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Sea to Sky LRMP given March 2004 deadline to complete work

Stan Hagen, the minister of sustainable resource management, met with about 25 local stakeholders last week to gather ideas for the future land use plan in the Sea to Sky corridor. The Feb.

Stan Hagen, the minister of sustainable resource management, met with about 25 local stakeholders last week to gather ideas for the future land use plan in the Sea to Sky corridor.

The Feb. 15 meeting included representatives from tourism, forestry, mining, recreation and the environment, along with members of the local governments.

Learning from past Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) processes, Hagen said he will put tighter timeframes on the Sea to Sky plan. The ultimate goal is to have it ready by March 2004.

"We are putting timelines (on the process).… The reason for that is that timelines are directly connected to my budget targets," said Hagen.

"The Central Coast (LRMP participants) were at the table for five years at a huge cost to the public purse."

Another lesson learned from the Central Coast process is that the number of stakeholders invited to the table must be kept small.

There were about 60 voices at that table. Hagen is now capping the number of representatives at 17.

To date, B.C. has about 85 per cent of its land encompassed in LRMPs that are completed or already underway. Each of these LRMPs has been unique in its own way.

The Sea to Sky LRMP must also reflect the uniqueness of its area and its process of drafting its plan must be specific to the needs and wants here.

"We want to create a table or a process or a group here that will work for the Sea to Sky," Hagan said.

Hagen intended his Whistler meeting to be a time where he could listen and really hear the points of the various interest groups.

One common concern raised by a number of people at the meeting was the need to include First Nations effectively in the LRMP process.

While there were no First Nations representatives at the meeting, Hagen met separately with members of the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations while on his trip.

Lyle Leo, the CEO of Lil'wat Nation said that First Nations cannot be lumped into the same category as other stakeholders.

"(The government) need(s) to ensure that (First Nations’) needs and concerns are included and be creative and innovative around that and not look at the First Nations as just another stakeholder. There's a real history there with the land."

Preparations for the Sea to Sky LRMP have been ongoing for about one year.

Many of the stakeholders have met in the past and a lot of work has already been done. Susan Gimse, director with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, said the LRMP process should consider this.

"We don't want to reinvent the wheel," she said.

Many stakeholders are aware that the LRMP’s goal is to balance the needs of the various communities, the differing economies and the diverse ecosystems in the Sea to Sky Corridor, as well as ensuring it is a sustainable place to live and work.

"We need to provide surety and security to investors," said Hagen.

"Our economy is in the tank province-wide."

Each of the stakeholders can give reasons why their interests are paramount in the LRMP and to future investment here.

"Tourism most definitely is a bright light in the B.C. economy," said Suzanne Denbak, the president of Tourism Whistler.

Mike Wallace, a representative of the Soo Coalition for Sustainable Forests Society, said the forest industry has had to adapt to many things over the past 10 years like reductions in annual cuts. Now the industry is facing new challenges in softwood lumber and so needs better security that can be provided with an LRMP.

Hagen was particularly pleased to see a representative from the mining industry at the meeting.

The mining representatives have walked away from previous LRMP processes in frustration.

Among all the differing points of view, Whistler's Mayor Hugh O'Reilly added another thought to the meeting.

He said the success of the Sea to Sky LRMP will be determined by how the process is set up.

"There is tremendous passion in this room... (it's) important that we have guiding principles," he said.

Hagen and his staff will now go back to Victoria to digest the needs of backcountry tour operators and independent power producers, and the 2010 Olympic Bid Corporation, among all the others.

In two to three months the ministry will have processed the information and will hopefully come up with some models for the Sea to Sky process.

After the meeting Hagen said: "I am very enthusiastic. There is an obvious desire to move ahead with the LRMP process."