I encourage everyone to take part in the public consultation on caribou recovery that’s coming to Williams Lake on April 8 at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
For quite some time, representatives from regional districts and MLAs from rural and northern B.C. have begged the provincial government for meaningful public consultations.
We were aware the province only had one year to respond to Ottawa after the federal government determined that southern mountain caribou were facing an imminent threat of extinction in May of 2018.
Given this fixed timeline, the provincial government should have launched a public engagement process a long time ago.
People who live, work and play in the backcountry have a great deal to offer in terms of local and firsthand knowledge.
It’s surprising the Horgan government waited until it had a draft agreement between the province, some First Nations and Ottawa before it opened the process to the public. This leaves us with barely a month before the federal government’s final deadline in May.
The plan will have a major impact on the forest, mining and tourism industries. Recreational users, hunters and guide outfitters could also find themselves facing restrictions to backcountry use.
I raised these points with forests minister Doug Donaldson last week, but was still left wondering if the whole process has already been pre-determined?
The draft agreement announced on March 21 will likely go ahead without changes despite the public relations effort the government is holding at the eleventh hour.
Even though the timing is frustrating, I still encourage you all to attend to ask federal and provincial officials what they have in store for us and what their precise plans are.
Everyone wants to see caribou populations improve. But I firmly believe that a recovery strategy will only be successful if local residents are part of the conversation.