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Liberal Party Response

 

PARTY AND CANDIDATE QUESTIONS FOR 2017 PROVINCIAL ELECTION

1. In terms of fish, wildlife and habitat, British Columbia is one of the most diverse jurisdictions in North America. At the same time, B.C. is one of the most under-funded jurisdictions in North America and has no dedicated funding model. Would you support increased funding for fish, wildlife and habitat (i.e. watershed, landscape) management? Yes/No/How?

Response:

Our province’s natural beauty is rightfully a point of pride for British Columbians.  It is also a gift to the world and we have a responsibility to enhance and protect it.  To this end, Today’s BC Liberal government has worked hard to enhance fish, wildlife and habitat management. 

In 2015, we signed an agreement with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC to put 100% of the revenue generated from fishing licences directly back into research, conservation and stocking projects. The Society stocks about 800 lakes and streams across BC every year.  We also established the Living Rivers Trust, a $21 million fund to promote healthy watersheds, sustainable ecosystems and thriving communities. Since 2006, more than 300 projects have improved watershed governance, fisheries management, habitat, and increased public engagement in watershed stewardship.

Today’s BC Liberals will develop a plan to protect Steelhead Trout to preserve the species and their spawning grounds, including reaching out to the federal government to develop a collaborative approach. We will also endow the new Wildlife Society with $5 million to manage and grow habitat, with future hunting fee revenue going towards the society to support their efforts.

 

2. Fish, wildlife and habitat management in B.C. are currently objectiveless. Many fish and wildlife populations are in decline, and some are at record lows. Cumulative effects in parts of British Columbia from unsustainable resource extraction, invasive species, over-allocation of water resources, and road densities have left our landscape “in the red”. Do you support legislated objectives for habitat, fish and wildlife populations? Yes/No/Why? How would you achieve them?

Response:

Today’s BC Liberals are focused on protecting fish, wildlife and their habitats, but we can do this without specific targets.  Instead, we use species management plans, such as the Mountain Goat Management Plan.

Today, 100% of angling licence revenue goes to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, which in turn invests back into the resource. We will also develop a plan to protect Steelhead Trout to preserve the species and their spawning grounds, including reaching out to the federal government to develop a collaborative approach.

Our platform includes a commitment to endow the new Wildlife Society with $5 million to manage and grow habitat, with future hunting fee revenue going towards the society to support their efforts. Additionally, habitat is legislatively protected through the Wildlife Act, Offroad Vehicle Act, and the Forests and Range Practices Act. 

 

3. Many mountain caribou populations are at a record low and moose populations are in significant decline in parts of B.C. Science has shown anthropogenic change as the leading cause, as wolf predation has become a major source of mortality. Do you support predator management as a part of sustainable science-based wildlife management?

Response:

Today’s BC Liberals are committed to healthy and sustainable wildlife populations. We put conservation first to protect our province’s natural beauty and wildlife for future generations.

Our government has acted to protect the long-term survival of BC’s caribou. We’ve already invested millions of dollars and set aside critical habitat.  And earlier this month, we took strong action to help reverse the population decline and ensure the long-term survival of BC’s caribou. Our new, $27 million comprehensive caribou recovery program will build on existing recovery plans while using a more holistic approach that focuses on five key areas - restoring and protecting critical caribou habitat, expanding on existing maternal penning projects, predator management, increased research and monitoring, and increased compliance and enforcement.

We are also in the midst of a comprehensive five-year moose study, investigating recent moose population declines in B.C.'s Interior, and we have dedicated $1.2 million to moose enhancement activities this year. This is in addition to the $725,000 being spent on moose management and our 5-year comprehensive moose research project. More than 200 moose will be radio collared, their movements tracked and mortalities will be investigated to determine cause of death.

Predator management is never our first choice and we use it only when necessary and supported by independent, science-based evidence.

 

4. First Nations negotiations in B.C. are ongoing. These negotiations are Government to Government with no public transparency or consultation. This approach is divisive and is creating significant uncertainty and externalities due to a lack of public involvement. Do you believe the public should be involved or consulted, related to negotiations? Yes/No/Why/How?

Response:

Today’s BC Liberals are committed to province-wide reconciliation, and also reconciliation on a nation-to-nation basis.  We want to ensure this work is understood and supported by communities, local governments and industry.Our government has enhanced engagement with stakeholders, emphasizing earlier and more frequent engagement with local government and industry.This helps ensure the agreements and partnerships we build with First Nations are supported throughout the negotiations process and that meaningful relationships are established and respected.

 

5. Public access to public resources such as fish, wildlife, public roads, and campsites is a growing issue in British Columbia. For example, in 2015, government decided to award as much as 40 per cent of the wildlife allocation to guide-outfitters. Is public access to public resources, such as fishing, hunting, camping and hiking important to you? How will you deal with these issues?

Response:

BC has a world-class park system that is the envy of the world.  Our success has brought increasing demand, with more than 23 million visits each year. Today’s BC Liberals believe that stewardship of the land and ensuring our natural environment’s well-being through strengthened conservation is a core responsibility of government. So we’re investing $149 million for parks and environmental protection.  This includes adding additional funding for the BC Parks Future Strategy to add 1,900 new campsites to help meet growing demand, new park rangers who will focus on protecting and preserving the backcountry, and new programs to promote and protect the environment.

Our wildlife management principles are conservation first, followed by First Nations’ harvest, and then hunting. Resident hunters are given a higher priority than non-residents, meaning that the share that goes to residents is considerably greater than the share that goes to non-residents.