The association representing ranchers in B.C. is applauding the federal government’s swift reversal on a plan to axe a fish habitat restoration program.
Last month, the Trudeau government said it would eliminate the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) resource restoration programs in the province, a move criticized by conservationists, First Nations and ranchers.
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative MP Cathy McLeod came out against the cuts. On Thursday, she learned, during a committee meeting in the House of Commons, the government would seek savings elsewhere.
“They announced they’d restore all the programs,” McLeod told KTW.
While the MP applauded the move, she called its quiet announcement and reversal a month later “very bizarre.”
The B.C. Cattlemen’s Association was among groups critical of the move. The program provides education in schools, hatchery enhancement and work on the ground in stream restoration on private lands.
“I’ve never seen a decision reversed so quickly in all my life,” association general manager Kevin Boon said. “They must have realized its importance.”
The program sees planning and other resources made available to ranchers for stream restoration on their lands. Boon said it is critical in helping fish habitat and to preserve land after flood events, for example.
“For all the years for it to be cancelled, this would be the worst,” said Boon, referring to flood waters in a number of small streams in the Interior this spring.
“You don’t fix this damage overnight — it will be years.”
McLeod said the announcement by Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary for the DFO, was accompanied by a vow to find saving elsewhere within the ministry.
“That leaves an unanswered question in terms of what they’ll do with other changes,” she said.