FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With B.C., Ottawa, the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations reaching a recent draft agreement on caribou recovery, local MLAs are voicing their concerns.
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.
“The main issue and concern is that it has taken a long time for Government to actually release this draft. It’s taken a long time and now they’re only giving four or five weeks for the public, the local government, and stakeholders to comment.”
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.
“It’s way too late. We’ve been asking for over a year now to be included in the consultation. We’ve been asking on behalf of stakeholders to be included in the consultations and now they have come out with a draft plan. Unfortunately, it’s a draft plan and all stakeholders should have a had a play in how that looked and how that’s rolled out.”
Both Bernier and Davies feel that the Government will go ahead with the draft agreement and then consult with stakeholders after the fact.
Bernier hopes that the Government will remove the short timeline they have given for consultation as stakeholders will need more time to provide comment and feedback on the draft agreement before they can accept it.
“The Government needs to back away from this pressure that they have given to everybody in the Region, that they only have, basically, until the end of April to digest this and actually comment. Stakeholders and groups are going to need more time than that.”
According to the Government, this draft is to offer temporary protection to the central caribou population in British Columbia while a long-term plan is developed.