BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP
After months of speculation and cancelled public meetings, the provincial government has finally released two draft caribou recovery agreements.
On March 21, the province released a draft Section 11 Agreement between British Columbia and Canada and a draft Partnership Agreement between British Columbia, Canada, West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations.
Included in the partnership agreement are plans to increase protected areas and closures in high and low elevation caribou habitat. According to provincial officials, these proposed closures will target resource development and forestry may also be affected. Although no existing mining operations are currently part of the proposed closures, it is unclear how new future operations may be affected.
With regards to outdoor recreation, while the draft agreements do not currently include snowmobiling closures, the province is planning to hold separate consultations regarding “snowmobile management” in May.
Of great concern to me is the fact that a socioeconomic study wasn’t completed before the release of these draft agreements, so we really don’t have an idea of how much of an impact these proposed changes will have on our region’s economy.
The timeline for public feedback is also incredibly short, with the province only accepting input from the public until April 26 at 4 p.m. The province is also planning on holding public meetings in April.
I urge all residents and local stakeholders who want to have their say on this issue to do so. To find out more about how to submit your feedback, please visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/caribou/.
It is finally time for all of us to have our say about how our region may be impacted by these plans. It is my hope that when these final agreement are released, that ALL views will be fully considered and included.