The Friends of Strathcona Park (FOSP) is an organization which was formed in the 1980’s, largely through the efforts of Steve and Marlene Smith who now live in the Comox Valley. Strathcona Park, the first provincial park in BC, was created in 1911, and has suffered abuse, in the form of logging, mining, etc., from commercial interests almost from the very beginning. The FOSP was created to oppose the abuses, which have historically been sanctioned and facilitated by various provincial governments since the park’s inception.
It seems a fact of life that most government decision makers are strongly money oriented, so its not so surprising that the park has suffered so badly under the “care” of many governments through the years. FOSP was created by people who value the park for reasons other than money, and when, in 1987, the provincial government created an industrial zone in the center of the park, and dumped several areas of the park entirely, a blockade was organized by FOSP, resulting in a huge public and media outcry, and the arrests of 64 park supporters. The massive public response forced the government to back down, and they removed the industrial zone and replaced the Bedwell Valley, which had been unceremoniously dumped from the park. FOSP was also able to initiate the formation of a Master Plan for Strathcona Park, a Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee, (SPPAC), so that the public would have some say. They also were able to stipulate a public review process for any major changes in the Master Plan.
Unfortunately, money is a powerful force, and it doesn’t rest. In the 20 years or so since the blockade, there have been several attempts by various interests to turn a piece of the park into cash, and until now we have successfully fought them off. But a recent government decision (August 2009) has allowed a wealthy resort owner to run a commercial horse operation within the Bedwell Valley area of Strathcona Park.
We hope we can persuade the government to reverse this decision, which we believe represents a major policy shift for parks, and goes against the Strathcona Park Master Plan, the recommendations of SPPAC, and the majority of public opinion. The purpose of a park is not to serve commercial interests, and we don’t think that it’s right for a park master plan to be changed to cater to the whims of one wealthy individual, which is what we believe has happened here. We believe this is the thin edge of the wedge, not just for Strathcona Park, but probably also for other parks in BC.
We intend to use every means at our disposal to see this decision reversed.
If you wish you become a member of the Friends of Strathcona Park, or help in any way, (money, your time, whatever) please contact us as soon as possible, because we believe time is almost certainly crucial. We will welcome help from anyone of any age, but young people may be especially valuable, so please let us hear from you.