FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce has joined a list of BC Chambers in a Coalition to support the petition started by Dawson Creek Chamber.
The FSJ Chamber of Commerce goes on to say that although the FSJ area is not directly affected by the current Caribou closure plans in section 11, it’s the unintended effects that will impact all communities within the region and all around the province that is of the greatest concern.
Section 11 sets out the overall relationship between BC and Canada, and it gives a sense of where the recovery process may go. Section 11 currently identifies 54 herds across the province and leaves a lot of questions around what potential land management could look like shared the FSJ Chamber of Commerce.
“Meaningful economic and social analyses is critical to working with communities and sectors so that decisions are fully informed and reflect the entire scope of the impact. ” Says Christopher Flury, Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce, President.
In November 2018 the Dawson Creek Chamber demanded socio-economic Impact Assessments for the North East region prior to finalization of Section 11 and Partnership Agreements on Caribou Recovery.
On April 10th, 2019, the petition was delivered to the house with over 35,000 signatures demanding that all negotiations halt immediately and the Provincial Government negotiation teams and all government agencies:
1) Consult openly with ALL users, stakeholders, businesses, and local government
2) Immediately begin economic and socio-economic impact studies on the North East
3) Provide baseline data on populations and relevant science-based studies to support
closures and recovery plans.
In November 2018, the Concerned Citizens for Caribou Recovery group, led by the Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce has been actively working to bring the issues identified with section 11 to the public, government and key stakeholders. The group has been actively working to bring to light the socio-economic impacts that section 11 (in its current form) could bring to the Province.
Public Consultations did not happen until now when the Provincial Government (after
increased pressure) opened up their consultation to public comment at the end of March 2019 with a deadline to submit comments by May 3rd, 2019. The public can submit their feedback through the government’s online feedback form found at engage.gov.bc.ca/caribou.
Concerns regarding this online form have since surfaced by many Chambers, calling it cumbersome, very lengthy and convoluted. Some Chambers have taken the measures to offer open house events to walk participants through the online forms to ensure they are understanding them completely.
“We stand with our Chamber of Commerce organizations throughout our province in appealing to the BC Government to hit pause on the negotiations. The debates in the public sphere over the proposed caribou recovery program have really highlighted that proper engagement with land users and other stakeholders has not been completed, and the process taken for consultation has not been communicated well. The consultation seems rushed. Without a full understanding of the depth of the issues, how can the residents of BC ensure that all the potential impacts of the program have been considered?” responds Julie Ziebart – Chair of the Advocacy Committee, FSJ Chamber of Commerce.