Companies behind 31 applications for commercial recreation tenures should know by Monday, April 30 if their plans to operate on Crown land will go ahead this summer but the B.C Assets and Lands Corporation warns that most tenures will be for short terms.
The 31 applications have been advertised by BCAL in every newspaper throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor over the past two months, as part of a consultative phase with the public and interagency groups. This current round of applicants had until Dec. 29, 2000 to submit their full proposals, as part of the 14-month transition plan announced in October 1999.
BCAL says an additional four applicants were not advertised despite making the deadline. Vancouver All-terrain Adventure, Whistler Bike and Hike and Eco Mountain Tours Ltd. were not advertised due to "unresolved issues." A fourth application, from Adventures on Horseback, was not advertised. due to missing data in the application. All four will be dealt with between May and June.
BCAL says decisions are also imminent on an additional five applicants who advertised their tenure proposals last year, prior to the December cut-off date.
David Reilley, BCAL special projects spokesperson, says the provincial governments move to initiate a Land Resource Management Plan process for the Sea to Sky area will affect tenure outcomes.
"Normally we would issue a tenure for 20 years but almost all of the current round will be for three to five years," he explains. "This will avoid locking ourselves in to long-term leases in areas where land use planning is an ongoing thing."
BCALs comments are likely to be welcomed by conservation and public user groups, although some have called for a moratorium on leases until the LRMP process is complete. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is among those lobbying for short-term tenure leases. Eva Riccius, CPAWS park-watch co-ordinator, says BCAL must weigh up backcountry carrying capacities for commercial operators in relation to public use and ecological values. She says a number of the current applications include provincial parks, therefore care is needed to ensure existing park management plans are not compromised, especially by motorized recreational activity.
Reilley says B.C. Parks will ultimately decide which activities are permitted within provincial parks through the park use permit system. However he feels BCAL and CPAWS are on a similar wavelength.
"I think we are applying the same principles in relation to the length of the leases, but possibly not as severely as theyve suggested," he says. "Of course there may be some exceptions where there are no issues to prevent a long-term 20 year lease and not to do so would just encumber the business."
Reilley says the status of applications changes daily as BCAL land officers uncover aspects that need checking such as user conflicts or wildlife habitat protection. But he says they have been "cranking through the summer round" and should be ready to tackle the next 31 winter commercial recreation applications from May onwards.