Premier Horgan paid a special visit to Dawson Creek this week to announce the extension of public consultations on caribou recovery efforts by an additional four weeks. He also appointed Blair Lekstrom as a community liaison for our region in particular.
Blair is a well-known, highly trusted public figure and I am certain he will do a great job in making our local voices heard. My only wish is that Blair’s mandate be expanded to the whole province instead of just the Peace River area. There have literally been thousands of people showing up and packing meetings halls right across the province.
People are concerned about their jobs, they are worried about losing recreational access to the backcountry and most of all they feel that they have been completely left out of the entire discussion.
The fact that Horgan showed up in the northeast for the first time since he was elected in 2017, actually well before that, sends a signal of a deeply troubled process.
“My bad,” says Horgan who admits local government was excluded right from the beginning.
From my perspective, extending the deadline to a failed process won’t adequately address what the public wants out of these discussions. People want to know that their perspectives and opinions are taken into consideration BEFORE the government acts. I suppose we’ll know that if the draft agreements released on March 21 st change in any substantial way between now and May 31 st when the new deadline for public consultations end.
The two draft agreements signed between the West Moberly First Nations , the Saulteau First Nations, the province and Ottawa are said to serve as a possible model for the rest of B.C. I am not sure if that is possible considering these two first nations already have extensive experience with caribou conservation, which may not be at the same level in other communities. If Horgan is really serious about “dialing down public acrimony” then he has to revisit the whole process.
Hard working families in rural and northern B.C. deserve better.