On the last day of the Fall Legislative session, MLA Michelle Mungall again asked the Minister of Energy and Mines to reconsider cuts to BC Hydro that will see the Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) office shut down. This follows a month of waiting for a response to a letter Mungall sent the Minister on this issue.
Lay-off notices given to local staff last month will affect at least six jobs in Nelson, and will be tremendous loss of expertise in the conservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife populations in the region.
Mungall’s October 18th letter to Minister Coleman asked that the decision be immediately rescinded, noting that FWCP biologists provide substantial benefit, not only to the restoration and conservation of species habitat, but also to research, education and communication in the region. No response to that letter has been received.
“Selkirk College has been one benefactor of the vast scientific background and technical knowledge of these biologists. FWCP staff have long served on advisory committees to Selkirk College Fish and Wildlife diploma programs,” says Mungall, “It will be a shame to lose those connections within in the region.”
Mungall brought up the layoffs in November 24’s Question Period asking the Minister, again, to rescind the decision. She pointed out that over 40 scientists and land management professionals have also written the Ministry to ask that these jobs not be lost. Although local FWCP offices in the province are being shut down, BC Hydro must continue to spend the allotted funding for conservation to mediate the effects damning has and continues to have on wildlife populations.
“The scientists and professionals could potentially benefit from the layoffs. They could very well be awarded contracts to fulfill the BC Hydro’s obligations in the province,” noted Mungall, “Yet these people would still see these jobs maintained by long-term ministry staff because they understand the importance of the program’s role in coordination and continuity. We gain nothing by losing these positions in the region.”
To view the video transcript click here.
Hon. Rich Coleman
Minister of Energy and Mines
Dear Minister Coleman,
I write to ask that the direction to BC Hydro to close the Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) be immediately rescinded. The lay-off notices given to the FWCP staff at the Nelson office will impact our region immensely. The impacts include not just the loss of six jobs in Nelson and one in Cranbrook, but the loss of expertise in fish and wildlife compensation.
The projects undertaken by FWCP help conserve and enhance local fish and wildlife populations impacted by the construction of BC Hydro dams. These are funds Hydro must spend as part of their water licenses for the hydro dams in the region. Hydroelectric development has had significant environmental impacts on our region, thus making the FWCP an important service that mitigates the negative impacts via qualified people on the ground where the work is needed.
The FWCP projects are making a difference, from conservation and enhancement programs, to restoration of habitat, to species conservation, and invasive plant control. Biologists from FWCP also play a major role in fish and wildlife research, education, and communication in the region. As an example, FWCP staff have long served on advisory committees to Selkirk College programs, in particular the Recreation Fish and Wildlife diploma program.
That BC Hydro would spend close to $1 billion on the Government’s Smart Meter Initiative, and over $45 billion in 30 years on private power contracts, and then slash an effective program that costs so little fails to make good sense for the Kootenay region. This is an incredible step backwards both environmentally and socially and it must be reversed.
Michelle Mungall, MLA