Strathcona Friends preparing to defend park against enemies

Dear editor,

The Friends of Strathcona Park have hired a Vancouver law firm to prepare a legal challenge against government efforts to give commercial rights in Strathcona Park to a private resort on the edge of the park.

THE BEDWELL VALLEY is dear to the Friends of Strathcona park

THE BEDWELL VALLEY is dear to the Friends of Strathcona park

Dear editor,

The Friends of Strathcona Park have hired a Vancouver law firm to prepare a legal challenge against  government efforts to give commercial rights in Strathcona Park to a private resort on the edge of the park.

The resort operates a dude ranch for the wealthy on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The government has approved the permit, but has yet to sign it.

The process of granting a park use permit to the resort  was begun by the Campbell government against the guidelines of the Strathcona Park Master Plan, against the recommendations of the Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee, and against the stated wishes of an overwhelming majority (around 90 per cent) of citizens who attended public consultation meetings.

Our lawyers believe there are serious legal flaws in the government process that has put Strathcona under threat of damage by a high-impact commercial operation. Legal proceedings will begin against the government if and when it signs the permit allowing the resort into the park.

On other fronts, the Friends of Strathcona have been working to build a trail in the area under threat, (the Bedwell Valley) hoping that a low-impact trail will stave off the apparent wish of government to grant  privileges in the park to a private operation that has dreams of building a high-impact commercial trail for wealthy clients in the Bedwell Valley.

For the past three years, the Friends of Strathcona have been working with volunteers to build the Bedwell Centennial Trail, a beautiful low-impact trail, which won’t cost the public a penny. The route follows the Bedwell River from source to mouth, and will allow hikers to walk from the east side of Vancouver Island to the west coast near Tofino.

The Friends intended to complete the trail for Strathcona’s 100th birthday this year, but the government wouldn’t give permission to brush out one last very short section in the middle, and won’t allow us to say the trail has been completed.

We had the volunteers, the tools, and we could have easily completed the trail, but we weren’t permitted to close the final gap.

Why? For some reason, the government doesn’t want our low-impact, no-cost volunteer trail completed.

Meanwhile they’re poised to sign a park use permit allowing a damaging commercial operation to use the Bedwell Valley, almost into the centre of Strathcona Park, for its own private purposes.

The Campbell government bulldozed public wishes in many ways and they were very good at it, but the HST debacle was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. Exit Gordon Campbell.

Unfortunately, we’re left with many of his legacies, one of them being the damage about to occur in Strathcona Park if the Christy Clark government signs the park use permit.

Parks are not commercial enterprises, and their purpose isn’t to serve the economic wishes of private interests. Although it’s true that Strathcona has suffered terribly from commercial damage in the past 100 years, we don’t need to allow the process to go on for the next 100.

Thanks very much to the volunteers who worked very hard this year, and for the preceding two years, on the Bedwell Centennial Trail with hopes of stopping the government from allowing commercial damage in the Bedwell Valley. The trail is now almost complete, and it’s well marked and easy to follow for its entire length, all the way from Bedwell Lake to Bedwell Inlet.

Thanks very much also to all those who contributed to the very successful Strathcona Wilderness Festival, and to all those who attended and showed their support for Strathcona, B.C.’s oldest provincial park.

Karl Stevenson,

Royston

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