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

VIU visual art show spans a Spectrum of art forms

Spectrum: Visual Art Major Grad Show continues until May 9 at the View Gallery

City of Nanaimo ‘100 per cent’ on board with privacy commissioner recommendations

Council satisfied with how private and confidential information will be handled moving forward

Leading jazz pianist to take to the stage in Nanaimo

The Jennifer Scott Trio will play the Lighthouse Bistro on Tuesday, April 23.

Senior sentenced in Nanaimo for sexually abusing special-needs granddaughter

73-year-old Cortes Island man will go to jail for three years

Nanaimo RCMP probe eight fires at Brechin Elementary School

Police say fires appear to have been set intentionally

Diary of Anne Frank turned into emotional stage production

Nanaimo Theatre Group director, actors say message relevant today

Beefs & Bouquets, April 18

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Nanaimo rapper Sirreal presents variety show at the Queen’s

Performances at 420 Sharp Dressed Fam show will be filmed for live concert video

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

City wants public input on shopping bag bylaw

City launches public consultation on single-use shopping bags regulation

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Fuel supply requires pipeline expansion

As gasoline production is curtailed, consumer demand will force prices higher, says letter writer

Nanaimo joins National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis

Drug users demand national, provincial, municipal funding and policy changes to end overdoses

Bowling challenging on the lanes or the lawn

Bowling is very much on the radar this week, with action happening both on hardwood and on grass

Most Read