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Bob’s Weekly Report – Hosting caribou recovery townhall in Fort St. John

Caribou in the Klinse-za maternal pen near Chetwynd, B.C., in June 2015. Tristan Brand photo.
Caribou in the Klinse-za maternal pen near Chetwynd, B.C., in June 2015. Tristan Brand photo.

BY BOB ZIMMER

Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP

It’s been two months since local representatives and stakeholders, myself including, began raising the alarm about reports of potential plans for caribou recovery programs in our region.

Since then we still don’t have any answers. Promised public meetings have been cancelled and we are no closer to knowing what the plans are.

The Peace River Regional District has announced that they will be meeting with BC Environment Minister George Heyman and BC Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson at the BC Natural Resources Forum in Prince George to discuss caribou recovery plans. It is my hope that whatever is learned at this meeting will be made public.

This is an issue that could have a drastic effect on our region – both economically and recreationally – which is why I continue to advocate for open, public consultation and transparency. I applaud those who have written or called the federal and provincial ministers involved in this file to voice your concerns and I encourage you all to continue to do so. Our region and our residents have a right to be heard. The lack of transparency that continues to surround these caribou recovery plans is deeply troubling.

It is why I will be hosting a public Northern BC Caribou Closures Town Hall on February 2 at the Pomeroy Hotel in Fort St. John from 9-11:30 a.m. so that we can come together as a community to discuss our concerns and hopefully get some answers to our questions.

I also recently had a meeting with a constituent who had received a letter from the province regarding a parcel of Crown land that is used by their family for trapping and how it may be affected as part of a Treaty Land Entitlement agreement. The constituent was not only worried about what this could mean for the family, but also upset that they were not consulted until a decision had seemingly been made. 

It is deeply troubling to me that both the provincial government and the Liberal federal government continue to claim to understand the importance of open consultation yet leave many of those directly affected in the dark until a decision is all but made.    

Decisions like these need to be made in consultation with ALL involved. Not just a select few.