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

Police request public’s help after cat shot in North Shuswap

Chase RCMP seeking information, small calibre bullets lodged in shoulder of pet

Hornets take home gold at Interior Spring League Playoffs tournament

The tournament consisted of seven teams from Kamloops to West Kelowna

Letter: Residents urged to vote for kitchen for Outdoor School

Voting goes until June 23 to receive $100,000 for South Canoe

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mainly sunny

Environment Canada is calling for a chance of showers tomorrow across the Okanagan

Woman brings mortar round to Shuswap RCMP detachment

Chase officers contact the Canadian Forces to dispose of the suspected explosive device

VIDEO: Sexting teens at risk of depression and substance abuse, Canadian study says

Use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were also found to be associated with sexting

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

UPDATE: Grass fire sparks in West Kelowna

The blaze is just off Lower Glenrosa Road

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

Survive an Apocalypse in Kelowna with this virtual game

Apocolypse Made Easy is an interactive online survival game

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

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

Rascal Flatts extend summer tour to the South Okanagan

Rascal Flatts create a Forever Summer Playlist tour extending it into the fall

Most Read