Fair treatment for all
This letter was addressed to Minister of the Environment, Mary Polak, and forwarded to Pique for publication.
We are a group of clubs and organizations that represent thousands of people who are passionate outdoor enthusiasts and Garibaldi Park stakeholders, and we are writing to you today to express our deep concern regarding the completion and subsequent release of the document, the Garibaldi Park Management Plan update for the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons Ranges.
This document was in many ways triggered by the proposal to build the Spearhead Huts system (www.spearheadhuts.org) presented to BC Parks over three years ago by the Spearhead Huts Committee (a coalition of several groups). During this process there was exhaustive public and stakeholder input to review the current management plan and anticipate the future needs, desires and interests of the public balanced with the need for stewardship and protection within the park.
The process was expertly handled by the BC Parks staff despite, as you well know, extremely limited resources. The community was very engaged and motivated to take the opportunity to comment on this plan. Turnout at public meetings and written submissions was extraordinary.
All of us have been waiting for over a year for this report. We were assured that these final amendments to the Garibaldi Park Management Plan were supposed to be released last April! Our concern is that the final report, which has been finished for many months, now, has still not been released to the public or any other stakeholder group.
However, we know that Whistler Blackcomb/Whistler Heli Skiing (WB/WHS) has had the unique benefit of seeing and commenting on this report in advance of all the other stakeholders that participated in the process.
We cannot understand how this serves the principles of fair public engagement and due process. We cannot understand why this report is now delayed again. We cannot understand why one commercial interest, WB/WHS, the lone commercial motorized operator that apparently had something to lose in this process, has somehow had the ability to gain advantage and insight where no other has.
Specifically, the area referenced in this amendment represents a very, very narrow commercial value with questionable economic benefit to the community, the B.C taxpayers and public at large, as the heliskiing tenure represents approximately two per cent of WB/WHS total heli tenure! Therefore the loss or reduction of this commercial tenure could hardly be described as having any significant impact to its commercial interest.
It begs the question, "What was in the language, in the amendments, that WB/WHS felt was potentially so onerous that they have lobbied to send this final report back — despite the overwhelming public opinion and comment during the process that heliskiing in the park should be curtailed or stopped all together?
As such, this perversion of the process creates a huge advantage for WB/WHS to advance its commercial interests to the ministry in the absence of any other stakeholder voices to the contrary.
So given the stakes involved, the interest for all of our members of the representative groups, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and the public at large, we would ask the ministry to immediately release this finished report, so that the rest of the stakeholders can see it, and we can all move forward with our continuing work with the BC Parks staff and finalize the amendments to the Management Plan.
Our thousands of members and the public are waiting for this report... the same version that Whistler Blackcomb/Whistler Heli Skiing had the privilege of seeing.
Jayson Faulkner on behalf of the Alpine Club of Canada - Whistler Section
Alpine Club of Canada - Vancouver Section
Alpine Club of Canada - National
Friends of Garibaldi Park
Federation of Mtn. Clubs of BC
British Columbia Mountaineering Club
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