Response from Ministry on Volunteers Working in BC Parks

Posted on Posted in Volunteers in BC Parks

Below is a response from  BC Minister of the Environment Terry Lake to ORC’s letter dated June 27th on the subject of re-introducing a program for volunteers to work in BC Parks.  A link to the volunteer agreement discussed in the letter can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.  As per Jeremy’s email to us on August 18th, 2011, he plans to respond to the Minister to thank him for his commitment to  investigate whether the liability insurance scheme used for volunteers with the Recreation Sites & Trails Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations (known as the FRIP program) could be extended for use with volunteers in BC Parks.  In his response, Jeremy will also be querying some of the wording used in the Individual Volunteer Agreement such as naming the applicable Ministry, describing the Bureau and summarizing the type of insurance the Volunteer would be agreeing to.

Reference:  140481

August 17, 2011

Jeremy McCall, Executive Director and Robert Gunn, Chair

Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia

Email:  outdoorrec@orcbc.ca

Dear Mr. McCall and Mr. Gunn:

Thank you for your email of May 4, 2011, and follow-up email of June 27, 2011, also signed by Robert Gunn, Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia, regarding volunteers in BC Parks. I apologize for the delay in responding.

I regret the frustration you have experienced seeking clarification on the ability of non-governmental organization (NGO) volunteers to contribute to trail maintenance in BC Parks. This topic is very important to BC Parks, and I can confirm that the development of a volunteer strategy is a priority on the agency’s work plan for 2011/12. I have asked Ms. Lori Halls, Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), BC Parks and Conservation Officer Service Division, to meet with you to get your input on the development of the volunteer strategy.

In the meantime, as requested in your letter, I am attaching a copy of the current volunteer agreement used by the Ministry of Environment for individual volunteers. It can be obtained from BC Parks regional staff who would develop the project and supervise the volunteers.

BC Parks staff have considered the information provided to you by Ms. Tessa Graham, former acting ADM responsible for BC Parks, in her March 2011 letter pertaining to staff authorized to sign volunteer agreements and we have determined that the Ministry representative should be the direct supervisor of the staff member coordinating the project (for example, if a Park Ranger is leading the project, the appropriate area supervisor is able to sign the volunteer agreement).

With respect to liability insurance, the provincial Volunteer Insurance Program applies only to individuals who volunteer directly to the Province; however, as you mention, the Recreation Sites and Trails Branch does have a special program to offer third-party liability insurance to their agreement holders. BC Parks will review this program with the Government of British Columbia’s Risk Management Branch to see if it can be extended to park lands.

I trust that this information addresses the questions posed in your letter. I appreciate the continued commitment of the Outdoor Recreation Council to British Columbia’s protected areas system and look forward to a continued working relationship.

Thank you again for writing and sharing your concerns on this matter.

Sincerely,

Original Signed By

Terry Lake

Minister of Environment

Attachment

cc:       Lori Halls, ADM, BC Parks and Conservation Officer Service Division, Ministry of Environment

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