Lakecity DFO future uncertain

It’s not yet known what will become of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans office in Williams Lake.

It’s not yet known what will become of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans office in Williams Lake.

According to media reports, the Williams Lake office is one of several in the B.C. and the Yukon to close. Others include Mission, Nelson, Campbell River, Prince George, Smithers, and Port Hardy, leaving Whitehorse, Prince Rupert, Kamloops, Vancouver, and Nanaimo.

However, Tom Robbins, senior communications advisor for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says offices aren’t necessarily closing.

He says employees at Fisheries and Oceans Canada have been informed by managers that they may be affected by changes to the Habitat Management program in the department.

“However, this does not necessarily mean that they will lose their job; they may be asked to relocate or be redeployed within the department or government,” Robbins says, adding that DFO is changing how it delivers its Habitat Management program across the country to increase efficiency and focus on priorities. He says DFO will work with stakeholders and partners to develop regulations, policies and other tools needed to make the changes.

“As departmental planning to redesign the habitat program is ongoing, no final decisions about office closures have been made at this time,” he says, adding that if any positions in the habitat program are lost at the Williams Lake office, staff will be moved to other programs or offices.

Cariboo Prince George MP Dick Harris says he can’t comment on specifics, but says there are cutbacks across the country.

“As we go through a rationalization of many departments, we do have budget cutbacks, of course, so across the country there will be some office closures, and I know that these moves are taken after a lot of consideration on how the responsibilities are going to carry on,” Harris says, adding that cutbacks are being made in government departments across the country.

“They are not just arbitrarily made. A lot of discussion goes in and trying to rationalize how they can do it without affecting services.”

— With files from the Nelson Star.