FOSP note: the following letter appeared in the Comox Valley Record on Sep 15, 2009.
I write on behalf of the members of Comox District Mountaineering Club (CDMC) to express our profound disappointment in the recent decision to amend the Strathcona Park Master Plan to allow expanded horse use along old roadbeds/corridors throughout the park.
It was apparent from the responses from people who attended the public meetings and wrote letters that there was overwhelming support for the 1993 Strathcona Park Master Plan and the 2001 Master Plan Amendment, and staunch opposition to expanded horse use within Strathcona Park. And the Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee (SPPAC), whose members are appointed by BC Parks, also recommended against amending the master plan.
So, we do not understand why Environment Minister Barry Penner chose to ignore public opinion and the advice of SPPAC and opted instead for amending the master plan. We would be interested in learning his reasons for believing that expanded horse use will benefit Strathcona Park.
It is our opinion that his decision does not confer upon the general public any real opportunities for horse riding in Strathcona Park. The old roadbeds/corridors within Strathcona Park that will be designated for horse use are mostly inaccessible and/or washed out, overgrown, blocked by fallen trees.
We wonder who will be responsible for rehabilitating these old roadbeds so that equestrians can safely use them. Or have these corridors only been identified to mask the real reason for amending the master plan?
It appears to us that the only beneficiaries of the decision will be corporate entities like the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort which, in return for a lengthy period of tenure, will undertake to carry out rehabilitation of the roadbed/corridor in order to conduct their clients on guided horseback tours into Strathcona Park.
We feel that BC Parks, from the outset, has not acted in good faith over this issue, and has manipulated the public consultation process in order to obtain a desired outcome. The entire process has been an elaborate charade, and a shameful waste of BC Parks’ woefully inadequate financial resources.
Strathcona Park, like all other provincial parks, is a public asset; it belongs to the people and future generations. It is not acceptable that the current government, which is not the owner of this asset but merely a temporary caretaker, should embark on a new direction in parks management and permit corporate exploitation within Strathcona Park.