Sasquatch Provincial Park boundary proposal raises environmentalists’ concerns

If you visit the website of Sasquatch Provincial Park, you won't see anything about a proposal to change the Class A park's boundaries.

However, this proposal is listed on another B.C. Parks webpage, titled "Provincial Protected Area Boundary Adjustment Policy, Process and Guidelines". That page notes that the Seabird Island Band wants to remove land from the 1,217-hectare park, north of Harrison Hot Springs, for the "use of existing and deactivated roads for timber hauling". However, the page also states: "Web-based information on this boundary adjustment is not available at this time."

Environmental groups—the Wilderness Committee and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society—are drawing attention to this latest plan to remove land from and "bisect" a provincial protected area. The Wilderness Committee sent out a news release today (June 19) to publicize tonight's public meeting on the Sasquatch proposal.

Tamihi Logging is holding the meeting on behalf of the band, according to the Wilderness Committee. The meeting will take place at the Coast Chilliwack Hotel (45920 First Avenue, Chilliwack) from 5 to 8 p.m.

"It is terribly wrong and bizarre that the logging company has been put in charge of these public meetings on the future of Sasquatch Park. This flawed process means that we are going to have to push very hard to see that the logging truck scheme is ditched and the park protected," Foy, national campaign director for the Wilderness Committee, said in the release.

Sasquatch Provincial Park was established by an order-in-council in 1959. The boundary change proposal is at Stage 2 of the provincial protected area boundary adjustment process, which means the environment minister didn't reject the initial proposal at Stage 1 and invited the proponent to file a detailed proposal.

It's not the only provincial park boundary amendment being considered at this time. For one thing, Kinder Morgan Canada's proposal for changes to Finn Creek Provincial Park, North Thompson River Provincial Park, Lac Du Bois Grasslands Protected Area, Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area, and Bridal Falls Provincial Park—in order to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion—is also at Stage 2.

A May report by B.C. Parks, titled Provincial Protected Area Boundary Adjustments 2004-2014, records "62 modifications to protected area boundaries, totalling approximately 3,803 hectares" between those years. The report states: "8 of the 62 boundary modifications are considered 'category 3' under the policy, or adjustments where a proponent is interested in a development or activity not allowed under protected area legislation. These types of modifications have resulted in 560.75 hectares being removed from parks and conservancies."

One of the Category 3 changes listed took place in 2012 at Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, where "2.36 ha were deleted to enable construction of Sea to Sky Gondola".

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