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The Sierra Club is non-partisan, but plans to make the lodges an issue in the upcoming provincial elections as part of their Vote Environment campaign.
"There are all kinds of studies that show parks create more economic return for the government than ever gets spent on them, so I dont buy the argument that these lodges are needed to help pay for the parks system. Theyre a huge economic driver," she said. "We also know that the people of B.C. are very proud and very protective of their parks system. The government doesnt have a leg to stand on with this issue, all of their arguments for the lodges are hollow, and we will be working to get the message out that these lodges are the first step of the privatization of our parks. Its been proven time and time again that once you let private, for-profit interests into a park, its very hard to turn back."
Anne Sherrod of the Valhalla Wilderness Society the group that released the leaked strategy after receiving the documents from a group calling itself the Public Service Employees for the Environment is currently putting together a report based on the strategy. They hope to release that report to the public next week.
The report would have been released sooner, but VWS has had its hands full reacting to some of the details in the strategy.
"Right in our backyard, the Valhalla Provincial Park is undergoing a Master Plan review, and the public input period for the plan was coming to a close when we received (the B.C. Parks Lodge Strategy). We had participated in that process and we had endorsed the plan until we learned that our park was on a list for consideration for a lodge," said Sherrod. "In light of what we found in these documents weve withdrawn our public support."
Sherrod says the prospect of building a lodge in the park never came up in the Master Plan discussions, even though the provincial government was involved in the planning process.
Sherrod says the Master Plan will be meaningless if the government allows the development of a lodge. The Master Plan creates zoning that allows different activities within the park, ranging from recreational areas for activities like camping and boating to conservation areas that are open to hikers only.
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