After more than a year and a half of consultations, drafts, reviews and deliberations, BC Parks has approved its Ski Resort Policy for Cypress, Seymour and Manning Parks – the three resorts in BC located within the provincial parks system. Development of the Ski Resort Policy was undertaken to provide guidance on aspects of ski resort and permit management not addressed through other policies or legislation. It provides direction for the management and administration of park use permits which authorize ski resort activities within these parks.
A number of the FMCBC’s southwest BC clubs participated in stakeholder meetings and workshops, and many members spent hours corresponding with ski resort operators and parks agency personnel discussing earlier drafts of the policy. In July 2014, the Southwest BC Recreation and Conservation Committee reviewed the Intentions Paper and submitted their concerns. A summary of public comments on the Intentions Paper is available here. Last April, the FMCBC sent in a letter reiterating and adding to those concerns.
Unfortunately, it seems that many of these concerns have fallen on deaf ears. The FMCBC received a letter from Tom Bell, Director of Regional Program Support for the Ministry of Environment earlier this month along with a copy of the newly enacted policy. The proposed 60 year lease length for commercial ski resorts operating within provincial parks has not been reduced to allow BC Parks to better respond to climate changes and changes in recreational opportunities. And though the policy emphasizes the need for “accessible public recreation opportunities for residents of the greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley areas,” it fails to recognize the original purpose of parks for non-motorized recreation and access to wild natural areas. The Friends of Cypress Provincial Park have already submitted a letter outlining similar concerns and the FMCBC intends to follow up with one of our own.
As it was mentioned that portions of this policy might be used to inform other ski area operations based on Crown Land (not just in parks) we feel it should be widely distributed to alert recreationists across the province. If you are interested in being involved in this issue, please get in touch as we are always looking for volunteers with local knowledge in their recreation areas.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide comments on the draft policy. This may not have been the result we were hoping for, but we will continue to push for adequate consultation opportunities on commercial developments and for safe and unimpaired access to the backcountry for non-motorized recreationists.