PRRD joins provincial caribou recovery process Draft

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Tom Summer Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
The Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) supports the creation of original civic journalism. Tom Summer works under the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John. The content that is produced will be made available to media organizations through a Creative Commons license so that Canadians can be better informed.

Peace River Regional District chair Brad Sperling and vice-chair Dan Rose have been appointed to the stakeholder committees involved with the Southern Mountain Caribou Recovery Partnership Agreement. 

The decision was made at the May 7 board meeting. The topic continues to be a point of contention in Northeast BC, as local municipalities were not given any seats at the recovery table.

In April 2020, Executive Director Dave Muter for Species at Risk Recovery reached out to the District of Chetwynd and the PRRD, providing terms of reference for both the Caribou Recovery Related Land Use Objective Stakeholder Committee and the Socio Economic Committee. These committees are intended to generate conversation to be forwarded to the recovery team.

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Mayor Lori Ackerman was quick to criticize the board and Chetwynd, accusing them of changing their principles in the matter.

“It really just confirms what I’ve been saying, nothing has changed. We’ve been at the table the entire time and we’re being invited back to the same table. So you’ve changed your principles in order to join,” said Ackerman.

“The partnership agreement was signed, it’s the resolution and that’s why it’s here,” said Sperling in rebuttal, noting the PRRD asked for a seat at the table.

“No. You were asking for a seat at the table with the recovery committee, you still don’t have that,” replied Ackerman.

On January 23, the PRRD passed a resolution supporting the District of Chetwynd in refusing to participate in caribou related meetings, unless the municipality was awarded a seat. In solidarity, the PRRD did not participate in January 24 meeting with the province.

Mayor Allen Courtoreille says he supports the committees, despite his original objection in being excluded.

“Once it was signed the law took into effect. If was there, we would participate,” said Coutoreille, of the partnership agreement signed on February 21.

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“We’ve been invited in back in, along with local governments. But it’s a provincial government process, the only way we have to participate is by their rules,” said Rose, agreeing the process is not what the PRRD wanted.

“You can’t make any changes by walking away, you need to be there and make sure your voice is heard,” said PRRD director Karen Goodings.

Email reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca.

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