VICTORIA, B.C. – Friday morning Chiefs of the West Moberly First Nations, Saulteau First Nations and Ministers of the British Columbia and Canadian governments signed the southern mountain caribou partnership agreement and a number of people have come out against it.
In January Blair Lekstrom expressed his frustration and quit as the Caribou Recovery Liaison over the lack of consultation with communities in the B.C. Peace. Premier Horgan brought Lekstrom on to help increase consultation, but Lekstrom says his recommendations were ignored.
Below are statements from local politicians and the forest industry.
Community Interviews with Moose FM
Bob Zimmer – MP Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies
“I am extremely disappointed in today’s announcement that the caribou partnership agreement has been signed without any real consultation with local leadership. This was done without formally consulting our mayors and councils, our regional district directors, our local Members of Legislative Assembly, myself as the local Member of Parliament, our local industry and other local First Nations.”
“We’ve been given a very clear signal from the Liberal government in Ottawa and the NDP government in Victoria that our opinion doesn’t matter. They have both chosen to completely ignore our local input, including those with expertise in caribou, during the public engagement process, as well as the growing concerns expressed by those living in the area.”
Mike Bernier – MLA Peace River South
“This is yet another slap in the face to rural British Columbia with John Horgan once again ignoring the concerns of local residents and stakeholders. John Horgan and the NDP never had any intention to adopt the 14 recommendations presented to government last June. Moving ahead without any meaningful input from the general public shows John Horgan’s disregard for this entire region of B.C.”
“People here in rural British Columbia have zero confidence in John Horgan or the NDP. They deliberately mislead local governments, businesses, and stakeholders,” added Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin. “The NDP promised to do better after their sham consultation but it’s now clear this whole farce was never genuine and was only done to provide political cover for John Horgan.”
Alan Courtoreille – District of Chetwynd Mayor
“Caribou recovery is at the core of this process,” stated District of Chetwynd Mayor Courtoreille; “Only by working together can we move forward to take meaningful action toward caribou recovery. And yet the Province has excluded local government from the beginning. Premier Horgan’s letter to us dated January 16, 2020 made it very clear that nothing in the draft Partnership Agreement would be changed and that Chetwynd would not be allowed to participate on the Caribou Recovery Committee that is referenced in the Partnership Agreement.”
Dan Rose – Peace River Regional District Electoral Area “E” Director
“The PRRD has stated all along that local involvement in caribou recovery will ensure its success. I will continue to try to find ways to heal the divisions that this process has inflicted on our communities. Mayor Courtoreille and I hope to meet with Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations soon to communicate community concerns and work together to mitigate them. We are one large community and we share challenges. Any negative impacts of the Partnership Agreement will have long lasting quality of life impacts as will any positive impacts. I believe the province is not capable of understanding reconciliation but our communities have lived and worked and played together for a long time and know how to solve problems. I sincerely believe collaboration among all our communities will provide the best way forward.”
BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) President and CEO Susan Yurkovich and Forest Products Association of Canada President and CEO Derek Nighbor
“The forest sector has long supported and participated in efforts to enhance caribou recovery and protection – working alongside partners to advance meaningful solutions, including actively supporting the Government of BC’s Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan and participating in population augmentation trials. We will continue to work to enhance caribou habitat populations and believe the Section 11 Agreement delegation to the Province provides us with a greater range of tools to do this
important work. However, we are deeply disappointed that the separate Partnership Agreement signed today permanently removes a significant amount of fibre from the timber
harvesting land base and creates additional operational uncertainty. This permanent removal further shrinks the working forest and will have negative impacts on forestry workers, communities and regional economies.”