From our Executive Director, Barry Janyk:
It was great I was able to attend a meeting organised by NDP Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser to try and find solutions to backcountry access restrictions that have been increasing on Vancouver Island. MLA Fraser addressed the group to help define the issues and seek support for improving public access across private forest lands. About 80 folks representing all aspects of backcountry enthusiasm showed up on a sunny Saturday. I think that speaks volumes about the interest in this issue.
As Judy Carlson, Chair of the AVOC advises, “there’s some resentment and bitterness here… because for at least 30 years these valleys and roads have been a shared use area, with maps provided by the company, and people able to camp overnight and drive in and out any day of the week. People have always thought of it as their backyard, and over the last few years there has been an increasing demand for opportunities for back-country recreation.” Along with gates on roads came security personnel, restriction of hours, and people locked behind gates.
Folks at my table—at least—were taking about creating a “Wilderness Watch” which, with our smartphones/cameras, can help document offenders who ruin it for all.
Scott and his staff are planning to group and organize the dozens of ideas we collectively drafted and will be presenting them to his caucus and the legislature within a month. He is also continuing the important dialogue with the forest companies. When it gets passed on to Doug Donaldson, Minister of FLNRORD and Environment Minister George Heyman, that will be real progress.
To learn more about the meeting, read this informative article from the Alberni Valley News.
I want to thank the Board for the opportunity to attend this important consultation. I believe it helped advance our own cause: the Right to Roam.