BC Parks ignores regional district ask for boat launch data

The Peace River Regional District is getting no answers from BC Parks about the condition of provincial park boat launches in the region.

The regional district board wants a status update as it looks to rally other local governments in Northern and Central B.C. to pressure the agency into fixing and maintaining its infrastructure.

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However, despite five phone messages and seven emails since the end of February, BC Parks officials haven't responded, according to Trish Morgan, general manager of community services.

"BC Parks are becoming increasingly popular but budgets have not increased with the use and demand on the parks," Morgan writes in a report that goes before the board on Thursday.

The request for the data comes after BC Parks abruptly barricaded the Mile 54 launch at Charlie Lake to motorized boats last fall without public notice or consultation, citing its condition. Though the launch remains open for canoeists and kayakers, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, which oversees BC Parks, says no repairs are planned.

At the same time, BC Parks installed gates to close access to the Mile 54 launch and parking lots during winter, and to close night access during the operating season from May to September. That gate, however, was vandalized this past winter and was repaired.

The regional district is looking to bring a motion about northern recreation and the need for BC Parks investments in repairs and maintenance to the annual meeting of the North Central Local Government Association in May. The association votes on policy proposals from member governments, which ultimately become lobbying priorities.

B.C. spends only $2.80 per hectare on its parks, according to the BC Parks Foundation, an independent organization. Alberta spends around $36 per hectare on its parks. Meanwhile, visitors to provincial and national parks in the province have soared from 20 million to 25 million over the last five years, according to the foundation.

The province has budgeted just $41.5 million for BC Parks this year, up from $40.4 million in 2018.

The Ministry of Environment says Parks officials were supposed to meet with the regional district board last week, but that meeting was cancelled. A new date has yet to be determined.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca. 

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