FOSP note: The following letter appeared in the Nanaimo Daily News on Sep 26, Alberni Valley Times on Sep 29, and in the Discovery Islander on Oct 9, 2009.
The Wilderness Tourism Association(WTA) exists to protect and expand its tourism land base for the benefit of its members. Currently their members are hurting. They are losing money from the collapse of salmon stocks. They are fighting for tenure on forestry lands. They are getting hit with the HST, putting them at a disadvantage vis-a-vis Alberta and Washington. They’ve had their marketing at Tourism BC axed. They are up against big business and big government. What can they do and where can they go?
The answer is, of course, our parks. There is no one to stop them, and they have a friend in the Minister of Environment. I shouldn’t say no one, as there is the Strathcona Park PUBLIC Advisory Committee, a quasi-official body set up to represent the public interest. But so far they have been publicly silent. There are ministry employees who care about what’s happening, but their budgets are being cut and their employment is tenuous. There is the public of course, but even with 90% of those consulted opposed to amending the Strathcona Master Plan, their wishes are ignored.
The WTA sees the parks as their tourism land base. They represent a billion dollar industry. Do you really think a few horse trips will save them? No, I didn’t think so. I’m thinking they have visions of Banff, Lake Louise, and Whistler, places where tourists throng to get that ‘wilderness’ thrill. The WTA will be very inventive, and very persistent in developing tourism products in our parks. They have skilled marketers, politically astute directors, and a large budget. There is no one in their way.
Oh, I forgot, there is the Friends of Strathcona Park(FOSP). We have a history of fighting to preserve the park in its wilderness state. Help us increase our influence by becoming a member. Please visit http://www.friendsofstrathcona.org.
Bob St.John, member FOSP