Frustrations with backcountry continue 

"There is going to be an explosion soon."

Those are the words of frustration being used to describe the simmering state of the Sea to Sky backcountry. They come from chair of the Sea to Sky Commercial Recreation Association, John Spencer Nairn, but he is not alone in his exasperation over provincial attempts to manage commercial recreation in the Sea to Sky outback.

The same sentiments are being expressed not only by the commercial recreation association, which represents the handful of operators with tenures in this region, but also by the as yet unlicensed operators and members of the public.

There appeared, on the surface, to be a moment of calm in the backcountry late last year, a collective holding of breath as the Dec. 29 deadline set by the B.C. Assets and Lands Corporation approached.

The deadline was part of BCAL’s 14 month transition plan. Operators were given a grace period until Dec. 29 to apply for licence. BCAL said enforcement action would be taken against those who did not apply by that date yet continued to operate.

But the deadline has come and gone.

BCAL still can’t say how many of the estimated 100 operators in this region did actually apply for tenure by the deadline. No "illegal" operators have been told to shut down and no new tenures have been announced.

The Crown corporation has told the Sea to Sky Commercial Recreation Association and the public they will all have to sit tight and wait for a press conference that will probably be held before the end of this month, but in the meantime the tension has, once again, started to bubble over.

SSCRA charter member and Mad River tenure holder Brad Sills is now questioning whether many operators have actually applied for licence.

Tenure holders are angry with recent "trespasses" by unlicensed operators on their tenures. They are angry about the lack of enforcement and they are frustrated at what they see as BCAL’s double standards in dealing with applicants.

For example, operators, like George Meilleur of Outdoor Adventures, have been denied tenures for infractions while others can flout cease and desist orders and still be courted by BCAL.

Canadian Snowmobile Adventures, like Outdoor Adventures, has been issued cease and desist orders in the past for infractions and most recently the company started building a yurt without permission near Woods Lake, within Mad River’s tenure.

BCAL’s enforcement officer, Bob Cunneyworth, said he did tell Canadian to stop as soon as he found out about the yurt Jan. 16, but the infractions have not stopped BCAL from processing Canadian’s tenure application.

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