FOSP note: the following letter appeared in the Tofino Westerly News on Sep 17, 2009 and the Campbell River Courier on Sep 25, 2009. Karl Stevenson is a member of the Friends of Strathcona
The current controversy over horse use,(or commercial horse use) in Strathcona Park is nothing new, and it doesn’t really have much to do with horses, although that’s how it’s being portrayed. It’s really about ideologies,or philosophies,or points of view, as to how we define a park. In the case of Strathcona, it’s about how we define a wilderness park.
If the people of B.C. want the government to define Strathcona Park as a place to make money and practice high-impact activities, then that’s what Strathcona will become. Perhaps that’s what people want, and if that’s the case,we need only to just sit back and let it happen. And it’ll be nothing new, because it’s happened many times before, under previous governments.
Unfortunately for me,I can’t sit back, because that’s not how I see Strathcona Park. I don’t believe we created the park because we needed a place to practice our high-impact and commercial activities. In fact, for me it’s just the opposite. I go to the park to get away from these activities,to experience what it’s like to be away from as many of our intrusive pursuits as possible.
Unfortunately for me, this happens to be the way I define for myself the value of a wilderness park. I say unfortunately, because governments often have a different definition, and governments are extremely hard to fight, especially when they are allied with commercial and industrial concerns.
In 2011, Strathcona Park will be 100 years old. It was the first provincial park in B.C., and as “the flagship of the B.C. parks system” it bears the scars of many hurtful and costly encounters with government and industry.
The current controversy might look like it’s about horses, but it’s not the main issue. It’s about how we define a wilderness park. To me, and to the majority of people who were asked (about 90 per cent) and to the original Strathcona Park Master Plan (which has worked very well for years, and was the product of much dedicated labour and the input of a great many people) it’s about minimizing human impact as much as we possibly can.
Let’s not allow the master plan to be pushed aside so one wealthy person can have his own way in our park.
Karl Stevenson, Comox