30 August 2010
Minister of Environment
Province of British Columbia
A. The Larkin Report “Strathcona Park: Restoring the Balance” 1988
B. Strathcona Park Master Plan 1993
C. Strathcona Park Master Plan Amendment 2001
D. Strathcona Park Master Plan Amendment 2010
E. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort Park Use Permit Application 17 July 2006
I am writing to express my disappointment in your recent action of making ill-advised changes to the Strathcona Park Master Plan in the 2010 amendment.
Your action is undermining more than 20 years of hard work that has gone a long way in restoring public confidence and goodwill in our Parks system and our government since the last time there was an attempt to destroy Strathcona Park.
Many people came out to the meetings and correctly stated that horse use is not an appropriate activity in the sensitive coastal mountains and valleys of Strathcona Park. What happened to the spirit captured in the opening notes of the Larkin Report? As follows (Reference A – forward):
“The message that needs to be heard, loud and clear, on matters concerning Strathcona Park and other Parks is simply this: Listen to what the public has to say.”
The process of consulting the public has been inconsistent with the reasoning of the Larkin Report.
In reading the 2010 amendment it becomes immediately clear that its whole purpose is to allow horse use in the Bedwell Valley. Why was the Bedwell Valley included as an area appropriate for horse use? There is no benefit to the public in this decision. There is only one potential horse-riding group in the Bedwell Valley and that is a commercial venture, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, owned by a Canadian financier who lives in the tax haven of Monaco. Where is the credibility in that amendment? In the absence of other information I can only harbour the suspicion that a violation of public trust has taken place. I hope you understand how serious a matter this is.
Your position that the previous Park Master Plan was not clear about horse use is disingenuous. The Larkin Report clearly recommends (Reference A – 5.3 sub-para 6):
“That in the development of the master plan, the technique of zoning should be applied to maximize wilderness values, to permit (sic) horse access in limited peripheral areas of the park,”
The original Master Plan only had areas designated for horse use on the peripheral of the Park. The Bedwell Valley is not in a peripheral area of the Park.
Please rescind the 2010 amendment. If you do not, an independent review, in the same spirit as the Larkin Report, of this change to the Strathcona Park Master Plan would be appropriate. Until the matter is resolved any commercial permit applications to allow horse use in Strathcona Park and particularly in the Bedwell Valley should be stayed in the unlikely event that the recent amendment is validated.
Further, to help restore public goodwill, I would suggest following through on at least one of the other recommendations made in the Larkin Report and add the Ursus Valley and Bulson Creek Valley, both of which are being considered for logging, and lands surrounding Bedwell Sound to the Park.
Strathcona Park is the last large wilderness area on Vancouver Island. As such, it is a highly valued recreation resource for Vancouver Island communities. Resource extraction should be limited to public recreation activities such as hiking, mountaineering, and cross-country skiing. Please restore the integrity of the original Park Master Plan.
Please stop wrecking our Park.
Ken Van de Burgt
453 Murray Place
Campbell River BC
250 923 1142