Government consultation processes must change

The following open letter was sent by Brad Sperling, chair of the Peace River Regional District, to federal environment minister Catherine McKenna and B.C. forest minister Doug Donaldson on May 28:

Dear Minister McKenna and Minister Donaldson,

On behalf of the Peace River Regional District Board, we would like to express our disappointment with the engagement process and lack of public disclosure by the Federal and Provincial Governments regarding the Southern Mountain Caribou Recovery. This process has led to division and strife within our northern communities that could have been avoided.

While we in Northeastern BC have worked hard to build relationships with our communities, matters that could potentially threaten the way of life and livelihood of residents around the region understandably cause tension and conflict. Engaging together on important issues could offer communities the unique opportunity to encourage and strengthen relationships through partnership and shared problem-solving.

Unfortunately, the processes followed by our governments on Southern Mountain Caribou have only served to add additional barriers to relationship building and cause unnecessary conflict in our region.

We strongly recommend that the Provincial and Federal Governments conduct a review of their engagement processes to reflect a commitment to supporting and empowering communities at the centre of these issues. While we understand the Species-At-Risk Act is federal legislation, we hope that in the future the Federal Government chooses to value local expertise and knowledge by withholding their involvement rather than further complicating an already tense situation.

We hope that these processes can be improved in the future to ensure that all levels of government engage in a transparent and collaborative manner that encourages the participation of all people and communities affected. 

Sincerely,

Brad Sperling, Chair
Peace River Regional District

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