BCAL issues cease and desist orders 

Three commercial backcountry operations shut down

Three small Sea to Sky companies have been held up as evidence that the B.C. Assets and Lands Corporation means business when it comes "illegal" commercial operations on Crown land.

The Crown corporation last weekend issued formal cease-and-desist orders under the Land Act to Whistler Dog Sleigh Rides, Mountain Echo Bed and Sled and Outback Snowmobile rentals.

One operator said he wasn’t even doing business and the other two said they didn’t think they required tenure for their operations.

To date, they are the only three companies in the Squamish Forest District that BCAL has identified as not having applied for tenure by the Dec. 29 deadline.

In total, BCAL has received 53 applications for tenure from operators currently doing business in the area. BCAL’s Charles Littledale said 23 applications were already in the system. The other 30 were a result of the Crown corporation’s 14-month transition plan launched to get everyone licenced by November, 2001.

The goal is now to process all the applications that involve summer activities before May 1. That means 44 tenure bids will need to adjudicated within the next two to three months. To do this, BCAL will batch the applications for efficiency and hold round table meetings with stakeholders, including local municipalities, the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Environment.

Within the next two weeks advertisements outlining the first round of applications will be placed in all corridor newspapers and the public is invited to offer input in writing.

A chart listing the applications will also be posted on the BCAL Web site. People who wish to start up new commercial operations on Crown land can still apply for tenure but they will be put in a "pending pile", said Littledale at a press conference held in Whistler Monday, Feb. 5.

Two of the three businesses hit with the recent cease-and-desist-orders fall into a somewhat grey area of the province’s Commercial Recreation on Crown Land Policy, implemented in 1998.

The other, Helmut Banka’s Whistler Dog Sleigh Rides, is listed in the phone book but Banka said he was no longer operating.

This is the second time the Crown has taken steps to shut Banka down. The first time was in March 1995 when representatives from the Ministry of the Environment and the Whistler public works department posted a trespass and seizure notice at Banka's kennel site on Crown land in the Wedgemount area. They then set fire to his kennels. In the process several dogs were turned loose and one was alleged to have burned to death. The incident is still subject of a legal tussle.

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