Im a backcountry enthusiast from Calgary who has been enjoying the pristine beauty of the Columbia Valley for most of my life. Im mostly an avid fisherman and this has taken me outside of the main valley, allowing me the pleasure of seeing some of the most spectacular places that the East Kootenay has to offer.
In my lifetime (like others who visit the area on a regular basis), I have watched as the area has grown and prospered with the tourism business. The valley has gone through some big growths and has taken on a newlook. Ive always been very impressed with the RDEK and how they have managed to keep the valleys growth contained within the inner rim of the main valley. I have also been very impressed with the locals determination to maintain the political process to control the spread of development into the backcountry so that not only locals, but visitors like myself can continue to spend time in the undeveloped backcountry .
Id like to think I understand how the political process works. Or, at least, understand how its supposed to work. Ive watched Jumbo transpire for the past twenty years and, although I do not understand how this has seemingly gone through despite the obviously huge opposition from the local people, I have watched it go through the process and can just assume as a visitor to the valley that all environmental requirements and permits are all in place.
The real reason Im writing this letter is because of Whitetail Lake. I have been fishing at Whitetail for most of my life and its one of the most beautiful undeveloped fishing lakes this area has to offer.
About eightyears ago, a large piece of private land that engulfs three quarters of the lake was sold to a group of developers. As a person who visits the lake at least twice a year, Ive became very interested and have spoken to many local people about what could or couldnt happen. I have learned over the years that this property (Lot 168) was given to CP Rail by the Canadian government so they could cut railway ties. It was zoned A-1 Managed Forest and you needed a timber licence to own the land.
Over the past eight years, I understand that this group not only successfully purchased the land, but also applied to the RDEK to develop it. Due to its zoning, it would be up to the RDEK and, of course, the local pubic to decide if this land would be used differently. It is my understanding that the application was turned down by the RDEK twice, and local rod and gun clubs and countless user groups have voiced their concerns.
This lake is very delicate environmentally due to the weed beds for fisheries and the travel corridors for wildlife and simply a beautiful mountain lake.I have held onto my faith that the political process would stop this development and thought it had.
Ive watched this property slowly go through minor changes over the years, but this spring when I arrived at the lake I was absolutely appalled!
The group was very busy last winter lots are cleared with very little or no riparian reserves along the lake; roads are gravelled and during the spring, rains were washing sediment straight into the lake; there were cut trees laying in the lake and large equipment working the shoreline. There are over twenty docks now lining the shoreline? I spent a week listening to wells being banged in. I also noticed for the first time that the pair of bald eagles that reside in their nest on the east side of the lake are not present anymore. The only other thing missing besides the eagles are the million dollar homes that are obviously on the verge of being built.
I was in shock to see this happen to such an untouched place. And even more shocked to find out it has been done without going through the political process! There is no rezoning of the land, and no public consultation! What has happened to the political process that I once admired about British Columbia? Not every visitor to this beautiful valley wants to golf, waterski or look at another development!
Shame on you B.C. government!
Garth P. Soby