Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips is pumping the brakes on the Caribou Protection Plan, saying a little more work is needed before it is followed through. Phillips addressed the Alberta legislature saying that the plan, which will try to protect the natural habitat of the Woodland Caribou, is absolutely vital, but doesn’t want to risk jobs in the province.
City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland agrees with the halt and says the local economy has to be factored in.
“I think it’s the right thing to do. I think they rushed getting ahead, one of the few provinces that were working on it. I think with the state of the economy, concern on the impact of the oil patch, forestry and mining, I think it’s good the government has decided to wait it out.”
The province originally released the draft plan on Dec 19th of last year and held a series of town halls in communities that would be affected, including Cold Lake. Mayor Copeland says some of the feedback officials heard at the meetings was reason enough to reassess the direction.
“They held these things around the province and I know up in the north a lot of people were really concerned and I think it maybe caught everyone off guard. There’s genuine concern in all these communities that jobs are gonna be affected by an aggressive caribou management plan.”
The feds in Ottawa have responded, saying they are determined to continue the work on conserving the species and will continue to work with Alberta