Public being shut out from Caribou recovery strategy

WILLIAMS LAKE (January 24, 2019) – The provincial government continues to drag its heels on opening public consultations on caribou management despite widespread public demand to be a part of a process that will affect everything from industrial to recreational land use across the province.

“There is a great deal at stake for both the survival of the caribou and the future of our resource economy. This government has a moral obligation to include the public and stakeholders on decisions that could affect a vast majority of the province,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “People who live, work and raise their families in rural British Columbia deserve to be a part of the process.”

This week concerned citizens, MLAs, local governments and representatives from all sectors of the natural resources economy were gathered in Prince George for the annual B.C. Natural Resource Forum.

“The Forum would have been the perfect venue for government to start a meaningful public consultation process especially with forests minister Doug Donaldson and environment minister George Heyman in attendance,” said Peace River North MLA Dan Davies. “There is growing frustration at the way this government is deliberately ignoring the public’s desire to be a part of the solution.”

On Wednesday, the Peace River Regional District issued a news release saying the provincial government plans to initiate public and stakeholder engagement in the Peace region, yet the province would not confirm a date.

“We have heard this before from the provincial government. It says it will hold public meetings, only to have them cancelled at the last minute,” says Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier. “People have had enough of closed door meetings where provincial officials tell people what the government intends to do before they have any opportunity to contribute to the discussion.”

“People in the Kootenays have been completely shut out from the process,” said Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka. “An effective caribou recovery strategy should take into account all stakeholders in order to save these remarkable animals.”

“We are looking for three distinct things from the provincial government,” says Aaron Mathias, representing a group called Concerned Citizens for Caribou Recovery. “We want baseline data on the science behind management decisions, a report on how this will impact the economy in rural British Columbia, and we want a genuine public consultation.”

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