The Honourable Judge L. Doerksen heard arguments from Crown Prosecutor Rebecca Smyth in Invermere Court on Thursday, March 9th regarding the David Pacey case. Mr. Pacey is facing two counts of damaging flora, fauna or a natural object, which is a contravention of the Canada National Parks Act.
Mr. Pacey was found, on April 20th, 2016, using a Swede saw to remove a sapling tree from the path on the Kindersley Pass Trail in Kootenay National Park. The Crown brought forward four instances where Mr. Pacey engaged in conversation with Parks Canada employees regarding Kindersley Pass Trail, his work on the trail, and two instances of being approached by park wardens while conducting the work.
The first incident Crown brought forward was May 5th, 2015 when park wardens Paul Friesen and Victoria Moran responded to a call that a man was on Kindersley Pass Trail with a wheelbarrow. When they approached the man, who was identified by his licence as David Richard Pacey, he informed the wardens of his concern for the condition of the trail.
“He said he was fixing up trails because of the state of the trails. He said he was taking gravel from the parking lot,” Mr. Friesen told the court..
Mr. Pacey was transporting gravel from the parking lot to the base of the trail, taking it about 100 metres in, according to the wardens. Mr. Friesen recognized that Mr. Pacey was trying to improve the situation, but the two wardens informed him that what he was doing illegal and that he needed to get a permit signed by superintendent Melanie Kwong to continue working in the park. The wardens suggested that Mr. Pacey get in touch with park management staff and Mr. Pacey was issued a written warning.
External relations manager Jenny Klafki became aware that Mr. Pacey had some interaction with the park’s law enforcement. She became involved with the case to look into volunteer opportunities that may be available within the park for Mr. Pacey. On July 6th, 2016, Ms. Klafki joined park superintendent Melanie Kwong, Mr. Pacey and Wayne Lyons with the Summit Trail Makers Society on a hike along the Kindersley Pass Trail. During their 3.5-to-four-kilometre hike, Mr. Pacey showed the Parks staff the areas of the trail that he had done work on. Emails brought forward by the Crown show that Mr. Pacey and Ms. Klafki continued to discuss his concerns about the condition of the path and it was clear to Parks staff he continued to work on the trail despite their warnings. In an email, Ms. Klafki said, “I would like to repeat you cannot undertake trail work in Kootenay National Park”.
The next time Parks staff would meet with Mr. Pacey was April 20th, 2016 when park wardens Paul Friesen and Victoria Moran were on patrol and drove by Kindersley Pass. Mr. Friesen recognized a parked car and, after a search of the Canadian Police Information Centre, found the licence plates registered to Mr. Pacey. Knowing that Mr. Pacey had not received a work permit for the park, the pair decided to walk up Kindersley Pass Trail and found Mr. Pacey actively cutting a tree.
“I asked him to collect his tools, leave the trail and put his tools in the truck of his car,” said Ms. Moran.
It was seven days later on April 27th, 2016 that Ms. Moran would again encounter Mr. Pacey when she conducted an interview with him at the RCMP detachment in Invermere. The interview was a voluntary interview in which Mr. Pacey stated to Ms. Moran that his morals took over; he felt it necessary to do work on the trail.
During the proceeding, the Crown argued that Mr. Pacey’s work in the park was a safety concern, not only for other visitors, but also himself. Crown’s argument alleged that Mr. Pacey was working on the trails during a time of restricted activity order, specifically the group of four restrictions. Parks Canada group of four restrictions is enacted during times that there is grizzly bear activity on the trail; the restriction allows for larger groups of four or more people to hike the trail. Having a larger group of people on the trail creates a louder disturbance, which gives animals warning hikers are approaching. During Ms. Moran’s investigation, she uncovered a timeline of Mr. Pacey’s work through email correspondence that suggests he was working during that restricted time.
Mr. Pacey’s argument during the proceeding was that he was making changes to the park based on the Parks Canada trail specification guidelines, expanding the trail from 18 inches to four feet wide. Due to the amount of evidence and witnesses, the Crown brought forward Mr. Pacey, who was unable to take the stand on March 9th, but will as the court continues for this case on April 5th.