Election 2017: The Conservation Officer Service in Revelstoke

We ask the candidates for Columbia River-Revelstoke what they will do to address the lack of Conservation Officer in Revelstoke.

  • May. 5, 2017 3:00 p.m.
The candidates for Columbia River-Revelstoke, clockwise from top left: Doug Clovechok (BC Liberal), Gerry Taft (BC NDP), Samson Boyer (Green), Justin Hooles (independent) and Duncan MacLeod (independent).

The candidates for Columbia River-Revelstoke, clockwise from top left: Doug Clovechok (BC Liberal), Gerry Taft (BC NDP), Samson Boyer (Green), Justin Hooles (independent) and Duncan MacLeod (independent).

In 2012, Revelstoke’s Conservation Officer retired. Since then, the community – and the whole area from Shelter Bay to Mica Dam – has been without one. Calls have come in from city council, the Rod & Gun Club, Bear Aware, the North Columbia Environmental Society, MLA Norm Macdonald and other to hire another CO for the community. The government has repeatedly rebuffed the requests.

We asked the candidates for Columbia River–Revelstoke what they would about this.

Revelstoke has been without a Conservation Officer for four years. This has led to numerous issues, such as bears becoming habituated to garbage, illegal fishing & hunting, and police and local hunters being asked to deal with wildlife issues. How do you propose to address these issues? Will you make a commitment to hire a CO for the Revelstoke area, or do you see other ways of managing these problems?

Samson Boyer, Green

The record on conservation by both this BC Liberal government, and the NDP before them, is abysmal.

I absolutely support the hiring of additional COs for Revelstoke as well as other parts of the region. I advocate increasing funding for conservation dramatically to properly protect and conserve our wildlife and their habitats.

Not only do we need COs to ensure laws are upheld, we need the expertise of biologists and other scientists to guide the legislation and how we best utilize increased funding.

The BC Greens are already showing their commitment to this issue. By drafting the Endangered Species Act of BC, BC Greens are ensuring that existing endangered species are protected and that no further species join the list.

The jurisdictions to our south, Washington and Idaho, are both spending significantly more – quadruple, in fact – on wildlife and habitat conservation. These regions are smaller geographically with far less diversity.

The fact that this issue has gone for so long unaddressed is truly a disgrace. This issue alone demonstrates how badly we are in need of change.

Doug Clovechok, Liberal

I wish I had been your MLA the past four years. As a government MLA, I could have fought to retain that all-important Conservation Office. I cannot guarantee you I will be successful in this, if you honour me with the job of MLA, but I can guarantee you that if I am your MLA, I will fight hard and long for a CO in the Revelstoke area.

Unlike my NDP opponent who admits he has never held gun in his life, I hunt and fish and I quad. I know how much outdoor activity takes place here and I know how many bears are being shot around town.

With the new $14 million in funding for wildlife management announced recently, we will need enough CO’s to support the growth of wildlife populations, free from poaching. We will also need a regular Wildlife Act law enforcement presence. That means a CO.

You have my word this will be a high priority and please believe me when I say, I am no shrinking violet. I will go after this hard.

Justin Hooles, independent

This has gone on too long and Revelstoke needs a dedicated Conservation Officer now. Our riding is 39,135 square kilometres; it is vast and abundant in outdoor activities of all sorts. It is important that we protect people’s rights to enjoy these activities in a responsible manner, but that when conflict arises we have the necessary tools to handle it. This includes a CO.

The entire idea of RAPP or Recreation Access Management Plans, bears no purpose if we have no one to enforce the rules and ensure things are being handled accordingly. How are four COs supposed to cover such a wide area with so much activity going on? To compare us to a neighbouring riding, Kootenay East is 10,415 square kilometres and has six Conservation Officers throughout.

I am prepared to take up this fight and I don’t have a party to tell me to drop it. I will bring up the issue as often I must to get the government to understand how imperative the implementation of more COs is. There is no alternative. I will do this in question period and through in-person conversations with the Minister of the Environment until this need is met.

Gerry Taft, NDP

We need more conservation officers throughout British Columbia, and Revelstoke, in my mind, is at the top of the list. The BC NDP would ensure there is one or more conservation officer based in Revelstoke and that these positions would not come at the expense of a nearby community.

In addition to investing in more conservation officers we will invest in BC Parks, improve wildlife management by focusing on evidence-based scientific approaches and making serious commitments to ecosystem management, which includes better monitoring of forestry and other resource industries.There are some great local initiatives in Revelstoke to work on making the community more bear safe and managing and reducing attractants. I look forward to the opportunity to work with the community and help to expand and enhance these grassroots efforts.

Duncan Macleod, independent

No response.

 

Revelstoke Times Review