It should come as no surprise that the Columbia Valley Recreation Access Coalition (CVRAC)’s attempt to instill some kind of control mechanisms over backcountry and forecountry use in the valley has hit a roadblock. Various local groups are already on tenderhooks due to years of conflict over the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort. It was probably only a matter of time before these coalition talks — albeit of a completely different nature to the Jumbo debate yet involving similar diametrically opposed views — became so mired in strife that the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations decided to put its fringe involvment on hold until things cool down.
The provincial government has made it clear there is no money at this point in time for a sanctioned plan of this sort, but some community members are so concerned about irresponsible users running roughshod here, there and everywhere that they decided to take matters into their own hands and get a head start on the process for when funds finally do become available. Their intention is a wise one and can’t be faulted. Many successful outdoor destinations have access management plans. Take Whistler, for instance. Known internationally for its recreation and wilderness, different user groups work together because it’s generally understood that all business in the valley benefits from their co-operation, ultimately creating a stronger business community and engendering more opportunities. Once a management plan is agreed upon and in place, this sets the foundation for marketing solutions directed at target consumers, and clear regional signage. Users clearly understand what they can do, where, making for a more purposeful and well-planned experience.
The key is finding a common ground, and while this is what CVRAC honourably set out to do, the process that unfolded appears to not have been a popular one. This doesn’t mean it’s game over and people should sit on their hands and wait for the ministry to take over at some indeterminate point in the future. It’s just time to go back to the drawing board and design a process that is not so administrative-laden, is more acceptable to the community at large, and begins with a basic map that users can relate to.