In a letter to the premier, the PRRD say they’re not being listened to on caribou conservation, and claim that there is an imminent creation of a conservation area that poses serious economic risk to the region.
“We think it is reasonable that we at least be kept informed of decisions being made on our behalf that have the potential to wreak enormous havoc on our northern economy and especially on the lives of those who live here,” states a PRRD letter dated October 29, signed by board chair Brad Sperling.
“On October 19 we were shocked and dismayed to learn of the imminent creation of an Indigenous and Conserved Area in our neighbourhood. Potentially 400,000 cubic metres of timber will be clawed back with, according to government estimates, a potential loss of a minimum of 500 jobs. We also learned of the possibility of compensation packages being developed for forest companies.”
Intentions to create such a conservation area have not been announced by the province.
“We want caribou to thrive,” continues the letter. “But are we going to sacrifice the lives of thousands of the human species across our great province in the process — and that without consulting them; and that without any assurance that our sacrifices are going to be effective in the end?”
In the letter, they ask for "meaningful participation."
The letter, though on the PRRD letterhead, was posted publicly on the District of Chetwynd website front page and Facebook page, but not on the PRRD’s.
In recent PRRD meetings, directors have noted a frustration with the lack of information and consultation from the province.
“Local government hasn’t really been allowed in the process at all,” says Dan Rose, Electoral Area E Director. “This is driving away investment, people don’t know what’s going, and it’s creating a lot of angst amongst different communities.
“This is regional — this is not Tumbler Ridge, this is not Chetwynd. It affects everybody.”
Rose and directors from Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd noted a meeting with West Fraser on October 19, in which the issue was discussed and they say they heard of some of the province’s intentions.
“What really got to me was when they said this used to be stable investment area, and that has changed completely with what’s going on up here now,” says former Tumbler Ridge Mayor Don McPherson of the meeting with West Fraser.