Environmental group opts in to LRMP process 

Concerns voiced at last weekend’s first stakeholder meeting

The Environmental-Conservation group in the Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan has decided to stick with the year-long process despite earlier concerns.

At the first stakeholder meeting last weekend in Squamish the group expressed worries over a stipulation that no new protected areas could be created in the process.

Still, they have opted to take part in creating the plan for the area.

"Our intention is to proceed with the process," said the group’s representative at the table Johnny Mikes.

"We wanted to make sure there was enough flexibility in the terms of reference to come up with creative solutions.

"Why take a tool away from the toolbox?"

Mikes was confident that the participants at the table recognized their concerns.

"I’m happy they’re on board and they’re comfortable," said Dave Tudhope, project manager of the Sea to Sky LRMP.

The meeting marked the first of a series of weekend meetings which will take place over the coming year as various groups attempt to reach consensus on a plan to manage public land and natural resources in the Sea to Sky corridor.

"It was nice to get a milestone under our belt," said Tudhope.

There were three groups missing on Saturday – Agriculture, Environment-Fish and Wildlife, and Subsurface Resources and Aggregates.

Tudhope said those groups will most likely be represented at the next meeting.

Another group which was noticeably absent was First Nations, although a member from the Squamish Nation showed up at the afternoon session of the meeting and spoke about some of their interests.

Despite the missing participants, Mikes was positive about the first meeting.

"People seemed relatively open-minded. I thought it bodes well for the future," said Mikes.

"I didn’t see people getting super positional."

The Sea to Sky LRMP is one of the remaining plans still to be completed in the province. To date plans for more than 70 per cent of the province have been approved.

Mikes was involved in the Mackenzie LRMP for about two years, as the representative for backcountry tourism.

That plan took about five years to complete, with roughly 30 to 40 different interest groups with voices at the table.

"Everybody there had to make compromises," he said.

The Liberal government streamlined the process when they came into power and now the current process has limited seats and firmer deadlines.

The Sea to Sky plan will only have about 15 groups at the table. The plan is supposed to be ready for government approval by December 2003.

"My personal opinion is that a smaller number is more workable than a larger number, especially because they want to get (the Sea to Sky plan) done in a year," said Mikes.

As the representative of the Environmental-Conservation group, Mikes is responsible for bringing the group’s concerns to the table.

"My responsibility is to basically stay in touch with all the environmental groups in the corridor and to try and synthesize their views on things," he said.

"I don’t purport to know every environmental issue in the corridor."

Mikes has been living in Whistler for about eight years and grew up in the Lower Mainland. He was a board member with the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment but resigned after becoming a representative for all environmental groups in the corridor with the LRMP.

He would like the constituents to keep him informed of their concerns and to help craft solutions.

The next LRMP meeting, which is open to the public, is on Oct. 18 and 19.

The location has yet to be determined.

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