(FOSP Note: The following article by Cedric Zala of the Alpine Club of Canada (Vancouver Island) appeared in the May ACCVI newsletter.)
The threat of motorized off-road vehicle (MORV) enthusiasts operating in Capital Regional District Parks diminished considerably on April 21, 2010 when the CRD Parks Committee voted unanimously to continue the ban on this destructive and disruptive pastime. The MORV threat became apparent in March, when the CRD Parks Committee at their March meeting indicated that the ban on Motorized Off-Road Vehicles (MORV) in Regional Parks might be rescinded. In response, the ACCVI coordinated a concerted effort leading to the formation and mobilization of the “Preserve Our Parks” alliance (POP). Members of the alliance included:
• Club Tread,
• The Land Conservancy,
• The Wednesday Wonderers,
• The Thursday Thrashers,
• The Eccentrics,
• The Vancouver Island Spine Trail Association,
• The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC,
• The Victoria Hiking Meet-up Group, and
• The Native Plant Study Group.
Overall these organizations represent more than 11,000 members, most of who live in the CRD region. (Several other groups are also interested in joining.)
During a frenetic four week period in March and April 2010, members of the POP alliance contacted CRD representatives and officials and lobbied them to maintain the ban on ATVs. They also wrote letters to local papers and encouraged their members to prepare presentations for the April 21 CRD Regional Parks Committee meeting. Their efforts received an additional boost when former Federal Environment Minister David Anderson agreed to act as spokesman for the group.
The outcome of all this effort was an amazing tour de force at the CRD Parks Committee meeting. Overall, 25 people signed up to present their point of view on this topic. Out of this number, only two advocated opening Harbourview Road to allow MORVs to access several lakes to the North.
“The committee heard dozens of impassioned pleas from people adamantly opposed to allowing motorized vehicles. Machines and their operators (who) would destroy everything from the peace and quiet to drinking water, ripping up trails and endangering hikers, said speakers representing hiking and outdoors groups” (Victoria Times Colonist, April 21, 2010)
The Committee members then dealt with Agenda Item 5: Ayum Creek, Kapoor, Sea to Sea, Sooke Potholes Regional Parks Management Plan Update. Several committee members spoke on the topic, all reinforcing their support of maintaining the ban. The committee then voted unanimously to maintain the ban.
Adding our voice on this issue to that of our member organizations proved effective, and founding members of POP realized that there are many other areas where an Alliance such as ours could assist in ensuring a bright future for our Regional Parks.