Tweets go a long way in public participation, Simpson says

Cariboo North Independent MLA Bob Simpson says a little tweet can go a long way.

Cariboo North Independent MLA Bob Simpson says a little tweet can go a long way.

On Tuesday the provincial government withdrew sections of Bill 8 that would have enabled the conversion of replaceable forest licenses into tree farm licenses.

While applauding the move, Simpson also said he’s learned a lesson on engaging citizens outside the legislature.

“On Tuesday, the provincial government responded to mounting public concerns by shelving its plans to make ‘sweeping changes’ to B.C. forest policy.”

That withdrawal came on the heels of a weekend where Simpson’s constituency office worked extensively with social media to launch opposition against the proposed license conversion.

There were 500 tweets using the hash tag — #stopbill8 —  and an online petition garnered 3,651 signatures within about 48 hours, while potentially as many as 3,000 e-mails were sent to the ministers involved, Simpson said.

“It’s an intriguing aspect because I started raising this before anybody knew any legislation was coming. Slowly we’ve engaged more and more people. My freedom from a political party system enabled me to work on public policy while the two main parties were ducking scandal after scandal.”

Simpson said Dunkley Lumber and West Fraser Lumber are both operating in his riding and both would like a roll-over of forest licenses.

“But when I worked with them through it and looked at the implications, we had a situation where they understood if this was done wrong then they wouldn’t get what they wanted at the end of the day. They agreed reluctantly that as much as they would like the roll over, this was not the way to do it.”

Bill Bourgeois, with Healthy Forests Healthy Communities, welcomed the government’s move because while he believes area-based tenures are a good idea, he said they are also complex.

“Seventy-five per cent of B.C. is in volume-based tenures so it’s not a trivial move to convert them to area-based,” Bourgeois said. “You need to have a fair bit of consultation and thought put into how you do that.”

The government has been wise to have more consultation on the topic before introducing any legislation and the delay will allow for a discussion on best how to convert licenses without rushing things through before an election, he said.

“Without modifications, the conversions won’t necessarily be positive and I fear if the government moved quickly with the backlash that was being generated, that the next government would probably have to remove it and there’d be another decade or more before the tool could be introduced or implemented.”

Under area based tenures, Bourgeois argued companies are given an area to operate in and be responsible for, not under volume-based tenures.

Currently volume-based companies require a company to plan the harvest, harvest, and regenerate to free growing, up above the competition.

“All the management after that resides with the government so government is responsible for that while being subject to four-year terms and annual budgets,” Bourgeois said, adding the forests decline as a result.

Government should be the regulator, but not the manager of the resource, he suggested.

“Government’s not going to have the money to invest in the land base because of the economics now and in the future so we have to find others to invest in the forest, but no one’s going to invest if they can’t be guaranteed a return.”

Simpson called on both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP to commit to a full independent public inquiry of forest policy and the state of BC’s forest resources, to begin immediately after the May election.

“The last inquiry into B.C.’s forests and forest policy was in the 1990s, and given all that’s happened with the mountain pine beetle epidemic, our shrinking timber supply, corporate concentration and control of log supply, and climate change’s threat to our public forests, we need a full public inquiry before considering any forest policy changes.”

Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson said “there is no need for a public inquiry.”

“Over the last 12 years, ministry policies have adapted to account for the mountain pine beetle infestation and climate change. For example, the Future Forest Ecosystem Initiative, Stewardship Action Plan for Climate Change, ongoing assisted migration trials, changing the Chief Forester’s standards for seed use.”

Simpson also renewed his call for the establishment of the Chief Forester as an independent officer of the legislative assembly.

“We need to stop politicizing our public forest,” he said. “It’s still our biggest renewable asset.”

Just Posted

An RCMP cruiser. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Police kept busy following overnight vehicle thefts, B&Es near 100 Mile House

One man is facing charges and three others suspects in relation to the thefts

A new banner was unveiled Monday, June 21, in Williams Lake that will hang across Oliver Street. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Orange Shirt Banner Project unveiled in Williams Lake

The Every Child Matters - 215 banner will hang across the city’s main street

(File Photo)
Police watchdog clears 100 Mile RCMP of wrongdoing after man dies in Williams Lake shelter

The man had been in custody at 100 Mile RCMP detachment prior to being taken to Williams Lake

The future of the Quesnel Rec Centre pool is unknown after residents shot down potential renovations in a referendum. (Melanie Law photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Cariboo Regional District, Quesnel residents shoot down pool renovations in referendum

The $20 million project needed approval from people living in the North Cariboo Recreation area

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read