Caribou calf is protected from predators in a maternity pen, Revelstoke, 2014. (Black Press files)

Horgan appoints former northern MLA to cool tensions on B.C. caribou protection

Blair Lekstrom gets an extra month to consult on new protected areas

Premier John Horgan has extended the local consultation over sweeping new caribou habitat restrictions in the B.C. interior, in an effort to “dial down the acrimony” that has resulted from local residents being shut out of talks.

Horgan has appointed former Dawson Creek mayor and Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom to guide discussions, extending the deadline for a new habitat protection deal through May. Public meetings move to the Kootenay region this week, where some herds of caribou have already been lost.

Horgan acknowledged that the B.C. government didn’t allow enough public participation as it dealt with federal demands and a constitutional obligation to include local Indigenous groups. But he said the bottom line is that Ottawa has been demanding action since 2003 and will impose a solution if B.C. doesn’t increase its protection even more.

Horgan met with local B.C. Liberal MLA Mike Bernier and members of the Peace River Regional District Monday, and he said it’s unanimous they all “want to dial down the acrimony” that has been fuelled by misinformation on social media.

The dwindling herds of caribou have been in retreat across Western Canada for decades, with some subgroups already pushed to extinction. Researchers say resource development roads and snowmobiles have opened up back-country to predators, particularly wolves.

Horgan said the ongoing program to kill wolves in B.C. is controversial, but it has shown results in the Peace region, where B.C.’s largest caribou herds have traditionally been found.

READ MORE: Forestry, recreation squeezed by caribou strategy

READ MORE: Draft caribou deals don’t include snowmobile bans

The province has a draft protection plan with Ottawa, and separate plans with the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations to protect large areas of the Peace region.

Forest industry officials have spoken at public meetings about an estimated loss of up to 500 jobs in the Chetwynd-Tumbler Ridge region as logging is further restricted.

Lekstrom, now a Dawson Creek councillor, thanked Horgan for providing what the community asked for, additional time to have a say before the new restrictions are imposed.

Horgan wrote to forest company executives around the province to invite them to meet with local politicians and union representatives to maximize the timber that will still be available after new restrictions come down.

The industry is already dealing with steep decreases in Crown timber as the province adjusts licences in the wake of a widespread pine beetle epidemic that raised the cut for salvage logging.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Feds announce $45 million for flood mitigation near Chilliwack

Six km of new diking will be built to protect Skway, Shxwha:y Village and Chilliwack property

Chilliwack council asking Competition Bureau to investigate gas prices

City councillor says ‘I think it’s fair to say we are being hosed’ here in the Lower Mainland

Wheelchair basketball’s Ben Hagkull inspires Cheam elementary school students

The Chilliwack native and member of the Canadian national program spoke at his former school.

New Chilliwack cycling organization focuses on seniors

Volunteer ‘pilots’ carry those with mobility issues on trishaws

Judge questions joint submission for Chilliwack man who sexually assaulted girl

Crown, defence ordered to find case law to back up one-year sentencing for Andrew Mullaly

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

B.C., Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

VIDEO: Vanouver Giants come back to earn 4-3 overtime victory

Playing in Spokane for the second consecutive night, the G-Men triumph put them 3-1 in the playoffs

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Most Read