The caribou concern has been at the forefront of residents’ minds lately and has been an issue that I have been following for years.
In recent days, I have heard from several residents who are deeply concerned about reports that the provincial government and local First Nations are close to signing an Agreement in Principal that would create a large area dedicated to the protection of caribou.
According to Peace River Regional District sources, the general public and our industry may soon be denied access to 420,000 acres located from Chetwynd to Mount Lemoray North and South. There are also reports that similar plans may be in place in other parts of the South Peace.
I have met with the District of Chetwynd, Peace River Regional District, and local industry leaders to discuss these reports and the concerns they have about what this will mean for our communities and local economy – especially our natural resource and outdoor recreation sectors.
I share in these concerns, especially since this all stems from the Trudeau government’s caribou action plan, which has been criticized for being based on incomplete science. This is the same government that has been known to just shut down huge areas as wildlife preserves without consideration for the livelihoods of the people who live there. The oil tanker moratorium and PNCIMA are just a few examples.
Look, we all want to ensure the survival of the Southern Mountain Caribou, but a solution must be based on sound science and consideration of all factors – including the affect it will have on our local communities.
It is also vitally important that all stakeholders are consulted, not just a select few. To me, it's unacceptable that local elected representatives and local industry have not been included in any of the current discussions taking place.
If you are concerned about these reports and the affect this could have on our communities, I encourage you to contact the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, at Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca or 613-946-8682, and Sean Fraser, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, at Sean.Fraser@parl.gc.ca or 902-752-0226.
We all have an important part to play in the future of the Southern Mountain Caribou. Let’s make sure that this is done right, with all voices heard.
Bob Zimmer is Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies.