Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More on the McAbee fossil site

by Dr. Bruce Archibald

The McAbee fossil site is a world-class treasure that we can be proud of—it has been discussed at scientific meetings around the world and in prominent scientific journals. But, it is being rapidly degraded through ongoing mismanagement. Charlie’s absolutely right in pointing toward what they’re doing at Eastend, Saskatchewan with the T. rex Centre as a model of what we could do here ( click on “T. rex Centre” in the top right box). Rather than destroy the heritage jewel of the McAbee as is being done now, such proper management would be a long-term benefit to all people, locally, regionally, and provincially, not only in preserving our heritage in a manner that benefits us all by its educational values, but also in providing a sustainable income source, attracting visitors from around the world to visit the region. This is a wonderful thing that we could show the world with pride; but it needs care. Once this treasure is gone, it’s gone forever.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Homeless

Mr. Speaker,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak today about a man in my constituency whose daily work brings him in contact with our communities’ most vulnerable citizens. I speak of the men, women, and children among us who have no home.

Wayne Lucier works through the Canadian Mental Health Association to support the homeless in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

Every day Mr. Lucier works with his clients to find affordable housing. However this man is not a realtor searching for the perfect waterfront condo or luxury estate. He is searching for that basic necessity to which all citizens in BC are entitled: clean, safe, affordable shelter.

Finding this shelter is not simple. Many of Mr. Lucier’s clients need other assistance such as mental health support, financial support, addiction services, and food banks. Only then can the search for affordable, clean, safe housing begin.

A count in Williams Lake shows 85 people without homes. In 100 Mile House no official count has determined the exact number of homeless. But referral information from volunteer and government agencies point to a need for affordable housing in that community also.

Every day Wayne Lucier is faced with finding homes for the homeless. When no affordable housing exists he turns to the Friendship Centre’s shelter. Without this resource, many homeless people in the Cariboo would have to live on the street – a dangerous situation in winter temperatures of minus 35 degrees.

Unfortunately the Friendship Centre’s resources are limited and there is not always space available when needed. Mr. Lucier has told me that the biggest barrier for his clients in our community is the lack of affordable housing.

Mr. Speaker, I thank Wayne Lucier for all his efforts on behalf of the citizens of Cariboo communities. I ask the House to join with me in recognizing Mr. Lucier’s work in improving the lives of others.

Aboriginal Issues

Mr. Speaker,

On Friday I had the honour to join my colleague, the Member from New Westminster and several chiefs of First Nations bands in a moving ceremony in New Westminster.

As the House knows from a previous address I gave in this chamber, the Chilcotin War of 1864 had a long term effect on the First Nations people of the Interior Plateau. Six chiefs of the Chilcotin nation went to war against Alfred Waddington and his men who were intent on building a road from Bute Inlet through the Tsilhqot’in territories to the Cariboo Goldfields. The chiefs were trying to protect their families and territory after 60% of their people had been decimated by a smallpox outbreak.

As a result of the Chilcotin War of 1864, six Tsilhqot’in Chiefs were executed – five of them in Quesnel and the sixth in New Westminster. While the remains of the five chiefs executed in Quesnel have been found, the sixth chief’s remains were never located.

Friday’s ceremony in New Westminster is a first step in closing a circle that has remained open for 143 years. This moving ceremony in honour of Ahan, the fallen missing warrior, recognized the Chief’s efforts to protect his people and their way of life.

Attending Friday’s ceremony were the current six chiefs of the Tsilhqot’in people, five former chiefs, several elders and youth from the Tsilhqot’in bands, Linda Price, chief of the Carrier people and representative of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Wayne Wright, Mayor of New Westminster, the chair and vice-chair of the New Westminster Board of Education as well as other representatives of the New Westminster School District . The gathering was welcomed by Sheral Wright, daughter of Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the New Westminster Indian Band (Qay Qay’t).

Mr. Speaker, I know the House joins with me in celebrating this first step toward resolving a long standing injustice and closing a circle for the First Nations people of the Interior Plateau.

McAbee Fossil Site

For Immediate Release
October 23, 2008


WILLIAMS LAKE— The McAbee fossil bed has suffered severe damage during six years of Campbell government inaction says Cariboo South MLA Charlie Wyse. The New Democrat MLA believes that the government needs to take significant steps to protect what is left of the site.

“After six long years of inaction only one of the mineral claims on the site is being regulated,” said Wyse. “It is not acceptable for a precious cultural and scientific resource to be turned into kitty litter. The government needs to work with the scientific community to assess the McAbee fossil beds and protect what remains."

Cariboo South MLA Charlie Wyse is happy that the Campbell Liberal government is beginning to take steps to protect the McAbee fossil bed. Paleontologists have been sounding the alarm about destructive mining of the site since 2002.

"I've been advocating for the protection of the McAbee fossil bed ever since this issue was brought to my attention," said Wyse. "While more protection of the McAbee site is welcome, I'm concerned that it has been left in the hands of the same commercial interests that have imposed wholesale destruction on the site."

Dr. Bruce Archibald, a paleontologist and post-doctoral fellow with Simon Fraser University who has studied McAbee insects and ecology, is not optimistic about the future of the site.

