BCAL deadline looms 

More than half of area’s backcountry operators still haven’t applied for tenure

With the Dec. 29 deadline looming, less than 50 per cent of the estimated 100 businesses operating "illegally" on Crown land in Sea to Sky country have formally applied for tenure.

Those that don’t apply in time face being shut down in the new year.

As of the end of November, the B.C. Assets and Lands Corporation had received a total of 48 applications.

BCAL’s commercial recreation co-ordinator for this region, Elisabeth Eldridge, said her office did get a few more applications after that date but they were incomplete and had to be returned.

She said, however, inquiries are still flowing and more than 84 application packages have been sent out.

Eldridge said she expects some people may be using these last few days until the deadline to make sure their applications are complete. "We have told them they have to provide everything so that we can make adequate decisions."

Under BCAL’s 14-month transition plan, announced in October, operators were given a grace period until Dec. 29 to apply for licence to operate on Crown land before enforcement action is initiated.

This would start with a cease and desist order and could escalate to incarceration and seizure of property.

By the time the transition period ends in November 2001, the goal is to have all commercial operators on Crown land in Sea to Sky country licensed.

Existing businesses that do apply by the December deadline will be able to continue to operate while their applications are being evaluated, unless their operation is causing serious environmental damage or other major conflicts.

Rent will be charged retroactive to Dec. 29, 2000 if their applications are approved after that date.

BCAL has set a target of April, 2001, by which time it hopes to have made decisions on all applications from existing summer recreation operations so that companies can plan for the coming season. Decisions on applications made for existing winter recreation activities will be made by November, 2002.

BCAL will accept applications for new business that haven’t yet started up but they will be last in the queue.

BCAL said now that the transition plan is in place, no new business will be permitted to start operating on Crown land without a permit.

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