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

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Dennis Dugas photo)
Port Hardy mayor talks two years in office, ready to move forward in 2021

Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas tackles a number of different topics in an interview with the Gazette.

Dex needs surgery after breaking his paw in the panic caused by an apartment fire. (Submitted)
Dog needs surgery after apartment fire injury

A fundraiser has been started to contribute towards veterinarian costs

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read