Letter to the Hon. Barry Penner Minister MOE - November 23 2009

November 23, 2009
Letter to the Hon. Barry Penner Minister MOE re. budget and staffing.
Jim Culp Chair Northern Branch Steelhead Society of BC
November 19, 2009
To - Hon. Barry Penner Minister
Ministry of Environment
Parliament Buildings
Victoria B.C.
Fax 250-387-1356

From - Jim Culp Chairperson
Northern Branch of the Steelhead Society of BC
5321 Mountain Vista Drive
Terrace BC V8G4X4

Dear Mr. Penner, In reference to the brief our organization presented on October 22, 2009 to the Select Standing Committee on Finances and Government Services on the “Budget for the Ministry of Environment Fisheries and Habitat Stewardship Sections.

In our brief we outlined a number of very serious concerns to do with the proposed budget for the Fisheries and Habitat Sections for 2009/10 and for a number of years into the future. These two MOE Sections have become skeleton operations that are no longer capable of managing the majority of British Columbia’s fresh water fisheries and their essential habitats. It is unacceptable that your Government is prepared to downsize these two Stewardship Sections even further when there is so much at stake. The Provincial Government has a fiduciary responsibility to manage and to protect the freshwater fishery resource of British Columbia at an acceptable level of competence. That competence can not be easily measured, but one way or another will be judged by the citizens of this province.

In our presentation we have made some suggestions on how budgets and staff can be increased even during these difficult times. Unfortunately a mistake that we made in our presentation is that we did not include the impact of the proposed HST upon the introduction of a dedicated special tax to raise revenue for fish and fish habitat management.

We are proposing an alternative. It is now our understanding that not only will the proposed HST be applied to all goods (fishing tackle) and services but it also will be applied to angling licenses and special angling fees. Because British Columbian’s would never embrace another new tax regardless of how important it may be it is our view that all the revenue from the sale of licenses and special fees + the HST should go towards the management of the freshwater fishery and its habitat. And further that all of the HST revenue from the sale of fishing tackle should be dedicated or channeled into the management of the freshwater fishery and its habitat.

On “CBC Almanac” November 18, Don Peterson from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC discussed a just completed study which showed that British Columbia’s freshwater recreational fishery generates more than $500 million annually. That money goes back into the BC economy and Government coffers and employs many people. With that kind of revenue being generated our request for more funding and staff for fisheries and habitat management is justified and the responsible thing for your government to do.

We look forward to a sympathetic response to our ideas and proposals. In the interests of the freshwater fishery our Northern Branch of the S.S. would be more than happy to sit down with you or a representative from your Ministry to explore the options that we have proposed. Your Government needs to move us from the dilemma that has compounded since the mid-nineties to a stable and productive freshwater management regime that can be counted on to do the job that British Columbians expect and are entitled too.
Yours sincerely
Jim Culp Chairperson
Robin Austin MLA Skeena
Rob Flemming MLA Victoria - Swan Lake, Critic for Environment
John Les Chair for the Select Standing Committee on Finances and Government Services
Doug Donaldson Deputy Chair S.S. Committee Finances and Government Services MLA Bulkley - Stikine
Jason Tonelli President of the Steelhead Society of BC