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

Vancouver Canucks playing pre-season game in Abbotsford

Canucks hosting Ottawa Senators on Monday, Sept. 23

Abbotsford water polo talent earns national gold

16U athletes Sarah Portas and Annika Reinfjell help lead Fraser Valley to first

Harrison Hot Springs to consider single-use plastics ban

Village staff will come back to council with a report on what a possible ban could look like

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Langley’s oldest and last strip bar shuts its doors

The Alder Inn, in operation since 1957, has reportedly been purchased

BREAKING: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

B.C. high school withdraws notices for temporary dress code

Parents previously told the Interior News they felt there was inadequate consultation over the rules

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors announcer credited with calming crowds after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Mini-horse visits residents at Lower Mainland care home

Gunner turned a visit with grandpa into a major event for everyone at the residence

Women sue former Vancouver cop over alleged sexual abuse during pimp case

Two women claim James Fisher caused psychological trauma during the Reza Moazami investigation

First ever Indigenous person to join the RCMP to be honoured in B.C.

Hawk Kelly said becoming a Mountie was his dream job as a kid

Mini pinscher at Maple Ridge SPCA needs spinal surgery

Bane has a painful condition known as Wobbler Syndrome

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

International Trade Minister Jim Carr described the decision as ‘very significant’

Most Read