A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)

B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

The B.C. ministry with the biggest name and footprint in provincial history is being broken up as part of a reform of rural and resource development, Premier John Horgan says.

Newly elected Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen has been assigned the task of reorganizing what is now officially known as the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development into two government departments. That will leave Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy with a focus on forests and rural development as B.C.’s first female forests minister. Cullen, a long-time northwest B.C. MP appointed “minister of state” or assistant to Conroy, will likely end up in charge of the vast Crown lands and resource roads that wind through them.

“When we were sworn in in 2017, it was my desire to have a stand-alone ministry of forests, something that the former B.C. Liberals had rolled in to what is now one of the most unwieldy ministries within government,” Horgan said after revealing his new cabinet lineup Nov. 26. “Minister Cullen’s job, working with Minister Conroy, is to disaggregate that, and take component parts and move them to where they might be better utilized.”

The directive is included in Conroy’s mandate letter, given to each minister by Horgan. Lands and natural resources will be a full-scale department with significant staff, unlike the mental health and addictions ministry that essentially advises the health ministry.

RELATED: What exactly is ‘old growth,’ and how much is protected?

RELATED: B.C. suspends some old-growth logging for consultation

“The ministry was created by Gordon Campbell just days before he resigned as premier,” Horgan said. “It’s been existing for almost a decade without any amendments or visions, and I think it’s an important part of our economic vitality, certainly forests, but also to have the permitting and other processes separated so that they can have a stand-alone minister.”

Campbell’s logic for combining forests and lands was that roads, bridges and sites for logging, mining and other industrial development were linked with care of wildlife, as B.C. struggled with dwindling caribou herds and other conservation issues. Wildlife was moved from environment into what became a super-ministry in charge of more than 90 per cent of the province’s area.

Cullen was elected to replace Doug Donaldson, who retired as Skeena MLA after three and a half years as forests and lands minister. One of his last projects was embarking on a “holistic” old-growth forest preservation strategy, starting with nine regions where logging is deferred for consultations with Indigenous communities in each region.

The nine areas total 3,350 square km, including the Seven Sisters region near Smithers, Incomappleaux Valley, Crystalline Creek and Stockdale Creek watersheds in the Kootenays, the Upper Southgate River that drains to Bute Inlet on the south coast, Skagit-Silverdaisy near the U.S. border and H’Kusam, McKelvie Creek and Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsforestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

A black bear tries to get at a bird feeder at a home near Williams Lake. (Laura Ulrich photo)
Managing bear attractants a top priority in B.C. for 2021: Conservation Officer Service

Garbage, fruit trees, bird feeders, compost and livestock are common attractants for bears

B.C. Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon. (B.C. Cattlemen’s Association photo)
COVID, BSE, water access and private land rights: B.C. Cattlemen’s general manager weighs in

Kevin Boon said positive aspect of pandemic is more people interested in where their food comes from

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

Most Read