Fish and Wildlife cuts makes us long for Robin Hood

Living in major metropolitan areas, it’s easy to forget about the rural communities like Nelson around you.

Living in major metropolitan areas, it’s easy to forget about the rural communities around you.

In Vancouver, it’s easy to take for granted what happens in communities like Nelson, Trail and Castlegar and ignore what is at stake.

In October, the Star began telling the story of cuts to the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.

The program is an adjunct to BC Hydro and with the crown corporation tightening its purse strings, the Nelson office faced elimination, along with seven jobs.

This week we heard MLA Bill Bennett dangle the carrots of “community engagement meetings” and restructured committees. He says the government is trying to take something successful and make it better.

Well and good, we suppose, but what about saving those jobs and retaining institutional memory and expertise?

The program’s successes are well known, but that doesn’t seem to hold much weight in the interest of cutting heads.

BC Hydro says this is not about saving money — it is obligated to spend $8 million in the Columbia region on fish and wildlife projects — which makes the layoffs all the more baffling.

Hydro executives take home fat paycheques while local biologists are left looking for work. Even those who find other jobs within the company will probably have to relocate their families from West Kootenay.

Cuts are made throughout the province, and while this is often necessary, we’re not convinced they’re always in the right place.

Nurses, hospital employees, and a wide range of public service employees were forced to take a net zero wage increase, while teachers are still fighting for a raise.

Maybe if we cut from the top instead of the bottom, we’d find a little more money in government bank accounts.


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