October 31, 2008
MINISTRY SHOULD HEED LOCAL CONCERNS ABOUT KOKANEE SAY NDP MLAS
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.”