An outfitter looking to get a 30-year tenure for a backcountry ski and hiking operation got a rough ride at the RDCK’s Rural Affairs Committee meeting June 16.
Fresh Adventures wants to run tours in the land immediately south of Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park – the 9,600-hectare tenure area is in Areas E, F, and H. They are proposing to offer guided ski touring trips in the winter, from December to mid-April, and guided hiking trips from June to October. They expect about 400 people a year could be taken on the week-long backcountry trips.
“A huge focus on this project is ‘doing it right,’ meaning that I plan to operate in a socially and environmentally responsible way,” owner Alex Ross writes in his application. “I want to stress that I do not plan to hinder or reduce public access to this area at all. We require no exclusivity in order to operate and will be welcoming and considerate of the public.”
Fresh Adventures would also bring about six to 10 new jobs to the area by its fifth year of operation, and fill 125 hotel rooms during the winter season.
While the project might bring some economic benefit to the area, “the proposal would result in commercial recreational use of an area that already sees local backcountry usage,” staff warns in a report.
“Potential economic benefits related to the proposal conflict with sustainable social development principles, as approval of the application could result in access-related conflicts between existing users and the tenure-holder. It’s also not clear it would conform to the Official Community Plan of Area F.”
The staff report listed about a dozen concerns with the proposal, and directors added more.
“Helicopter traffic is a definite concern,” said Area H director Walter Popoff. “I believe in that report there is not sufficient information regarding conflicts with adjacent residential land use due to increased helicopter traffic overhead.”
“Any agreement to this by the Regional District will meet strong community opposition …,” said Area E’s Ramona Faust. “The application is not specific … it’s one of the least sophisticated applications for tenure of this size I’ve seen.”
“I think 30 years is way too long, and I’d like us to reflect – our comments from the regional district – that maybe it should be 10 years on the outside,” said director Garry Jackman.
Directors told staff to provide the province with input on the tenure application using the staff report, and including the concerns raised by the board.