Few would disagree that the protection of the McAbee Fossil beds constitutes a public good.
But provincial back-patting, through a recent civil service award, is pure PR bumpf.
The B.C. government announced this week that a “Premier’s Award” has been given in the cross-government integration category following protection of the fossil beds, located about 10 kilometres east of Cache Creek.
The province announced protection of the fossil beds last year.
There is little doubt that civil servants worked earnestly to craft something that would cost the government little, but afford protection to fossils that were previously being dug up by school kids in some instances and profit-seeking fossil hunters in others.
The fossil beds have long been known. In the 1990s, a savvy prospector and a partner staked a claim on the beds and gained rights to the material — something no longer allowed under B.C. law.
The entrepreneurs opened up digging to tourists and school children, as well as mining it themselves. While there was supposed to be oversight by Thompson Rivers University, the reality is scientifically important fossils were at risk under a system of trust.
Government did nothing until the scientific community, including SFU researcher and thorn-in-the-side Bruce Archibald began a campaign to embarrass government into doing something to protect the site.
With backing from other scientists, the SFU researcher began a successful campaign, largely through newspaper stories critical of government inaction, to get protection for the location.
Yes, government deserves credit for doing something — finally. And no doubt civil servants worked creatively to find a way to do it at the smallest cost to taxpayers.
But the reality is that it came after years of inaction and a failed memorandum of understanding.
You won’t see that from the government’s taxpayer-funded PR machine.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.