Over 60 enthusiastic supporters of the Heathens showed at the Campbell River Court House on the morning of April 18, 2017.
Here is a short video of the gathering.
The protest got good coverage in the Campbell River Mirror.
This just in Wed am, Apr 19 from Paul Rydeen of the Heathens:
@ 65 supporters rallied behind Chris, Thom and Cassidy yesterday in a peaceful, inspiring protest. The weather was on our side as well!
2 hours of court time was not not enough to resolve this dispute and a yet to be determined day was deemed necessary.
What a waste of taxpayer money – trying to punish long standing volunteers who dispute a trail work proposal. How much will this cost us at the end of the day? Needless to say, this is the most energy and money BC Parks has spent on Crest Creek-all 35 years combined!
New Documents just in:
- David Baar correspondence with BC Parks (read from bottom-up)
- Chris Barner’s response to David Baar re: BC Parks
- SPPAC Sep 29, 2016 meeting minutes
- Chris Barner’s response to SPPAC minutes
- Chris Barner’s correspondence with Kristine Heaney
To Whom It May Concern,
Thank you for taking an interest in this issue. Please find enclosed several documents relevant to the Heathens dispute with BC Parks over volunteer agreements at Crest Creek. They include:
- A copy of the project termination letter sent to the club in January 2016.
- A copy of the Heathens response to the Ministry’s most recent proposal. It was prepared in October of 2015.
- The Ministry’s most recent proposal, which was prepared by Don Cadden between February 2015 and August 2015. It includes:
- A copy of the Club’s response to BC Parks previous proposals submitted in February 2015.
- A copy of ‘Refurbishing Old Crest Creek’, a proposed 10 year work plan for the area submitted by the Heathens in July 2014 and February 2015.
- Copies of both the ‘original’ and ‘altered’ SPPAC (Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee) meeting minutes from April 2014.
- A copy of John Put’s (The Heathens) agreement proposal to the Ministry submitted to Parks in 2005.
- E-mails between John Put and BC Parks dated December 7, 2004.
- A copy of the original volunteer agreement dated May 1995.
Together, these documents provide references to events that occurred during the Club’s relationship with the Ministry beginning in the early nineties…
- In the early nineties, in response to the ‘Larkin Report – Restoring the Balance,’ BC Parks encouraged active volunteering, including initiating the ‘Adopt-A-Trail’ program with the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC.
- By 1994, the Heathens are working with the Ministry to adopt the Kings Peak Trail and the trail network at Crest Creek under the program.
- In 1995, the Club signs agreements to adopt both projects. A copy of the Crest Creek agreement is included which refers to a 3 month work plan for the initial 3 months, and describes the project as “ongoing”. The Ministry never met a single commitment they made to the club under the agreement.
- However, by 1997 the Ministry’s interest in the new agreements, and the Crest Creek Steering Committee, is already waning.
- At some point between 1995 and 2001 the Ministry unilaterally cancels the agreement (and insurance!) without consulting or even informing the club! Club volunteers continue to work for a decade and a half unaware that they are uninsured!
- Yet in 1999 Heathens fund-raising letters that refer to long-term adoption agreements’ are signed by Parks officials. And in 2004, when the club was awarded several thousand dollars in grants for improvements at Crest Creek, Parks officials suddenly recalled the pact. This is illustrated by the e-mails of 2004, which clearly record Parks officials referring to “…our long term agreement with the Heathens…”.
- In 2005, Parks ignores the Club’s (John Put’s) proposal for a new volunteer agreement and essentially abandons the Heathens to fend for themselves at Crest Creek. John’s proposal is included for comparison to BC Parks 2015 proposal.
- In 2010, the Club pens a discussion paper based on their experiences at Crest Creek in an effort to restore funding to the Parks Branch. The paper is available on the net, and is titled, “The Rise and Fall of the Crest Creek Steering Committee”. It is useful background reading.
- Then suddenly in 2013, the Ministry reappeared with a new policy around volunteer agreements and a “my way or the highway” attitude. The agreement proposal was badly flawed, had little in common with the previous agreement and was completely counter to the “Amended Master Plan for Strathcona Park”.
- In December 2013 the Club prepared a response that stated the proposal was impractical and nonconforming, and sought to negotiate something more effective with BC Parks.
- Early in 2014, Parks informed the Club that no volunteer activity at Crest Creek was permitted without a new agreement in place.
