VANCOUVER, B.C. – An interim moratorium on new resource development has been implemented in Northeastern B.C. to allow further engagement with affected communities and industries on long-term caribou protection strategies.
Blair Lekstrom’s report on caribou recovery has been released by the Government which makes 14 recommendations, including the call for the interim moratorium and the continuous work with the Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations to protect the region’s caribou herds.
“Blair Lekstrom has recommended that we press the pause button on new resource development and take more time to engage with affected communities and industries while taking necessary steps to protect caribou,” said Premier John Horgan. “Everyone in the Peace region agrees that we need to recover our caribou herds and protect local jobs. Regrettably, this issue has divided communities and provoked sentiments that have no place in British Columbia. The only way we will make progress is by working together. We must listen and work collaboratively to find the best solution.”
The announcement of the Government’s intention to sign the Southern Mountain Caribou Bilateral Conservation Agreement, Section 11, was also made as the agreement establishes a framework for co-operation between Canada and B.C. to work collaboratively with Indigenous nations, local governments, industry and communities to develop caribou management plans for southern mountain caribou.
“Chief Ken Cameron of the Saulteau First Nation and Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nation have provided visionary leadership on caribou recovery. We are asking them to work with our government and the federal government as we engage with community, industry and stakeholder groups to protect this iconic species while supporting a healthy local economy.” said the Premier
The Government says that in the past 20 years, the numbers in the central group of the southern mountain caribou population have faced serious decline. This has called-to-action engagement with the public and Indigenous communities and the prohibition of new high-impact forestry and mining activities, while negotiations on a long-term caribou management strategy are underway.
Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, said, “We’re taking these actions because we want to protect the caribou herds while limiting potential economic impacts. This allows us to look after the interests of workers and communities as we take real action to recover the herds.”
In March 2019, the Draft Section 11 Agreement Draft Partnership Agreement and public engagement on caribou recovery took place. In April, the Premier appointed Lekstrom as the community liaison in which Lekstrom will continue to engage residents and act between the Government and communities in regards to caribou protection plans.