Friday February 25, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
A new robust ministry with 1,230 staff got launched today, with the swearing-in of Josie Osborne as the new Minister of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship (LWRS) and Minister Responsible for Fisheries.
That was announced this morning at 10:30 am in a news release from Premier John Horgan’s office, ahead of the official appointments done at Government House in Victoria.
Nathan Cullen has been appointed Minister of Municipal Affairs (a position formerly held by Osborne). Osborne was the Mayor of Tofino before being elected provincially in 2020.
Today Premier John Horgan also named MLA Doug Routley as Parliamentary Secretary for Forests to support the important work of Minister Katrine Conroy to modernize forestry in BC.
Why the new LWRS ministry:
“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,” said Premier Horgan.
“Minister Josie Osborne’s experience and skill will help 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. He highlighted her academic background.
Horgan also noted Cullen’s excellent communication skills, including listening to input from impacted stakeholders and communities. “His ability to synthesize complex issues is almost unparalleled,” said Horgan about Cullen.
Municipal Affairs going forward:
As Minister of Municipal Affairs, Cullen will work with local governments to support their communities as they recover and rebuild stronger after COVID-19 and extreme weather.
Cullen will support municipalities to address their priorities, from building infrastructure to responding to challenges posed to businesses and neighbourhoods by homelessness.
Cullen is the former Minister of State for Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Big staff shifts:
The bulk of LWRS staff are shifting from two existing ministries: 718 staff are moving from Forests, Land and Natural Resources and 400 are moving from Environment and Climate change.
About 100 of the new ministry staff are newly hired, as within Budget 2022 that was announced earlier this week.
Another 39 people will be hired into the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation (JERI) to support new LWRS initaitives, while 40 will similarly be hired into the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.
The Environment and Climate Change Ministry ends up being reduced in size, but after seeing 400 staff moving to LWRS they will hire 49 new staff.
The emphasis for fisheries and oceans is shifting from within the former Agriculture, Food and Fisheries to the new LWRS ministry which includes Minister Responsible for Fisheries. This is good news in particular for Vancouver Island and the fishing interests in the region. Today Premier Horgan said he’s had Osborne in mind for this new position for a while.
The Ministry of Forests now stands alone, with its massive undertaking to modernize the forest industry. Year-round wildfire management is now within the Ministry of Forests; preparation and prevention of wildfires is key to managing that aspect of forest resource.
Some former responsibilities and programs of the former Forests, Land and Natural Resources ministry have been transferred to other ministries. In part, this will see certain key decisions made at what has been called “an appropriate levels” rather than at a permitting level.
Assuring attention to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and their integral involvement with land and oceans-related issues, is a part of the direction of the new LWRS ministry.
Long in the works:
This massive shift in how BC government policy will address the key changes in BC’s society and economy has been on Premier Horgan’s mind for many years, he said today, including before forming government in 2017.