Mayor: Letters last chance for Conservation Officer Service position in Revelstoke

Revelstoke City Council hopes a last-ditch letter writing campaign will help keep a conservation officer in Revelstoke

Four conservation officers patrol the Columbia Kootenay zone; the Ministry of Environment is proposing locating two in Golden

Revelstoke City Council hopes a last-ditch letter writing campaign will convince the Ministry of Environment to preserve a Revelstoke-based Conservation Office Service (COS) staff position.

In late December, the Revelstoke Times Review exposed ministry plans to cancel the Revelstoke position and transfer the last COS position to Golden. The news was revealed after an incident where police shot a bear in Farwell in December.

Resulting questions by the Times Review unveiled the fact that the ministry wasn’t planning to renew the position here, and official confirmation came in a Dec. 23 letter to the Times Review from B.C. Minister of Environment Mary Polak.

At Revelstoke City Council’s Jan. 14 meeting, opted to write a letter to the provincial ministry stating they are “displeased” with the decision.

In response to questions, Mayor David Raven said he’d contacted the senior conservation officer in Victoria to express his “strong upset” with the decision.

“He was sympathetic but he understood my anger,” Raven said. “He didn’t promise my anything at that time, but we’ll see what happens when we start writing letters.”

Several stakeholders wrote to council to protest the change, including Revelstoke Bear Aware, the Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club and Columbia River—Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

Mary Polak is the B.C. Minister of Environment. Her email is env.minister@gov.bc.ca.

***

On Dec. 23, the Times Review submitted a list of questions to the B.C. Ministry of Environment about the cancellation of the last Revelstoke-based Conservation Officer Service position in Revelstoke. The reply came in a Jan. 14 email from a Ministry of Environment spokesperson:

Revelstoke Times Review: To confirm, there will be no COS staff based in Revelstoke?

Ministry of Environment: There will be 4 COS staff that will cover the Columbia Kootenay Zone. As the transition takes place the COS will continue to provide a high level of service.

RTR: Has local and regional government been informed of this change? When were they informed?

MOE: Yes, local and regional governments have been informed of this change. They were informed December 2013.

RTR: Have the RCMP been informed of this change? When were they informed?

MOE: RCMP were informed December 2013.

RTR: This change shifts the duty of dealing with urgent bear calls to the RCMP. Does the COS plan to work with the RCMP on plans and procedures for dealing with problem bears?

MOE: The Conservation Officer Service remains the primary agency that responds to human-wildlife conflict calls. Local agencies have always worked in coordination with the COS to provide the best possible public health and safety response and service to the community.

RTR: Have stakeholders such as Revelstoke Bear Aware and the Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club been informed? When were they informed?

MOE: The COS has informed governments and stakeholders of the decision and are continuing to speak with relevant agencies in the new year.

RTR: What is the total number of conservation staff covering this area?

MOE: There are a total of 4 staff within the Columbia Kootenay. Given Revelstoke’s proximity to the zone boundary, assistance will also be provided by the North Okanagan Zone, which has 6 officers.

RTR: Stakeholders such as the Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club have complained of ongoing poaching in the Revelstoke area due to lack of adequate COS service here, due partially to the current CO’s managerial duties requiring him to be out of town. How does the ministry plan to deal with this poaching situation? How will the staffing alignment improve the situation?

MOE: Poaching remains an issue that the COS manages across the province. The COS will maintain their levels of compliance and enforcement in the Columbia Kootenay Zone. The staffing alignment will allow the COS to develop strategic approaches to focus compliance efforts where they are needed most and can be most effective. The public is encouraged to call the COS RAPP line (1-877-952-7277) with any information regarding poaching incidents.

RTR: Will the COS service maintain an office in Revelstoke?

MOE: The COS plans to maintain an office in Revelstoke.

RTR: Has the MLA for the region been informed? When was he made aware?

MOE: The COS has informed governments and stakeholders of the decision and are continuing to speak with relevant agencies in the new year.

 

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