FOSP note: The following letter appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist on Aug 21, the Comox Valley Record and the Campbell River Mirror August 25, 2009. Bob St.John is a member of the FOSP.
The Minister of Environment’s recent decision to allow horses into Strathcona Park goes against public opinion as demonstrated at the public consultations he referred to. It also goes against the wording and the spirit of the park’s master plan. Indeed many in his own department are opposed to the direction of his decision as outlined in Freedom Of Information documents.
The minister’s use of absolute area (as a percentage of the total park) to imply minimal impact of his decision is rubbish. That lame statistic can be used for any purpose. Consider that a 4-lane freeway would take up only a small percentage of the park area-wise, and could thus be justified as well. This weasel reasoning forms a poor basis for decision making, and unfortunately reflects a disturbing trend in our government. It appears that public opinion, advice from committees, advice from department staff, community plans, and civic governance means very little.
I would suggest that privatization of services and resources in the parks is the goal of this government and is the real basis for this decision. This government has broken public trust in park stewardship through cuts to staff, services, and upkeep. The public trust is being replaced by a private trust that developers are nursing to gain privileged access to our parks. Their appetite for development is insatiable, and the minister’s actions will be responsible for the damage that is and will be done. Shame on him.