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

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Lake Babine Nation closure sign
Lake Babine Nation issues COVID numbers update

Urges members to follow provincial health orders

NH representative confirmed that people who received their first dose will be scheduled to receive their second dose within the recommended timeframe.(The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette photo)
Vaccine rollout abruptly halted in Lakes District

Northern Health cites Pfizer shipment delays for the vaccine distribution disruption

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

(File Photo)
Interior Health says COVID positivity rates in Fernie area actually 10-12%

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Most Read