Posted by: friendsofstrathcona | September 16, 2009

Commercial interests buy park favours (John Milne)

FOSP note: this letter was published in the Alberni Valley Times and the Tofino Westerly on Sep 17, the Nanaimo Daily News on Sep 18, and in Island Tides on Sep 24, 2009.

Dear sir or madam

In the last while a new Visitors’ Center and connector trail have been completed in the Paradise Meadows area of Strathcona Provincial Park. Almost none of the funding for these projects came from BC Parks, instead it came from private and corporate donations, matching grants and lottery money with countless hours of meetings and volunteer work over years by Parks’ staff and stakeholders. I believe the success of this creative funding proposal has indirectly led to the subsequent approval of a Master Plan Amendment. Let me explain.

About 5 years ago Clayoquot Wilderness Resort proposed they be allowed to bring horses into the Bedwell Valley in return for upgrading the trail there and building a campsite. A strong case was made for this not being allowed by the Parks’ Master Plan except in three specific areas where it has always been allowed, so an unclear, muddled public process was conducted which resulted in about 90% of the public emphatically stating they did not want more horses in Strathcona Park.

BC Parks could not be seen to allow an exclusive use of the Bedwell Valley by one resort owner. This area is very isolated, and impractical for any member of the public to take a horse to, so what was done was to open any area of the Park to horse use where there used to be an old road subject to some criteria yet to be explained. This opens new areas of the Park for horse use contrary to public opinion, which will benefit private commercial interests which have the funds to do a favour for Parks in return for being allowed to operate in the Park. This is a further example of the privatization of our public assets to benefit friends of the government.

Yours truly

John Milne, director Friends of Strathcona Park.

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