Rob Morrison, Conservative candidate. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Rob Morrison, Conservative candidate. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Kootenay Columbia candidates talk caribou preservation

The debate on how to protect Mountain Caribou has been ongoing in Revelstoke.

With the federal election coming up Oct. 21, the Revelstoke Review asked the Kootenay-Columbia candidates their position on this issue: Revelstoke is a centre for industry and recreation, however it is also in the range of Mountain Caribou. It’s possible the federal government could implement their own regulations that could drastically impact Revelstoke. How would you address the issue?

Rob Morrison, Conservative Party

We need to look at realistic strategy for the Mountain Caribou sourced from the various stakeholders involved. Closing large tracks of land and creating wildlife management areas has not proven to be productive. It’s time for a new approach and I look forward to hearing from the experts and going to work within government to create solutions that will have a meaningful and longterm impact.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Morrison running for Conservatives in Kootenay-Columbia

Rick Stewart is the People’s Party of Canada candidate for the Kootenay Columbia riding. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Rick Stewart , People’s Party of Canada

In the Canadian Species at Risk Act it states that “the conservation efforts of individual Canadians and communities should be encouraged and supported” and I have to say that RCRW’s (Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild) efforts and community support are to be commended to ensure the link from reared animals to the wild herd is maintained.

As your People’s Party of Canada Member of Parliament, I would monitor and make recommendations to COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) and work closely with the minister(s) responsible in preparing and updating the recovery strategy and associated action plans. Even more important, I will secure funding for RCRW’s efforts in conjunction with community and industry support.

READ MORE: U.S. protects already extinct caribou herd

The Species at Risk Act currently lists the Mountain Caribou as “Threatened,” but an “Endangered” listing with elevated land and commercial restrictions, over and above those already in place, would serve no additional purpose.

Jeopardizing the prosperity of our community and the people who live here will also jeopardize the activities of RCRW and other local initiatives essential to the long-term success of saving our Mountain Caribou herds and keeping them truly wild.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Stewart running for People’s Party of Canada in Kootenay-Columbia

Trev Miller is the candidate for the Animal Protection Party in the Kootenay Columbia Riding. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Trev Miller, Animal Protection Party

It’s estimated six billion people could die as a result of global warming in coming decades. This might mean that the Revelsoke area and places further north could become the only livable climate on Earth for the final centuries of our planet’s death.

We need to redefine our relationship with the economy and the environment to give ourselves a fighting chance to survive the changes that are very likely to continue taking place.

It’s important to remember that the first human paleolithic hunter-gatherers settled North America around 14,000 years ago, while the first evidence of Rangifer Tarandus Caribou is from a find in the Yukon that dates back 1.6 million years.

In a very real way, we have taken their land and are driving them and ourselves to extinction. Personal change is climate change and it’s vital each of us also look at our daily personal habits and whether they’re ecologically sustainable.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Trev Miller running for Animal Protection Party in Kootenay Columbia

Abra Bryn is the Green Party candidate for the Kootenay Columbia riding. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Abra Brynne , Green Party

At present we have an interim moratorium on new resource development in parts of northeastern B.C. We know that a caribou conservation plan is in the works, with the understanding that the federal government will issue an emergency protection order if a viable plan fails to materialize.

Unfortunately, the flawed nature of the initial architecture of the plan — the lack of any socio-economic impact analysis or comprehensive community consultation, as referenced in the report The Path Forward to Recover The Caribou Plan in Northern British Columbia — has created greater urgency on all sides.

Revelstoke’s concerns are well-founded. When large tracts of land go off-limits, the loss of backcountry access impacts recreation, tourism, logging and trapping.

Weighing the urgent need for caribou habitat protection with the need for stakeholder and community consultation presents challenges, and yet an imposed federal government order without comprehensive consultation serves no one.

READ MORE: ‘We’re concerned’: hundreds attend caribou meeting in Revelstoke

We all lose the longer this goes on. Caribou need habitat protection. And, communities need to sustain dynamic, job-producing local economies. A recovery plan that works with our wildlife biologists, made in partnership with First Nations, local communities and governments, is the way forward.

People whose lives may be impacted do need to be heard. Blair Lekstrom’s thoughtful report provides an informed start towards a workable solution that puts all interests on the table.

As federal MP, here’s what I pledge: I will listen carefully to your views on the recovery plan. What solutions do you see? What compromises are you willing to consider?

I will work towards a resolution that takes into account your views, so that ongoing uncertainty will not further impact survival chances for this species at risk, nor the economic well-being of our communities.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Brynne running for Green Party in Kootenay-Columbia

Wayne Stetski is the NDP candidate for the Kootenay Columbia riding. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Wayne Stetski , NDP

Canadians value and take great pride in our country’s natural heritage. I know that is certainly true in Kootenay – Columbia. Picturesque landscapes like the Selkirk Mountains and iconic species like the Mountain Caribou are an important part of our identity.

We have a responsibility to protect this natural heritage for present and future generations. If re-elected, I will advocate for a federal Environmental Bill of Rights that will recognize this responsibility and the right of all Canadians to an ecologically balanced environment.

Unfortunately, development and a changing climate have put ecosystems under pressure and many species at risk of extinction. Once a species is lost it cannot be replaced. That’s why a New Democrats government would meet its obligations under the Species at Risk Act.

READ MORE: Sicamous and Revelstoke mayors deliver petition on mountain caribou recovery

In doing so, we must implement evidence-based strategies that give us the best chance of species recovery while balancing other interests such as recreational access and forestry as much as possible. It won’t be easy but it must be done.

I was the chair of the inter agency management committee for the province overseeing the implementation of the 1995 Kootenay Boundary Land Use Plan, so I know how difficult the process can be. But good planning with the public at the table is critical to good decision-making.

We must also work in full and equal partnership with First Nations and make sure species recovery efforts respect Indigenous rights and embrace traditional knowledge to increase biodiversity.

A New Democrat government would expand the Indigenous Guardians Program, invest in Indigenous-led science, and support the creation of Indigenous-managed protected areas.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Stetski running for NDP in Kootenay-Columbia

Robin Goldsbury is the Liberal candidate for the Kootenay Columbia riding. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Robin Goldsbury, Liberal Party

Revelstoke is a centre for industry or recreation, however, it is also in the range of Mountain Caribou.

It’s possible the federal government could implement their own regulations that could drastically impact Revelstoke.

We need to balance conservation with industry and recreation. Many people are affected — businesses, enthusiasts, environmentalists, people who live/work in the area, the province. All their voices need to be heard and responded to before Ottawa issues a hammer down decision that would affect thousands.

I will gather all the information the federal government has on this issue and will host a reverse forum town-hall style meeting in all affected areas. Stakeholders, and whoever has interest, will have a chance to explain what they think the best course of action is and how they will be affected.

READ MORE: Last caribou from lower 48 U.S. released back into the wild

I will follow up these meeting by engaging personal conversations with groups unable to attend these meetings. This information will be gathered and presented to the federal committees who would issue this sort of decision.

Understanding that in policy not everyone will receive the outcomes they desire, the job of a Member of Parliament is to make sure their constituent’s voices are being heard and being properly presented to the right people.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Goldsbury running for Liberals in Kootenay-Columbia


 

@RevelstokeRevue
editor@revelstoketimesreview.com

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