Rural and northern MLAs left out in the cold on caribou recovery plan

DAWSON CREEK (December 7, 2018) After repeated requests for a briefing on the province’s caribou recovery efforts, rural and northern MLAs find themselves completely frozen out of the process, along with the general public.

The move follows the recent cancellation of a meeting between the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the Peace River Regional District that was supposed to have taken place today. Ministry officials backed out when regional district councilors asked to have the meeting made open to the public.

“Without an open and transparent process, the province is creating a divide in the community because not everyone is at the table,” said Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier. “I understand that local first nations have been consulted, and that’s important, but by keeping most people in the dark, the ministry is creating a great deal of needless anxiety. The fact is the government has failed to do the bare minimum of consultation with local communities and stakeholders who could be adversely affected by the complete closure of caribou habitat.”

“As chair of rural caucus, I find it very disappointing that the government is failing to engage the public on a far ranging issue that could stem economic activity in forestry, tourism and even mining,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA. “Local governments have been calling for greater involvement since the annual UBCM meeting last September, and similar to MLAs they have been left out in the cold. Everyone wants to protect caribou and their habitat, but we need discussions at the local level to come up with solutions that can work for everyone.”

“I have all sorts of constituents, from guide outfitters to people in the hospitality industry who are worried about how this plan will impact their future,” said Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok. “The preservation and survival of caribou populations is paramount, but the general public has a right to know what’s going on. When the ministry cancels a meeting because they don’t want public participation, it is bound to provoke uncertainty and apprehension.”

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