FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – PRRD Board Chair Brad Sperling appeared on Moose Talks last week to discuss the past year and look ahead to 2022.

Sperling says the hard work of the Peace Region Snowmobile Association put into a report went to waste because their concerns weren’t heard by the government regarding the Caribou Recovery Program.

“None of their concerns were listened to, or even their comments, so we’re very disappointed over the way the process went. There was no real, proper, robust conversation with that, so the board has directed us to send the province a letter,” said Sperling.

One of the concerns he raised was that, of the available trails, there’s no access to them.

“30 to 70 per cent of the backcountry isn’t closed, but there was no access to it. How do you get there? How are they going to govern this? Who’s monitoring it? Those conversations weren’t had, the socioeconomic studies are still ongoing, they were never completed. But, decisions have been made without really informing us.”

Sperling wonders whether future issues will be addressed like this.

“Is there going to be any consultation or discussion on other subjects? It becomes very disheartening. We work hard at getting our residents and communities involved in different issues, and having the conversation to help guide it. When things like this come out, it deters future involvement from the public.”

Sperling says the devastating wind storm that blew down swaths of trees near the Blueberry River First Nations has created a dangerous fire hazard.

“Those areas have to be cleaned up. With the wildfires and floods and everything else that goes on, if those areas aren’t cleaned up, you’re just inviting disaster. They said they would come up before spring and have a look at it.”

The final thing Sperling brought up as he looks to the next year was continuing to build upon relationships with First Nations.

“As hard as it is to do with COVID-19, you can’t meet in person, it’s very slow, but we signed an MOU in 2020 with Saulteau. Last year, we signed one with [West Moberly First Nation].

We want to continue building those relationships because we’re all here. We’re not going anywhere, and we need to move together. I think that’s a huge, huge part of what the district is going to aim for this coming year.”