The Columbia Valley is pretty much the only region in the East Kootenay without an official Recreational Access Management Plan a state of affairs that 25 community members representing various clubs, societies, and the RDEK sought to rectify, or at least start that process, when they met to discuss how to create a such plan for the Valley earlier this week.
The meeting, held Monday, May 8th in Radium Hot Springs, had representation from both motorized and non-motorized groups throughout the Valley all hoping to come to a common goal for management of backcountry and front country recreation. The group has gained some momentum after receiving a grant from the Recreation Sites and Trails branch of the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO).
The group was allotted $7,500 to put to use within the next year and made a decision to put the grant towards funding a facilitator for the project. All but one member of the group was in favour of a facilitator. The person opposed to the idea was Nipika Mountain Resort owner Lyle Wilson, who thought the group needed a more democratic process to their organization.
I don’t want to rely on a facilitator to manage the process, said Mr. Wilson.
A subcommittee of three members was formed to research other recreational access management plans, highlights from plans, and do preliminary research on a facilitator to bring back for discussion with the whole group.
Radium mayor Clara Reinhardt suggested that the committee have representation from government, motorized and non-motorized users. The subcommittee of three is made up of RDEK Area G director Gerry Wilkie, Andrew Cradduck representing motorized users, and Eddie Petryshen from local environmental group Wildsight.
Throughout the meeting, several people suggested that the RAMP should have a government lead, as do similar district-level management plans for other issue, rather than the grassroots approach thats currently being used. Mr. Wilson suggested that the group look at other RAMPS and use them as templates, finding commonalities in their plan, and then cut and paste together something appropriate for the Valley.
Mark Halwa of Greenways Trail Alliance suggested the group should start by talking about their goals, values, process, timeline, and a budget for the plan. However, he was opposed by other members, who said the group is yet at that stage.
Rick Hoar, president of the Windermere Valley Rod & Gun club, said he felt the goals were clearly set out, but added that he is concerned about who’s not at this table, going to point out that absence of the B.C. Trappers Associatuion, the Wild Sheep Society of B.C, representatives from the hunting guide industry, and First Nations,
The group was unable to decide on what goals should be discussed and focused the meeting on their plans for a facilitator. The next RAMP meeting will be held on Monday, July 31st at 7 p.m. in the Village of Radium Hot Springs council chambers.