Dan Davies: Caribou recovery plans must be made transparent

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A few weeks ago a message from the Saulteau First Nation was made public concerning caribou recovery efforts. 

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The chief and council felt compelled to provide reassurance that industrial and recreation use of lands will not be drastically curtailed to protect five endangered herds around Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge. 

The letter reads: “…there will still be mining, and forestry, and gas and pipelines, and other industries. We are part of the economy in the Peace too, and we don’t want to see economic development stop either.” 

I certainly welcome the efforts of the chief and council to clear the air, but they shouldn’t be placed in this untenable position in the first place. It’s the job of government — and the provincial government in particular — to ensure that public concerns of all stakeholders are taken into account and are part of the process. Unfortunately this is not happening. 

On December 7, a meeting was cancelled by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change when regional councilors with the Peace River Regional District requested that the meeting be made public. Furthermore, we have since learned that the federal government cancelled a meeting on December 10 in Vancouver with Electoral E representative Dan Rose at the request of the provincial government.

The lack of transparency continues to spark suspicion and fear far and wide. This issue is not limited to our own region, but extends as far as caribou habitat does, all the way from the Peace Region down to the Kootenays. Local governments have been calling for greater involvement since last September at the annual meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities. 

I am pretty sure that just about everyone wants to find the right balance, but we won’t arrive at that destination unless the public is a part of the solution. My self, along with my colleagues will be continuing to pressure the NDP government to open up these closed discussions. 

I encourage you to reach out to the premier,  the environment minister, George Heyman and FLNRO Minister, Doug Donaldson to be more transparent on this critical issue. 

The survival of caribou depends on it. 

Dan Davies is MLA for Peace River North. 

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