Photo of Bob St. John by Tim Penney

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you and give you a bit of insight into what I will be working towards with the FMCBC during my term as president. First though I would like to pay tribute to Scott Webster, now our valued past president.

For the past three years I have attended FMCBC meetings chaired by Scott. I have been impressed by the in-depth knowledge he brings to the table on topics both on and off the agenda. He has the rare combination of not only seeing the big picture, but also paying close attention to the details. A lot was done during Scott’s term as president, including work on our Strategic Plan, completion of the ‘Non-Motorized Outdoor Recreation in British Columbia in 2012:  Participation and Economic Contributions’ study, and implementation of our new standardized waivers. I know he volunteered a lot of time into these and other projects, and continues to volunteer on the Insurance, and Recreation and Conservation committees. On behalf of all members, I wish to thank you Scott for being our president over the last three years!

While I am at it I want to thank all the volunteers who have contributed their time to the FMCBC, and continue to do so. I have recently attended meetings of the Trails, and Rec and Con Committees. These committees are the heart and soul of the FMCBC, driven by members who believe that what they are doing really matters to our outdoor community. Volunteer time, and not money, is the most important thing we can give, and these committee members give us time in spades. Another VIP is Jodi Appleton, our Administration and Programs employee. Without Jodi, this organization would stop dead in its tracks. She is much more than an employee. She is self motivated, and wants the very best for the FMCBC.

So who am I? I am a 64 year old retired engineer who studied geology at UBC but worked mainly in Calgary. Calgary’s proximity to the Rockies drew me into the great outdoors where I took up hiking and skiing with the Rocky Mountain Ramblers, an outdoor club that co-ordinates over 300 trips a year. I served on their executive for 12 years.

I moved back to the coast in 2006, not to my hometown of Vancouver but to Denman Island, which lies off the east coast of Vancouver Island just south of Comox. I have continued my outdoor life with the Comox District Mountaineering Club (CDMC) and the Friends of Strathcona Park (FOSP). My four years with the FOSP was spent in their struggle to keep the Bedwell Valley accessible to the public. I helped them build a 14 km trail from Bedwell Lake in the alpine to Bedwell Inlet on the west coast. My take-away from my experience with the Friends is that our provincial parks are in dire need of public re-funding and that our current government appears more concerned about private commercial interests in our parks and less concerned about public interests.

I have served as an FMCBC director for five years representing either CDMC or FOSP. Now I find myself president of this organization. While I do not know all the prior presidents or where they came from, I suspect I am in the minority of those not from the Lower Mainland or those who came through the ranks of the committees based there. This removal from the FMCBC centre of gravity has its pros and cons. The cons would include my lack of experience with committees where a lot of FMCBC work is done. Another is that it costs $200 and 12 hours of travel to attend those meetings. The pros would include the fact that I am not from the Lower Mainland so I won’t get overwhelmed by the myriad of issues there and will be able to keep my focus on issues affecting all clubs across the province.

In the near term (4 months) there are a few issues that need dealing with. The Acknowledgement of Risk form for minors needs final approval and guidelines for online waivers need to be established. (Paper waivers executed properly will always be acceptable.) We will also be considering the possibility that the FMCBC will offer an optional online waiver service. We will begin re-establishing regional meetings; the first is scheduled for the Vancouver Island Region this November. In the mid-term (1 year) we need to review and update our Strategic Plan, and arrange regional meetings for the interior of BC. I would also like to see Jodi’s position redefined in order to leverage her abilities to the benefit of the FMCBC.

I personally would like to visit all the member clubs over my term. I have already enjoyed hiking with the Kootenay Mountaineering Club and the Ozalenka Alpine Club who are based in McBride. While email and teleconferencing are great for some tasks, I believe that meeting personally helps immensely with connecting to our diverse network of volunteers and organizations. I also want to see what works well for other similar organizations; hence we are sending two delegates to the Washington State Trails Conference in Bellingham. These are just some of the things I want to accomplish. You too can influence what I and others do for the Federation by taking part in meetings and taking an interest in our affairs. I stress ‘our’ affairs as this is your organization. It is yours to direct and yours to make work. ■

For more information contact Bob St. John directly at:  or contact our Executive Director, Jodi Appleton at:

 —Article is from the FMCBC’s Fall/Winter 2014 issue of Cloudburst