The Peace River Regional District sent out the following letter to media on Nov. 23:
It has come to the attention of the Peace River Regional District that the Province and area First Nations are very close to signing an AIP (Agreement In Principal) on the creation of a large area dedicated to the protection of the caribou.
The purpose of the area is said to be in response to the Federal Government concerns about Southern Mountain Caribou Recovery in the Burnt Pine Herd. Sources tell us that this may include loss of access by industry and the general public to a large area of approximately 420,000 acres or 650 sq. miles located from Chetwynd to Mt Lemoray North and South. This could result in significant loss of annual cut in the forestry industry.
In May of 2018 Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Catherine McKenna, declared that a few Southern Mountain Caribou herds face “imminent threats to their recovery.”
The Province of BC has committed to protect and restore caribou habitat; the Peace River Regional District is supportive of these efforts but know that the stakeholders who are directly affected have not been included in planning and that all initiatives must be a result of science and evidence-based analysis.
The PRRD and area residents have been promised stakeholder engagement in this process but it has not happened. There is concern that similar plans are in the works for the Quintette and Narraway herds in the Tumbler Ridge area and other herds throughout BC.
The Provincial Government does not have a mandate to continue to make deals that will devastate communities and the way of life in the PRRD without involving the residents and industrial partners in our region.
The Peace River Regional District demands that the province and the federal government suspend any further discussion on these issues until a comprehensive impact analysis is completed on all socioeconomic impacts of any changes to land use in our communities. This analysis must be done throughout the entire PRRD to accurately measure any and all effects on our communities and way of life.
Immediate and constructive engagement is demanded now before a deal is made.