VICTORIA, B.C. – A recent press release by Andrew Wilkinson shares his frustration with Premier Horgan’s plan for public consultation for engagement regarding the southern mountain caribou recovery program.
Wilkinson starts by saying “British Columbians have seen right through Premier Horgan’s last minute “public consultation” on caribou recovery efforts. It is clear that staging a half-hearted public engagement was the only thing the NDP deemed necessary to move forward with their pre-determined plan. Forget listening to local residents with years of experience and deep knowledge of the wildlife and land base, this sham consultation is meant simply to placate every rural and northern British Columbian who lives, works, and plays in the backcountry while ignoring their voices.”
The B.C. Government shared in a press release Tuesday, March 26th, 2019 they have scheduled community engagement sessions allowing the public to provide their feedback on two draft agreements to conserve southern mountain caribou populations.
“Thankfully, nobody is buying it. For months, regional districts and provincial MLAs begged the provincial government to hold meaningful public consultations on how British Columbia would work with Ottawa to put together an effective plan to increase the dwindling caribou population. Despite promises to engage the public, the Horgan government announced that a draft plan had been reached between the province, some First Nations, and the federal government before any consultation occurred. With a draft plan already agreed to, the NDP declared a short five-week consultation period ending on April 25th only a few days before Ottawa’s deadline.
It is said that staff from the Provincial and Federal Governments as well as the Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations will share information about the draft agreements and will answer questions.
- Chetwynd, Monday, April 1st, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Chetwynd Recreation Centre, 4552 North Access Rd.
- Fort St. John, Tuesday, April 2nd,5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre, 11308 Alaska Rd.
- Tumbler Ridge, Wednesday, April 3rd, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Trend Mountain Hotel and Conference Centre,375 Southgate St.
- Dawson Creek, Thursday, April 4th, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Encana Events Centre, #1 300 Hwy. 2
Wilkinson shares his concern of this plan will have a major impact on the forest, mining, and tourism industries, noting recreational users may also find themselves unable to access the backcountry as a result.
“We all want caribou numbers to rebound to a healthy level, but this can only be achieved if the public becomes an active part of the conversation. The fact that local knowledge and on-the-ground experience has been so overlooked, and only brought into the picture as a token afterthought once the plan had already been drafted, should trouble any observer,” said Wilkinson
Local MLAs are voicing their concerns about the plan for public consultation;
MLA for Peace River South, Mike Bernier, says he is concerned that the Government took a long time to release a draft and will not provide a long enough time frame for public consultation on the agreement.
Peace River North MLA, Dan Davies, echos the concerns that Bernier has on the issue saying that the Government is not providing enough time for public consultation on the draft and that stakeholders should have been included in the process.
Both Bernier and Davies feel that the Government will go ahead with the draft agreement and then consult with stakeholders after the fact.