FOSP note: the following letter appeared in the Comox Valley Echo and the Campbell River Courier Sep 4, 2009, and the Tofino Westerly on Sep 10, 2009.
For FOSP & All Concerned:
The government’s decision to allow a commercial horse operation in Strathcona Park is against overwhelming public input and should be reversed. The issue isn’t about horses any more than the 1988 Strathcona Blockade was about mining. The issue now is the same as it was back then. In 1988, 64 people were arrested before the government was forced (by a large show of public support) to protect our wilderness parks from commercialized encroachment.
Commercial operations, recreational vehicles, horses, etc all have value, just not in our wilderness parks such as Strathcona. I’m sadly aware that when they’re allowed into wilderness parks, the parks lose an irreplaceable part of their wildness.
The traffic into wilderness parks via “labour-saving” methods such as recreational vehicles or horses, unfortunately, prevents the experience of travelling under one’s own power. This is difficult to explain in an oratorical way as it’s an experiential event, however, it’s like trying to experience silence while listening to music – the experience attempted fails to be attained… it’s impossible to experience both at the same time. Wilderness parks were not created to experience the trappings of a commercialized culture. There’s no doubt that we should set aside regions for people to enjoy commercial recreation but, wilderness parks are not the place!
The Strathcona Park Master Plan states “minimal human impact” for very good reasons. Subsequently, when a government ignores the input of it’s administrative staff, the public, the Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee and alters the long-standing Strathcona Park Master Plan to allow a commercial horse venture in a remote wilderness area of the park, which just happens to be prime elk and fish habitat, it is not a surprise that the public feels betrayed.
If you care about Strathcona, along with other wilderness parks and disagree with this government’s decision, it’s time to let them know. I was at the Comox Valley information seminars, regarding this issue and my personal assessment, at all of these events, was that there was, seemingly, overwhelming public support to not allow this intrusion into the park and to leave the Master Plan intact.
William Wright / Courtenay