Shirley Bond
It’s time to be heard

Over the last several months there has been growing concern about a policy issue that could literally change the way we live and do our work in rural and northern regions.

In fact the issue has been raised previously by the MP for our area, Bob Zimmer in his column in this newspaper.

Sadly, there has been little said or done to ease concerns or the uncertainty that has been created. In fact grassroots groups, petitions and calls for a transparent process have increased.

Any discussion about wildlife or endangered species will always be an emotional one. And that has certainly proven to be true with the current process that is looking at the management of Mountain Caribou.

Let me say from the outset that I have yet to hear from anyone who doesn’t recognize that this is a critical file, that we do need to find solutions, and that time is of the essence.

The biggest criticism of the process to date has been the lack of transparency and meaningful consultation.

Any significant policy changes that lead to additional restrictions for use of the land base will impact all of us. Whether you snowmobile for pleasure, run a world class heli-ski operation or operate a sustainable forestry based company, you deserve to have input early in the consideration process.

From my perspective the key word is balance. A policy framework that ignores socio-economic values, for example, simply would not meet the test of a balanced approach.

As your MLA I want the opportunity to participate and be briefed on an issue of this magnitude. It impacts the people that have elected me and who expect me to ensure that their voices are heard.

Today, despite numerous requests for meetings with ministry staff and the relevant ministers our requests have been denied. We have also seen scheduled meetings in other communities cancelled.

During the past week a number of my colleagues and I met with a variety of groups who attended the Natural Resource Forum in Prince George. Virtually every single one of them shared the same concern with us.

They want the opportunity to provide their input and to understand the possible consequences of pending policy changes, and so do I.

It’s time to be heard through an open, transparent and inclusive process.