The only lakes and rivers in our area that are protected are the Fraser, the Pitt including Pitt Lake, Harrison River and Harrison Lake. Surprisingly, not the Alouette River or [Alouette] Lake," he added.
The federal government recently made changes in their Budget Implementation Acts - Bill C-45 and Bill C-38 - that have "gutted the Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act," explained Donnelly.
The changes have removed controls and rules for environmental assessments, providing less oversight for big industrial projects, Donnelly added.
According to Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission MP Randy Kamp, parliamentary secretary of fisheries and oceans, the changes were made to "better focus protection on the fisheries that Canadians value: fisheries of commercial, recreational and Aboriginal significance."