Blair Lekstrom has been busy since his appointment as community liaison on the caribou agreements by Premier John Horgan.
“Pretty well in a community like ours, you talk to people about it, I’ve had a number of emails from different people, not just in the region but other areas as well.”
While his mandate is the Peace Region, he anticipates the provincial government will look at applying what they’ve learned from this - across the province.
With the short timeframe — the deadline for consultations has been extended to May 31 — he says it’s not likely enough time to host more public meetings like the town hall, but he’s reaching out.
He plans to meet with the Peace River Regional District, First Nations, industry, the Concerned Citizens for Caribou Recovery, and elected provincial and federal representatives, as well as responding to all the queries from the public.
The message he’s hearing is loud and clear.
“We’re okay with looking after caribou, we think we can do it in a manner that doesn’t block any access to the backcountry, it doesn’t jeopardize our communities and industry, the people that create the jobs, and we want to do this together, we’ve been locked out of it thus far.
“We want to be part of the solution, not be told what’s gonna happen when it’s 94% of the population that has at this point felt excluded from the process.”
Lekstrom says he reached out to the Premier — a friend of his — about a week before the announcement to discuss the issue. After that, Horgan reached out and asked him if he’d take the role.
“For the premier to be able to adjust his schedule, do what he did and get up here, and also I appreciate — it doesn’t matter what political party you’re from — if people are big enough to come out and say, ‘Hey, we haven’t handled this properly,’ and that’s what I’ve heard him say. I appreciate those comments, but like I said, we can’t change what happened yesterday, so let’s go forward from where we’re at, and see if we can find a solution.”
“His hands are somewhat tied with the federal government’s timeframe on this as well, but I’ve said clearly if our region is working together with the provincial government and our local governments and our local region and residents and First Nations, the federal government can keep their nose out of it until we find a solution,” he continues.
“Hopefully [the federal government] would recognize we’re making progress, if we are, and we’re going to know that within the next four weeks, without question.”
The issue is above politics, he says.
“This to me is a non-political issue, it’s one that I live here, my family lives here, my grandchildren, my friends, and as I’ve said a 100 times before, we’re all in this together, so definitely I want to try and make this work.
“When any one of our communities is impacted in a negative way, we all feel it.”