If the province doesn’t do its homework, a proposed caribou conservation plan could have a severe impact on northern business, says the head of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber president Harold Wilson said on Friday that Ontario’s Woodland Caribou Conservation Plan contradicts other proposed legislation from the province that would help development in the North.
"We are very concerned that if they don’t do a proper economic impact analysis on this type of legislation before it comes in, it could have a severe impact on business investment in Northern Ontario," Wilson said.
"On the one hand you have the northern growth strategy that wants to allow development, but it’s these pieces of legislation that come out that are not adequately dealt with and the impact on jobs and investment that hasn’t really been studied that have a countervailing impact."
But Ministry of Natural Resources caribou conservation manager Michael Gluck said finding a balance between conserving caribou and business is exactly what the province is looking to do. Gluck was in Thunder Bay Friday on the third stop of a five-city public consultation tour to hear feedback on the proposed plan.
The plan is going to protect land for caribou and socio-economic needs in the North he said.
"So people and caribou can co-exist," Gluck said.
The public stakeholder’s meeting at the Victoria Inn Friday was designed to explain the proposed plan and hear questions and concerns from representatives of the forestry industry, fishing and hunting groups, municipal and First Nations leaders.
“Most importantly it’s an opportunity for us to listen to public concerns about the approach," Gluck said. "As they provide input into what we’re doing help us make a better approach."
Woodland caribou are listed as a threatened species in Ontario. Habitat regulations are required so areas used by caribou aren’t destroyed or disturbed. But because the caribou use such a large geographical area, he said some disturbances from development can occur.
"As long as we make sure that we manage within those limits then we know that caribou can continue to persist on the landscape," said Gluck.
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