The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (CVWMA) is indisputably a 7000 hectare Kootenay jewel. It all started in 1947, when Dr. James Munro of the Canadian Wildlife Service completed his biological study of the area, concluding that the “Kootenay Flats constitute the largest and most important resting and feeding ground for waterfowl in the interior of British Columbia.”
By 1960, the BC Wildlife Federation and West Kootenay Association of Rod and Gun Clubs defined the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, giving it boundaries when they proposed to purchase all surrounding Crown lands around Duck Lake for wildlife conservation. While their proposal was rejected, it started something, and eight years later the Government of British Columbia passed the Creston Valley Wildlife Act, creating the CVWMA.
To this day, the CVWMA and its operations are defined by the Creston Valley Wildlife Act. Recently, the Liberal government issued a press release saying they signed a 30 year agreement with Ducks Unlimited and will now be managing the CVWMA under the Wildlife Act.
First, I should say that the release was a surprise. Just weeks ago, I asked the Minister for the whereabouts the four-year-old CVWMA Mandate Review, then asked him to commit to a non-partisan approach on this issue. The CVWMA has existed and will exist for decades, ideally centuries, if we all work together for its best interest. He said he would honour that and would meet with me. I requested that meeting, only to be refused. Next thing I know, he issued the press release, claiming a done deal.
More importantly than speaking with me, however, was the need to work with local residents. The same day I asked the Minister for a non-partisan approach, I also asked about public consultation. He said he received input, but offered no more detail. You can read the transcript below.
I find it disconcerting that on such an important community issue, you were left out the loop. Local government officials also told me that they were unaware that the Liberals were considering a direct partnership with Ducks Unlimited. This isn’t the fault of Ducks Unlimited –an amazing organization doing fantastic work. Rather, leaving us out of meaningful dialogue on one of our regional jewels is simply poor process by the Liberals.
Had we been in the loop, this is what we would know: There is NOT a 30 year agreement with Ducks Unlimited. Rather, there is a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) for infrastructure upgrades and operations for now. A thirty year agreement requires the government to repeal the Creston Valley Wildlife Act, which they have not done and will not do until after an election should the new government –whoever that may be—want to go that route.
This is significant because the Liberals have ignored important MOUs once an election is over –just ask Simon Fraser University about the MOU for their Surrey Campus. So inside the rhetoric, what we have is a desperate government delivering misleading announcements to curry favour with voters after a decade of neglect. This isn’t fair to you or Ducks Unlimited.
Regardless of how the Liberals operate on this issue, I remain committed to the best interests of the CVWMA. That involves you, partners like Ducks Unlimited and a transparent process. This jewel is too precious, and its care too important to play politics and leave anyone out of the loop.