The B.C. government, the federal government, West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations have been negotiating an Inter-Governmental Partnership Agreement for the Conservation of the Central Group of the Southern Mountain Caribou (“Partnership Agreement”). The draft Partnership Agreement applies to the Central Group of Southern Mountain Caribou in the South Peace.
The BCSF reviewed the draft agreement and submitted the attached comments to Government on behalf of BCSF Member Clubs.
The top five key points of our response are:
- Term of Agreement should be five years-It is apparent in reading the Agreement that the proposed 30 year term does not match the actions laid out in the Agreement. The terms and schedules to the Agreement are short term or immediate in scope and much of the language is referencing items to be developed, possible projects to be considered, targets to be determined, temporary committees, interim measures and schedules that only apply to implementation of the Agreement of itself. We think that the Parties need to embrace that this is new ground and instead use this agreement as the stepping stone to the creation of a long-term vision on caribou recovery with broad public support.
- Managing motorized recreation– We are concerned the Agreements includes an action to implement the Central Group Caribou Motor-Vehicle Closure Engagement Plan. Our concern is based on that we have asked for a copy of this plan and have been told that the document has not been finalized nor can it be shared as of closing of this consultation period. So we do not know what we agreeing to or commenting on.
- The Klinse-za Park expansion- The current Klinse-za Park is listed as “Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) being prohibited in the existing park. ORVs include ATVs, off-road motorcycles, snowmobiles and side-by-sides.” The wording to expand the park without including this key piece of information makes it unclear to us and the public of the Parties intention to make zone B3 a non-motorized area. The expansion of this park effectively removes snowmobiling from two high value snowmobile areas to the community of Chetwynd and will not include the snowmobile sector in reviewing this action or its boundaries.
- Habitat Restoration Projects –They are planning to undertake restoration projects but the list of projects has not been provided. Habitat Restoration and lineal line removal can seriously impact snowmobile access but does not seem to have any requirement for consultation. By removing access to an area you do effectively close the area without a requirement to consult impacted users. This results in forcing the public onto unsafe access trails or can result in illegal trail building.
- Public Consultation-The agreement states that all consultation must be completed within four months of the initialing of this Agreement. We have been told that the Agreement was initialed on March 1, 2019 which makes the end of public engagement to be June 30th. With the public consultation sessions that were held in the Northeast scheduled only ten days after the agreement was released, we question the ability for the public to be properly informed or effectively participate in a consultation process. Also, the four month timeline also does not allow for the Parties to implement any of the feedback from the public or bring back a second draft for review.
To read the full response letter that was submitted please open the attached file.