Dear Editor:

In 1992 the backcountry land use stakeholders of the Columbia Valley engaged in a very worthwhile process facilitated by Steven Owen, Lawyer and the Provincial Ombudsman. Comprehensive Land Use Plans for the Kootenay-Boundary were established, better known as the Commission on Resources and the Environment (CORE). With the guidance of provincial land use planners and excellent facilitation, a consensus among stakeholders was much easier to accomplish with a “common ground” approach to design recreation land use zones (polygons).

An outcome was the implementation of the Kootenay-Boundary Land Use Commission (KBLUC), which has now been terminated, but had the intention to administer the fundamentals of CORE. As stated recently by numerous local stakeholders, our valley is the “forgotten child” of the province, as many other regions have realized some form of land management plan. Numerous versions have materialized such as the Golden Backcountry Recreation Access Plan which was approved in 2003 for a land area of 924,099 hectares.

Since 1992, we have had many ground-up local planning processes, but have not yet seen the coordination and collaboration of facilitation, education, and guiding principles from provincial policy makers for our special interest groups and operators to execute such plans. Over the years, many very committed locals have experienced extreme social pressures along with personal and business interruption to be “make believe” resource, environmental and recreation planners. This has all resulted in community mayhem; friends fighting amongst friends, anger and anxieties aroused, all of which is demoralizing and building walls in our towns. Our local knowledge and lifestyles with their stories can only materialize with the coordination and cooperation of top-down procedure and policy from the province.

Now, at the other end of the landscape, it is amazing to see what Marsha Walden and her Destination BC team are doing to foster the return of “Super Natural British Columbia” as a marketing image of intimate, unique and authentic experiences along with the colourful stories of our people and mountain culture. The natural resources, recreation, people and place assets of the Columbia Valley are a targeted, high value marketing product for B.C., but, are we service ready with a sound Land Use Plan? OBVIOUSLY NOT! Thank you to the top level team of Destination BC for coming in late April and again in June with their facilitator/staff to do strategy workshops where our questions and input can be answered here and now. I am suggesting there be similar cooperation and collaboration from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, & Natural Resources Operations (FLNRO) – Recreation Sites & Trails Branch. Our regional stakeholders and communities need to build a more direct working relationship with that ministry. I am asking the Province of B.C. to lead (or at least support) a Tourism and Recreation land use plan for the area of the Central Purcell Mountains between the north boundary of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy and the south boundary of the Golden Backcountry Access Plan.

Pat Bavin

Invermere, B.C.