"While it's heartening that the Province is finally beginning to address the serious, tragic loss of an internationally significant fossil resource at the McAbee, the current MOU is clearly insufficient in protecting this paleontological treasure, and does not yet represent real progress,” said Archibald. “As the situation stands, deeply problematic issues remain unresolved that continue to threaten the scientific, heritage, and educational aspects of the site."
_The McAbee fossil bed is of great paleontological significance with extraordinary fossil resources that exist no where else in the world.

"Clearly the province needs a better framework in place to protect fossil sites. A scientific resource of this magnitude should not be subject to strip mining," said Wyse. "These fossils and the knowledge that is embedded in them are too important to be given away to commercial interests."
_Wyse has been advocating for the McAbee site to be developed as a paleontological interpretive centre like the T-Rex Discovery Centre in Eastend, Saskatchewan. A centre would not only protect the heritage value of the fossils and provide public interpretation and research but also provide economic benefits to regional communities.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

On the Environment

October 31, 2008


WILLIAMS LAKE—The Ministry of Environment did not follow due and proper process when they stocked Chimney Lake with Kokanee salmon against the wishes of First Nations and other residents and stakeholders, say New Democrat MLAs Bob Simpson and Charlie Wyse.

The Cariboo MLAs have written to Environment Minister Barry Penner to express their concerns about the way the process was handled.

“Landowners, residents and First Nations all said no to Kokanee in Chimney Lake,” said Wyse, the MLA for Cariboo South. “The Ministry of the Environment has made a mockery of the consultation process by blatantly disregarding the wishes of major stakeholders in the region.”

Stakeholders were even more upset when the Ministry of the Environment proceeded with stocking the lake even after the Environmental Appeal Board agreed to hear an appeal concerning the issue.

"We felt slighted because due process wasn't followed," stated Mike Lamb, Chimney Lake Landholders Association Committee member, " It didn't matter what arguments community members made the Ministry of the Environment Officials were determined to go ahead with their decision to stock Chimney Lake with Kokanee. We definitely do not want more stocking of Chimney Lake with Kokanee to take place."

“I’m concerned that the process used in this decision was flawed,” said Wyse. “It is pointless to have an appeal process if actions are allowed to proceed before an appeal is even heard.”

Kokanee salmon are not native to Chimney Lake, and residents and First Nations are concerned that they may displace the native Rainbow Trout in Chimney and neighbouring Felker Lake.

Both MLAs believe that the wishes of First Nations and other local residents as well as sound scientific reasoning should be paramount when the Ministry of the Environment seeks to alter the environment for recreational purposes.

” We are not in support of the stocking of Chimney Lake because proper consultation with Williams Lake Indian Band did not take place,” states Chief Ann Louie of Williams Lake Indian Band, “This is a part of the traditional territory of Secwepemc people. Our community members utilize this lake for fishing and we would like to preserve this lake for generations to come.”

“It is absolutely mystifying that the Ministry of the Environment would push ahead with stocking this lake with a non native species in the absence of local assent or a compelling scientific reason,” said Simpson, the MLA for Cariboo North. “It appears that the arrogance of the Campbell government is infecting the ministries under their watch.”

“In the interests of reconciliation and building positive relationships with First Nations, the Ministry of the Environment should not have proceeded before engaging in consultation with the appropriate aboriginal authorities,” said Wyse. “There was no reason to rush ahead and irreparably alter this lake.”

On Behalf of Ranchers

For Immediate Release
Friday, October 3, 2008


WILLIAMS LAKE— New Democrat Agriculture Critic Charlie Wyse is hoping that a UBCM resolution supporting his private member’s bill will force the Campbell Liberal government to act to protect ranchers from losing their livestock to trains.

Wyse, the MLA for Cariboo South, says that even as his bill was being lauded by community representatives at the UBCM conference, his office was receiving calls about cattle that were recently killed by trains.

“Campbell shows that he is out of touch with rural British Columbians as he continues to ignore this issue,” said Wyse. “His government created this situation when they privatized the rail line without ensuring that the interests of industries and individuals along the rail line were protected.”

B.C. Rail used to take responsibility for the construction and maintenance of fencing and rail crossings and when livestock were struck they had a practice of contacting the ranchers so they were aware of their loss and able to deal with injured animals humanely. Upon proof of loss B.C. Rail would also reimburse the cost of the animal. Wyse’s private member’s bill would legislate these practices, which are not being followed by CN.

Cheryl and Ed Monical are among the ranchers who have lost cattle, and they are fed up with having to absorb the losses caused by the railway.

“We’ve lost cattle, and so have our neighbours,” said Cheryl Monical. “We just found a couple more rotting by the tracks. It infuriates me that CN doesn’t contact ranchers when they kill our cattle, or do anything to prevent this from happening. The Campbell government needs to step in and make this stop; it wasn’t a problem before they sold the railway.”

Wyse says that the UBCM resolution should be a wake up call for the Campbell Liberals, who are the only ones ignoring the problems caused by their sale of B.C. Rail.

“My private member’s bill is sensible and it would protect ranchers from unnecessary losses,” said Wyse. “Campbell needs to stop siding with the railway, and to start listening to the ranchers who were impacted by the sale of B.C. Rail.”