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Public, experts weigh in on Whitecourt-region caribou planning

The Whitecourt Chamber Of Commerce hosted an excellent public discussion September 7th, on the goals and impacts of caribou range planning in West-Central Alberta. The panel included representatives of the federal and provincial governments, environmental organizations and the forest and energy industries. More than 300 members of the public attended, including community residents, local business people, woodlands contractors and forest company employees.

Among the key messages heard from government representatives:
– Neither the federal nor the provincial government is seeking a one-size-fits-all solution; both governments acknowledge the need for regional flexibility and for consideration of emerging, locally-based scientific findings.
– Socioeconomic impacts will be considered at the federal cabinet level when provincial plans are evaluated.

The central message received from industry and community representatives:
– People, businesses and municipal governments are very concerned planning decisions that fail to take into account current caribou research and regional stakeholder views could lead to unnecessary job loss, with potentially crippling effects on the economies and well-being of rural communities.

Congratulations go out to event organizers, panelists and moderator Hon. Rob Merrifield on a job well done, and thanks to our employees, colleagues, friends and neighbours who attended. This session was an important opportunity for experts from government, industry and environmental organizations to shed light on the complex issues surrounding caribou recovery, and for public stakeholders to seek information, ask questions and share their concerns.

If you missed the event, you can catch the whole discussion, here!