Local officials who feel their communities are not being adequately consulted on mountain caribou recovery plans were in Victoria on May 27 presenting a petition that shows many residents feel the same way they do.
Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz and Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz recorded a video alongside Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo in Victoria, where they say the petition has over 12,000 signatures.
The key issue driving concern in Southeastern B.C. communities is the closure of vast mountainous areas in Southeastern B.C., which opponents contend is a possibility under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act.
In the video, the mayors and the MLA voice concerns over backcountry closures which could affect activities such as snowmobiling, heli-skiing and logging seriously affecting the economy in Sicamous, Revelstoke and the rest of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
“We recognize the value of caribou recovery but we need to work together to find a solution. The key concern for us is public consultation,” Rysz said in the video.
Rysz goes on to say that local governments need to be at the table when we have these conversations because of the social and economic impacts that back country closures could have
“It’s seriously important that we’re part of the conversation and I think we can be a serious part of the solution as well,” he said.
Sulz said inviting local government and residents into the conversation on plans to recover the caribou herds can help tailor solutions to the specific areas they will be implemented in.
“People in Revelstoke and people in Sicamous can actually be sitting at the table helping to mandate these closures or openings or whatever it will be, but we want to be able to sit there with the stakeholders and the government to actually finalize what is going to be done,” he said
Kyllo echoed the mayors’ call for more meaningful consultation with residents and community leaders in the areas which could be most affected by the closures.