BC government delivers flawed consultation amidst moves to increase trophy hunting in 2016
February 1, 2016 (Vancouver, B.C.) - Ignoring the fact that 95% of British Columbians oppose any kind of trophy hunt, the B.C. government quietly released a number of proposals for public input in early December 2015 that, if passed, would significantly escalate the trophy hunt of bears and wolves.
The proposals were published on the BC Ministry of Forest Land and Natural Resource Operations’ engagement website with a close date of December 31, 2015. Due to widespread technical difficulties, the proposals were quietly re-opened for feedback on January 8 with a deadline of January 31, 2016.
During the initial consultation period, Pacific Wild was contacted by dozens of individuals who found the site difficult to use, or who were unable to open new accounts or reset passwords for old ones.
“When I contacted Pacific Wild, I had signed up for an online account several times, but never received the automated password the system promised,” said B.C. resident Joan Hendrick, who learned of the opportunity to provide feedback via Pacific Wild’s Facebook Page, “I tried repeating the process several times, but was informed that my email address was already in the system. After checking my spam folders, I contacted Fish and Wildlife. They couldn’t help me, insisting that the problem was on my end. After eighteen emails trying to resolve the issue, I was finally told to submit my comments via email.”
“When people like Joan kept contacting us, we followed up with Fish and Wildlife,” said Ian McAllister, executive director of Pacific Wild. “Their representative could not explain the technical issues and told us that in lieu of submissions through the website they would recognize email submissions that met a number of criteria, not listed anywhere on their website.”
On January 8, “due to technical difficulties with the website”, the deadline for public feedback/comments on proposals was extended to January 31, 2016.
Regardless, complaints regarding site usability and users' inability to open or reactivate accounts continued between January 8 and 31. Instead of addressing the technical issues identified in the December consultation, it appears the feedback period had simply been extended.
“As a small non-profit, we appreciate the challenges and costs of doing online public engagement – but the provincial government is not a small NGO,” said McAllister, “It is simply unacceptable that the Ministry would knowingly run back-to-back consultations on a matter of acute public interest on such a faulty website.”
Pacific Wild has written an open letter to Forest Land and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson outlining their concerns and with five actions the government can take immediately to address the flawed process in this and future instances.
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