FOSP note: The following letter was printed in the Comox Valley Record and the Campbell River Mirror on Sept. 3, 2009, in the Comox Valley Echo Sep 4, 2009, and the Victoria Times Colonist on Sep 6, 2009.
I believe that the recent government decision to open up Strathcona Park to commercial horse use represents a callous and cynical disregard for the Strathcona Park Master Plan, and the efforts of the dedicated people who worked so very hard to create it. The original Master Plan,the product of much careful thought and massive public input,was several years in the making, and has worked well with little change since it was first put into place in the early 1990s.
A few years ago, however, a wealthy resort owner decided he wanted to run a commercial horse operation in the Bedwell Valley area of the park, and things began to change. The Master Plan, which had seemed clear up to that point, suddenly became “unclear”, and needed to be amended to achieve “clarity” on the subject of horse use in the park. Of course, this sudden lack of “clarity”,and the sudden need to change the Master Plan, had nothing to do with the wishes of the resort owner at the mouth of the Bedwell River.
In any case, despite the recorded opinions of at least four park administrators who believed that the Master Plan didn’t allow horse use in the Bedwell, and the unanimous opposition of the Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee, and against the voices of the facilitators of the original Master Plan, the government initiated a public review process to achieve the “clarity” they so urgently desired. The public review process, though hasty, and poorly planned and advertised, resulted in yet another resounding “NO” from the public to expanded horse use, and especially commercial horse use, in Strathcona Park.
Well, we now have the government decision, and they, unfortunately, have the “clarity they desire. I think most people know that wilderness parks exist for other purposes than to serve commercial interests. Personally, I feel sick to think that the Strathcona Park Master Plan has been radically changed to cater to the whims of one wealthy individual. Such a sad waste of the years of effort of all those dedicated people who worked so hard to create a sound Master Plan, which has functioned so admirably for so long.
This battle isn’t over. If you wish to reverse this decision, and help save Strathcona Park from this latest attack by moneyed interests,phone Friends of Strathcona at 250 337 1871.
Karl Stevenson, director, Friends of Strathcona