News

Kootenay environmental groups oppose changes to BC Parks

A proposed amendment to the BC Park Act has several regional environmental groups in opposition.

Bill 4 has passed its second reading in the provincial legislature, but many environmentalists are hoping that is as far as it will go.

"Thousands of letters protesting this Bill have poured into government offices," said Anne Sherrod, a director of Valhalla Wilderness Watch, a group based in the Kootenays. "The Liberals ignored those letters and refused to allow time for further consultation. This bill was only tabled on Feb. 13, which shows how much it is being fast-tracked to prevent the public from making an effective defence of our parks."

When the bill was originally introduced, the government said it would provide clear and consistent direction around authorizing outdoor recreation, tourism, commercial filming and research activities in BC Parks.

The bill will affect all provincial parks, including several in Golden's surrounding area, such as the Bugaboo Provincial Park.

The bill introduces amendments to the BC Park Act that will ensure commercial filming activities are properly authorized, remove size provisions to ensure all Class A parks are managed to the same standard regardless of size, and allow permits for research and information gathering.

Wildsight worries that these changes are being implemented to allow for "exploratory drilling, ore sampling and road building" within the parks, threatening both wildlife and recreation.

"Our parks, including the Purcell Wilderness conservancy, Height of the Rockies, St. Mary's Alpine Park… and provincial parks across B.C. were created to strike a balance on the landscape, to assure future generations have the opportunity to experience the wildlife and wilderness that makes British Columbia unique in the world," said John Bergenske, executive director of Wildsight.

"These proposed changes threaten the integrity of our park system and the wild places that British Columbians cherish."

Minister of the Environment May Polak insists that these concerns are unfounded.

"To be absolutely clear, these proposed amendments do not allow, promote or otherwise enable industrial projects in parks and protected area. Recent suggestions that future mining or forestry or other industrial operations will be allowed in parks are simply not true," said Polak.

The proposed amendments are being put in place to allow for studies. Currently issuing research permits is not permitted, meaning there is no way to take soil samples for archaeological assessments, or collect animal or plant specimens.

"Research can be purely for academic purposes, or as part of an environmental assessment," said Polak.

The Bill was debated in the legislature in early March, with the NDP in opposition, and passed its second reading.

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Teacher strike cheques in the mail
 
Sinixt woman resigns over Slocan Pool burial
 
Forest faces off with toad populations in Summit Lake
Fight against pipeline not over says protest organizer
 
‘Street lawyers’ greet Nelson police at party
 
Cities target gaps in care for mentally ill
Purple hats for purple crying
 
Destroyed by fire
 
(VIDEO) Hundreds pay respects to former finance minister Jim Flaherty

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 30 edition online now. Browse the archives.