Sponsors: Northern Rockies Regional Municipality
NCLGA Executive Recommendation: No Recommendation
WHEREAS the Province, in compliance with the Federal Species at Risk Act, is currently in the process of developing Implementation Plans for the conservation and regeneration of Woodland Caribou in BC;
AND WHEREAS such plans, by restricting the harvesting of timber in specified areas can have a significant negative impact on forest industry investment operations, and local economies:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT that the NCLGA and UBCM lobby the Provincial Government to immediately commit to meaningful consultation with local governments potentially affected by Woodland Caribou Implementation Plans, such consultation to involve thorough investigation and consideration of socio-economic impacts.
The Province is currently involved in the development of Woodland Caribou Implementation Plans to satisfy the requirements of the Federal Species At Risk Act (SARA). The areas affected span BC from north to south and involve the Designated Units of Southern Mountain Caribou, Central Mountain Caribou, Northern Mountain Caribou, and Boreal Caribou. Satisfying SARA conditions does not require consideration of socio-economic factors in the creation of Implementation Plans inasmuch as SARA is conservation and species-focused legislation. Any requirement for consultation regarding such impacts is a matter of provincial prerogative, as is consultation with local governments on the matter. At the same time, the potential impact on the forest industry in the regions affected by Implementation Plans are significant in that a primary component of the plans is the protection of habitat through restrictions on access and harvesting in large areas of forest. Under current arrangements and practices the Province can and is making decisions without adequate knowledge of local conditions and engagement with local government. This is the case, for example, in the Fort Nelson Forest District whereby the formulation of the Boreal Caribou Implementation Plan (BCIP) proposes to alienate 1,000,000 hectares of forest from harvesting, in addition to the approximately 1,500,000 hectares (comprising close to 25% of the total Forest District) already protected for conservation purposes. In this case, no investigation of the socio-economic impact on the already severely economically distressed Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has been undertaken. The proposed action would require the Province to engage in a process recognizing local interests and socio-economic values, and support the formulation of Implementation Plans reflecting a balance between conservation and economic sustainability.
The UBCM membership endorsed resolution 2011-B93, which called for “meaningful and respectful” federal consultation with local government and the agricultural community, regarding recovery planning under the Species at Risk Act. The 2011 resolution sought to find a balance between conservation needs and agricultural production.
In response to the resolution, the federal government acknowledged the concerns of local governments and the agricultural community. The federal government pointed out that as part of the process of implementing conservation strategies, it had undertaken a range of consultation with provincial and local government, and agricultural stakeholders.
UBCM would also note that members have consistently endorsed resolutions calling for strong provincial and federal legislation to support conservation of species at risk and promote biodiversity (2011-B41, 2010-B35, 2008-B87, 2004-B80).