Last week’s provincial budget contained a little bit of hope that conservation services will improve in the Town of Princeton.
The NDP government announced $9 million to “cover operating pressure” for Conservation Officer Services.
“Well it’s a step in the right direction,” said councillor Doug Pateman, who has led the municipal charge to reopen the Conservation Office here ever since it closed in 2013.
“It’s a heck of a lot more than I expected them to come up with.”
However Pateman confessed he’s not doing a happy dance just yet. “The Southern Interior alone has been calling for some sort of conservation upgrade for four years. We are going to eat through that nine million.”
He said he hopes, with the mayor’s approval, to “get an open line of communication with the ministry to see what we can do. I don’t want to wait until UBCM, by that time that money could be gone.”
Princeton needs a piece of the new pie, he said. “Hopefully I can show that this area needs conservation. We have hunting, we have fishing, we have poaching, the illegal dumping, the ATV enforcement and wildlife. We have enough in the conservation mandate to require it, in my mind.”
At a recent meeting council passed a resolution to the 2018 Southern Interior Local Government Association Convention that “the provincial government be required to provide adequate funding, offices, and staffing to fully support the BC Conservation Service to be more active and proactive in effectively managing conservation services.”
It is the fifth consecutive year that motion has been made.
According to Pateman Princeton residents who report offenses or wildlife to the Conservation Office often wait days for someone to respond, and the nearest officer is coming from either Merritt or Penticton.
“That is not acceptable.”