The Liberal government of British Columbia has announced funding of $35 million over three years to support provincial parks and the resources that protect them – a welcome surprise. Sadly, we can’t help but look this gift horse right in the mouth.
Programs such as the park rangers have been underfunded for years – in fact, our friends at the Wilderness Committee issued a press release last summer noting the number of full time park rangers (who patrol a total of 14 million hectares) fell from 27 in 2001 to seven in the spring of 2016. Even with auxiliary rangers, hired seasonally, that would mean one ranger per 10 parks.
In their press release, the BC Liberal government states, “The funding will result in approximately 25 more full-time park rangers, new programs to promote and protect the natural environment, as well as an initial endowment for a new BC Parks Foundation.”
Any funding increase to the parks system is cause for a celebration. But, given that there’s a provincial election a few months down the road, it’s important to ask some questions. For instance, why did the government allow the number of rangers to fall from 27 to seven – all under the watch of provincial Liberal governments? Why are they creating funding to promote and protect the natural environment while allowing it to be destroyed in the habitat of endangered caribou, and killing wolves instead of stopping industrial activity? Is this a change of policy, away from consumptive use of wildlife (such as the grizzly bear trophy hunt), and towards humane ecological recreation and tourism? Or is this what a jaded mind may see: pre-election spending to try and grab more votes in May?
The Fur-Bearers won’t tell you who to vote for in the provincial election. But we are asking that you speak to your candidates, read their platforms, and, in the case of this gift horse, look it in the mouth. To find out more about your candidates, ridings, and the 2017 provincial election, visit elections.bc.ca.