BCAL not ready to shut down backcountry operators 

The Dec. 29, 2000 deadline has passed but it will take a few weeks before the B.C. Assets and Lands Corporation will be in a position to start shutting down any commercial backcountry recreation operators who may not have applied for tenure.

It will also be several weeks before BCAL will be in a position to comment on the announcement of any new tenures.

BCAL received a rash of applications in the last few days leading up to the cut-off date stipulated as part of the 14-month transition announced in October last year.

The Crown corporation cannot say how many operators did finally apply for licence before the deadline because some of those last-minute applications could be incomplete and may end up not being counted.

As of the end of November, however, only about half of the estimated 100 business operating "illegally" on Crown land in the Sea to Sky region had formally applied for tenure.

Commercial recreation co-ordinator Elisabeth Eldridge said her office received a few more applications in the first half of December but they were incomplete and had to be returned. BCAL was thus expecting a last minute flurry of applications in the days leading up to the deadline.

The corporation is now assessing the proposals that did come in to see which can be deemed to be complete before they can add up the numbers and see who is operating illegally.

"It is not quite as simple as counting up the envelopes," noted BCAL’s David Reilley. "We need to give each of those applications a preliminary technical analysis to determine whether the application is complete. We have to see whether we have been provided with all the information we need in order to go ahead and evaluate the proposal," he said.

"Some of them may have little blanks missing and those we will cut some slack and ask them to fill in the blanks."

For others, it may be a different story.

Operators with applications considered incomplete will be asked to cease doing business on Crown land. Reilley said once BCAL has determined who hasn’t applied, the first step will be to send out letters.

"We hope to be able to make that determination some time this month."

Reilley said BCAL is being extra vigilant in making sure applications are complete so that delays are eliminated when the applications are sent out to the various referral agencies – like local municipalities, the regional district, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests.

"In the past we ran into delays when we made referrals and critical information was missing. So now we are putting a little more effort in the front end, but once we get past the front end we can move more quickly," noted Reilley.

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