The Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee (SPPAC) does not want to see a park use permit granted to Clayoquot Wilderness Resort (CWR). The resort, which operates a high-end “dude” ranch on the west coast of Vancouver Island, has applied for a permit to extend their commercial operations into the park. SPPAC met in Parksville on November 19, and discussed the permit application after receiving a delegation from the Friends of Strathcona Park (FOSP).
CWR is located at the head of Bedwell Inlet, close to the boundary of Strathcona Park. The resort, which charges its clients around $1500 a day, is backed with money from Richard Genovese and/or the Genovese Family Trust according to the resort’s website. The permit, if granted, could be for 30 years. It would allow the resort to run a high-impact commercial horse operation into the park.
The FOSP delegation addressed SPPAC to explain why they believed the CWR operation would be detrimental to the park, and outlined what they thought was a better option.
As part of the Friends submission to SPPAC, FOSP director Bob St. John presented a slide show and maps, showing how FOSP volunteers are building a hiking trail in the Bedwell Valley.
In conversation later, he said, “We expect to finish the trail next year, all the way to Bedwell Lake, which will make it possible for people to hike to the west coast. It’s a very scenic trail, it will enhance park values, and it won’t cost the public a penny.”
He added that one of the main reasons for building the trail is to show that a low-disturbance hiking trail will suit the Bedwell Valley much better than the proposed high-impact CWR horse trail, which would detract from the wilderness experience of other park users, and would benefit only the resort and its clients.
St. John also said, “We know that as soon as CWR gets in, the process won’t stop. Other commercial outfits will naturally want the same privileges as CWR. Is that what we want for Strathcona? I don’t. I was in business for years, but when I go to the park I want to see wilderness, not a bunch of high-disturbance commercial enterprises. I know I’m not alone. I think most people understand that those types of activities belong outside the park, not inside.”
Courtenay lawyer Jennifer Pass, also a member of the FOSP delegation, outlined possible legal options for stopping the permit.
Karl Stevenson, a third FOSP member, commented, “This sort of thing is exactly why the Campbell Liberals are now in so much trouble. The public has repeatedly said they don’t want this, and the government is still trying to ram it down our throats.”
The committee plans to meet with Don Cadden, Regional Manager for BC Parks, to reaffirm their unanimous opposition to changes to the Park Master Plan and the granting of the park use permit, and to ensure the new minister responsible for Parks, Murray Coell is aware of their concerns.
for more information contact: Bob St. John at 250 890 0780, email email@example.com
or Kel Kelly at 250 337 8348, email firstname.lastname@example.org