VANCOUVER SUN — Vancouver Island MLA Josie Osborne has been appointed as the minister of a new land stewardship ministry in B.C.
Announced in this year’s budget, the $44-million Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship, carved mostly from the responsibilities of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, is meant to stimulate economic activity, environmental sustainability, and Indigenous reconciliation.
It will have a budget of $92 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, has been appointed minister for the new land stewardship ministry. PNG
The change is a “natural evolution” of the resources sector to adapt to the challenges of climate change, reconciliation, and protecting B.C.’s forests, the government said.
The ministry aims to work with Indigenous governments to develop new policies for resource management in line with the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
Premier John Horgan made the minor cabinet shuffle announcement on Friday and said Nathan Cullen, who was involved in creating the new ministry, will replace Osborne as Minister of Municipal Affairs.
Horgan also named MLA Doug Routley as parliamentary secretary for forests to support Forests Minister Katrine Conroy in an attempt “to modernize forestry” in B.C.
The fisheries, aquaculture, and wild salmon files will be moved under the new land stewardship ministry, and Horgan appointed Fin Donnelly, parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture, to work with Osborne.
“The new ministry for land stewardship reflects the fact that natural resources are foundational to our province and they are the backbone of many local economies,” Horgan said in a prepared statement.
Osborne was elected MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim in 2020. Before that, she was the mayor of Tofino from 2013 to 2020. She moved to the region more than 20 years ago to work as a fisheries biologist for the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.
“Minister Josie Osborne’s experience and skill will help the government bring more predictability to the land base while protecting B.C.’s natural heritage and ensuring the benefits are shared more widely now and in the future,” said Horgan.
A shuffling among ministries will mean 90 employees will be added to the new land stewardship ministry, for a total of 1,200.
A service plan was not included in Friday’s announcement but will be developed for the new ministry within 10 days, the government said.
The new ministry’s responsibilities will include:
- Developing a path forward with First Nations to build a co-managed land and resource management system that will ensure natural resources are managed effectively now and in the future.
- Taking the lead on coordinating the government’s “source to tap” strategy to protect drinking water, and coastal marine, watershed security, and wild salmon strategies.
- Liaising with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
- Overseeing biodiversity and ecosystem health, including provincial species at risk policy and program management.
- Modernizing the natural resources sector statutory framework and permitting processes to ensure land-based permitting processes are transparent, timely, and fair.
- Facilitating operational and strategic decision-making across the natural resource ministries.
- Renewing the focus on modernizing B.C.’s forest policy and forest sector renewal.
- Enhancing focus for year-long B.C. Wildfire Service, flood and dike management, and the River Forecast Centre.
- Maintaining responsibility for integrated decision making related to Crown Land, water, fish, and wildlife, archaeology permits and authorizations, and natural resource compliance and enforcement.
Some of the key changes include that responsibility for B.C.’s recreation sites and trails — which has come under fire in recent years for being mismanaged — will move to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
Care of mountain resorts and heritage will move to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport from forests, as will rural development to the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.
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