British Columbia

B.C. imposes interim ban on resource development to protect caribou

The British Columbia government plans to sign a caribou protection strategy while it imposes an interim moratorium on new resource development in areas of the South Peace region where the animals are struggling for survival.

New forestry, mining in South Peace to be curtailed for 2 years as stakeholders work on management plan

The B.C. government says stopping what it describes as "new high-impact forestry and mining activities" is necessary in efforts to save the southern mountain caribou. (Mark Bradley, Boreal Nature Photos)

The British Columbia government plans to sign a caribou protection strategy while it imposes an interim moratorium on new resource development in areas of the South Peace region where the animals are struggling for survival.

Premier John Horgan says a report on caribou recovery recommends the pause to allow for consultation with communities, industries and First Nations.

"Everyone in the Peace region agrees that we need to recover our caribou herds and protect local jobs," said Horgan.

The southern mountain caribou was designated as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act in 2003 when the six herds in the South Peace region had approximately 800 animals. Today there are only 200 animals remaining.

Premier John Horgan announces an interim moratorium on resource development in parts of northeastern B.C. as part of the government's caribou protection plan. (Tristan Le Rudulier/CBC)

The report released Thursday by Blair Lekstrom, former Liberal member of the legislature, makes 14 recommendations, including stopping what it describes as "new high-impact forestry and mining activities" while a new management plan is developed. 

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said the government is protecting caribou herds and limiting the potential economic impact.

Both Lekstrom and Horgan said they regret that the issue of temporary protections for the caribou had inflamed passions and led to racist comments.

"Regrettably, this issue has divided communities and provoked sentiments that have no place in British Columbia," said Horgan. "The only way we will make progress is by working together."

The moratorium will stay in place until June 20, 2021, unless the government repeals it earlier.

With files from The Canadian Press

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