Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser took a stand on protecting B.C.’s caves in the legislature last month.
Fraser, an avid spelunker, introduced a private member’s bill to protect B.C.’s caves for generations to come in the province’s legislature on May 12.
“In British Columbia we don’t have any adequate legislation compared to other jurisdictions in the world,” Fraser said. “[Caves] are the most vulnerable ecosystems and the most fragile ecosystems in the world and we have a wealth of them on the coast in British Columbia, and on Vancouver Island especially.”
The Cave protection Act, Fraser said, would be based on the American Cave Protection Act and would include regulations to prevent vandalism and damaging of caves.
“Caves are often in sink holes, that’s how you enter them and sometimes the sink holes are just used as garbage dumps,” Fraser said.
As a cave explorer himself, Fraser is passionate about protecting Vancouver Island’s caves – the largest concentration of caves in North America.
A few years ago Fraser was exploring a cave system above Sproat Lake with a mid-Island cave group where they discovered a rare bug that was sent to universities. Scientists determined it was a new species that has never been documented before.
Caves are a major transmitter of water, Fraser said, and in many cases they’re underground rivers that provide nutrients for organisms, creatures and salmon.
“You can’t ignore science,” Fraser said.
“I would submit that the former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, did exactly that.”
A petition in support of Fraser’s bill had almost 200 supporters as of June 20 and is due to be delivered to federal and provincial officials as well as advocacy groups.
Fraser has received support for his bill from top scientists and experts from around the world.
“They’re saying that B.C. is not living up to what they need to do to protect these systems compared to the rest of the world and that they need to support this bill,” Fraser said.
Fraser first introduced the Cave Protection Act in 2010, but the B.C. Liberal government failed to pass it.