Public engagement sessions are coming to the West Kootenays this week on a draft section 11 agreement for the protection of southern mountain caribou.

Premier John Horgan held a press conference in Dawson Creek yesterday to address concerns that were raised during public meetings in the Peace Region.

One issue that was brought up was the lack of involvement by local government and the general public prior to the agreements being announced:

“Governments need to anticipate those issues and address them in a way that doesn’t lead to the type of animosity that we’ve had at public meetings since this issue broke publicly. So, I’ve learned a lesson from that and as we go forward we’re going to do a better job of allowing people some time to understand why we’re having the conversation.”

The Premier said he realizes now that more time is needed to address the concerns of residents:

“At these public meetings, where often you’d like to have an elected representative, we were sending public officials who were, in some instances, not able to answer to questions the public was bringing up because they weren’t connected to the specific issue at play.”

Horgan iterated that the issue has been brought forward by the federal government’s legislation and that we all have an obligation to find a way forward.

Meetings will be held tonight in Nelson and tomorrow in Nakusp.