Letter to the Editor 02-16-2012

Dear Editor


The Friends of Strathcona Park (FOSP) have been fighting for approximately seven years against government moves to allow a high-impact commercial operation into the Bedwell Valley in Strathcona Park.  


When the Strathcona Park Master Plan didn't allow the proposed commercial activity, the government changed the Master Plan.


When 80 - 90% of people attending a hastily contrived government "consultation" process spoke against it, the government went ahead.


When the Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee (appointed by government) opposed it unanaimously, the government still went ahead.


The Friends of Strathcona Park have been fighting issues similar to this one since a former government chopped the park in half in 1987 and opened the park up to extensive high-impact commercial operations.  FOSP won that battle, and the governent was forced to reverse its actions after a major public blockade in 1988.


The fight to create a real park didn't end with the blockade.  A few years later, when a park administrator turned park land over to a logging company to construct a logging road, FOSP fought it in court.


When a mine illegally flew engineering crews into several alpine lakes in the park to prepare plans to siphon water from the delicate lake systems for hydro power, FOSP fought again.


Obviously, it takes more than a set of boundaries to create a park.  To be effective, the boundaries must have meaning, and meaning doesn't come without work.  Before the 1988 blockade, there were around 250 mining claims in Strathcona.  Whole valleys in the park had been logged with government approval.  Entire watersheds had been dammed to provide hydro power for commercial purposes.  Creeks were polluted, fish were killed, lakes were strewn with garbage, all by commercial operations approved by provincial governments.


Drawing boundaries on a map doesn't create a park.  From 1911 to 1988, Strathcona was essentially a commercial park.  In 1988, people finally began to fight to give park boundaries some real meaning.  People wanted a real park, not a commercial enterprise.  


Most of the mining claims in the park have now been extinguished.  There is currently only one operating mine, and it will eventually close.  Commercial logging in the park has stopped.  Lakes are no longer being dammed.  These activitiies, so damaging to the park, didn't just stop on their own, and they weren't willingly stopped by governments.  It took a huge amount of hard work and the arrests of many dedicated people to force government to change direction.  The battle continues.


In December, the present provincial government approved a permit for a high-impact commercial dude ranch operation in the Bedwell Valley.


This operation is totally unsuitable to a west coast rainforest valley.  It will harm the park in many ways.  The park belongs to the public, and the government shouldn't have the right to give the Bedwell over to serve the commercial wishes of a high-impact private operation. 


FOSP will fight this in court.  A motivated and very capable lawyer has been hired.  A win will create a valuable precedent in law.  The park is worth it.  Please donate at:  friendsofstrathcona.org


These are my own thoughts, and I'm writing this plea on my own, although I'm also an executive member of FOSP. 


Karl Stevenson