Local officials who feel their communities are not being adequately consulted on mountain caribou recovery plans were in Victoria May 27 to present a petition showing many residents feel the same.
Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz and Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz recorded a video alongside Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo in Victoria, where they say the petition has more than 12,000 signatures.
The key issue driving concern in Southeastern B.C. communities is the closure of vast mountainous areas in Southeastern B.C., which opponents contend is a possibility under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act.
In the video, the mayors and the MLA voice concerns about backcountry closures which could affect activities such as snowmobiling, heli-skiing and logging and seriously affect the economies in Sicamous, Revelstoke and the rest of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
“We recognize the value of caribou recovery but we need to work together to find a solution,” Rysz says in the video. “The key concern for us is public consultation,”
He goes on to say local governments need to be at the table when such conversations are taking place because of the social and economic impacts backcountry closures could have.
“It’s seriously important that we’re part of the conversation and I think we can be a serious part of the solution as well,” he says.
Sulz says inviting local government and residents into the conversation on plans to recover the caribou herds can help tailor solutions to the specific areas they will be implemented in.
“People in Revelstoke and people in Sicamous can actually be sitting at the table helping to mandate these closures or openings or whatever it will be, but we want to be able to sit there with the stakeholders and the government to actually finalize what is going to be done,” he says.
Kyllo echoes the mayors’ call for more meaningful consultation with residents and community leaders in the areas which could be most affected by the closures.