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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

COVID-19: Vernon Towne Cinema back in action!

Movie lovers rejoice, the historic theatre has reopened with safety protocols in place

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Fundraiser kicks off for Lake Country families displaced by house fire

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise $5K for those who lost everything in early morning blaze

Liberals push NDP for fall school reopening plan

Local Liberal MLA says NDP government committed to plan being unveiled before Aug. 4

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Summerland Blossom Youth Ambassador Program to hold coronation

Event will be held by video as a result of COVID-19 precautions

Pooch abandoned at Penticton doggy daycare suffered from oral disease

A fundraiser for Okie held by the BC SPCA surpassed its goal of $1,700

Couple shaken up after homophobic encounter at Kelowna mall

‘We’re not in the States; we’re not in some little hick town; we’re in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. And it still happens’

Summerland to allow in-person attendance at July 13 council meetings

Two meetings will be held at Summerland Arena Banquet Room to accommodate public

Rescued hawk returned to Lumby skies

A rehabilitated Swainson’s hawk was returned to its Rawlings Lake habitat

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

Most Read