- At the April 2014 SPPAC meeting at Rathtrevor Beach, the Club informed the Ministry that it had several outstanding grievances from the original 1995 pact that would need to be addressed before a new agreement could be signed, and that if the Club were forced into a new agreement they would prefer to abandon their investment at Crest Creek rather than continue in partnership with the Ministry.
- Between April and June of 2014, the Ministry alters the official minutes of the April SPPAC meeting in a manner that discredits the Club, even omitting an entire sentence which referred to the insurance coverage issue, before publishing them on the SPPAC website! We have included a copy of both the ‘original’ version (which we obtained from the stenographer) and the ‘altered’ version (which we downloaded from the SPPAC website in June). Compare!
- In July 2014 a meeting is called where the Ministry tries to bribe the Club with promises of an info-shelter, permission to place directional signage and the okay to resume maintenance work, as well as reassurances that the proposal can be ‘modified’ to the Club’s satisfaction.
- But by December 2014, 6 months later, the Ministry has failed to address the Club’s concerns so the Club reiterates that it would rather quit than get re-involved with Parks.
- In February of 2015 the Heathens submitted a summary of grievances and requirements that would have to be addressed. The summary is included for reference; it should shed light on the nature of the Ministry’s proposals to date.
- Also in February: After yet another meeting, called by Phil Stone on behalf of the Ministry in a last ditch effort to reach some agreement that ends in further frustration, Parks employees refer the file to Don Cadden.
- In August of 2015 the Ministry finally produces a ‘modified’ agreement, however instead of streamlining the proposal, the Ministry adds penalties, such as new routing restrictions, ordering an end to route maintenance (scrubbing, inspection, etc.), and withholding permission for the Club’s annual ‘Summer Camp’ (held without an agreement at Crest Creek since 1993!) by falsely characterizing it as a ‘Volunteer Work Camp’. None of the Club’s concerns are addressed by the new proposal and additional unnecessary paperwork is piled on! Don Cadden’s cover letter and components of the proposal are included to verify the above, and to provide background to the Club’s response to follow.
- During October to January 2015-16, the Club responded to the most recent proposal. By this time it has become clear the Ministry was not interested in bilaterally cooperating on a new agreement or appointing a neutral arbitrator as the Club had requested. The response does a fair job of highlighting the absurd nature of the proposal.
- In January 2016, just as the Club finished preparing the above response, the Ministry ‘dismisses’ dedicated, thirty year volunteers without considering their concerns while usurping their million-dollar contribution to the Park! The letter is included in the file to illustrate the Ministry’s impatience. (Note that the Club waited longer for the proposal than the Ministry waited for the response!)
I encourage you to call me at 250-287-4611 if you require clarification or if you wish to peruse the actual documents or the background information. We believe it is important that the story of how BC Parks recruited and coerced, then ignored, endangered and abandoned a group of well-meaning volunteers only to reappear later to bully, defame, bribe, deceive and harass them, is told. Is this the way to treat good citizens who answered the call by creating a facility that provides millions to local economies at no cost to the taxpayer?
- Why are Parks permitted to default on agreements made with volunteers?
- Why can Parks unilaterally terminate agreements and insurance without notifying volunteers? If the Club had known that BC Parks intended on cancelling the agreement they would have bailed before they spent all that money!
- Why does BC Parks deceive volunteers and the public regarding the true nature of agreements?
- Why does BC parks ignore agreement proposals from volunteers?
- Why does BC parks ignore the concerns and grievances of volunteers?
- Why does BC Parks add punitive conditions to proposals when volunteers simply wish to stop providing services to BC Parks at their own cost?
- Why does BC Parks discredit and defame dedicated volunteers?
- Why is access to new routing restricted at Crest Creek but not at Stawamus Chief, Murrin, or other Provincial Parks?
- Why did BC Parks misrepresent itself to the Club during their grant applications?
- Why is there no mechanism for dispute resolution in BC Parks volunteer agreement proposals? Why won’t BC Parks provide a neutral arbitrator as requested?
Would you get closely involved with an organization like this? We look forward to hearing your comments! If you are as disappointed in the actions of our Parks Branch as we are please notify them about how you feel.
For a review of the Crest Crags please read this Adventurous Magazine article “Heathen’s Zen Garden” by Andrew Findlay