On October 4th, 2011, the Conservancy’s Board of Directors of the Conservancy met with representatives of Parks Canada. This web page summarizes the topics discussed and the responses from Parks Canada.
Parks Canada stated that it is the current intention to have a specific Advisory Group for Bowen. The existing Advisory Group for the Gulf Island National Park Reserve is a combination of two elected representatives (one each from Island Trust and the Capital Regional District), three members of the public, and two employees from Parks Canada (one of which is the Park Reserve’s Superintendent).
The objective of the Advisory Group is to achieve consensus relative to the issues under discussion. If consensus is not achieved, the matter is referred to the CEO of Parks Canada for resolution. To date, this has not occurred with the Gulf Islands Advisory Board. We understand that a similar approach could be taken for the Advisory Group on Bowen. It would therefore have much more significance than the liaison groups that currently exist on the Gulf Islands.
Management plans are reviewed every five years to determine whether changes are needed. All stakeholders’ input is considered. Parks Canada pointed out that stakeholder engagement resulted in changing the proposed location for a backcountry campsite on Saturna Island and a new location was proposed as a result.
Value of Bowen Island to Parks Canada
Parks Canada stated that they were interested in Bowen Island due to its representation of the Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone of the Strait of Georgia Lowlands natural region (wetter zone). Species at Risk would be protected and the potential for habitat restoration would be assessed by Parks Canada.
Parks Canada is confident that there should be no problem with ensuring that sensitive land is protected from destruction by too many visitors: it is an issue that is well known to them in many other Parks. There are a variety of tools used, such as zoning, trail layout, education, access control, and enforcement. Visitors are directed to the areas that are more robust and can survive heavy use, while other areas can be reserved for educational and research purposes or only visited with a guide. An important approach is to provide the pertinent information so that visitors can understand why they should stay in one area and not trample on others. A reservation system could be implemented to control numbers of visitors accessing a particular area/trail if user levels are posing a risk to the long-term protection of the areas resources.
Parks Canada will have approximately 12 full time equivalent staff available for assisting with Park management and access. They emphasized that resident privacy is an important aspect of park visitor management that would be monitored to ensure people do the “right” thing (behavior wise). The peak season would involve up to 20 full time staff with less staff during the off-season. ATVs would not be allowed. Activities and access can be restricted in environmentally-sensitive areas.
Preservation of the Huszar Creek watershed
Though Parks Canada had some early contact with the Cape Roger Curtis owners, Parks Canada is very clear that it has no mandate to consider any land other than that owned by Government of one level or another. Any initiative regarding rezoning, land dedication or acquisition, density changes, and so on would have to be independent of Parks Canada because they do not have jurisdiction over these lands. They stated that if a “Yes” vote occurred as a result of the community opinion vote on November 19th, and if a park was established, then Parks Canada would proceed to identify specific areas for protection through management planning.
They suggested that the Conservancy respond to the OnLine comment form and inform elected representatives of all levels of government that private lands in Cape Roger Curtis or elsewhere are an important aspect of park creation. They also suggested that the Conservancy draft a letter for distribution concerning private lands and the conservation of intact ecosystems, such as the Huszar Creek watershed and its marine components.
Inclusion of Headwaters Park
At this stage, Headwaters Park is omitted from the proposed lands to be incorporated into the National Park Reserve, since the Municipality did not include it in the land to be considered. Parks Canada would be open to considering this property if the Municipality were to put it forward.
Management Plan for Fairy Fen
Parks Canada has no position on any of the details of the Management Plan and its implementation. However, unofficially, we have been offered help if we would like some advice on specific issues that lie within PC expertise.
Parks Canada indicated that they have conservation architects on staff who could assist with cottage assessment and conservation within the Davies Orchard.
Parks Canada advised that a “No” vote from the community opinion vote would have a very significant impact on the future of the Park. Subsequently, the senior member of the Parks Canada team wrote to the Undercurrent, and, after comments about continuing to seek input from Bowen Islanders and First nations, Islands Trust Fund and Metro Vancouver, stated “But if Bowen residents vote against a national park reserve, we have also promised to respect that and the feasibility study concludes.”
It is too early to comment on the location of trail heads for the Park in the context of their current locations.
Parks Canada emphasized the importance of involving our elected officials to share the viewpoints of our organization.
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