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Lillooet LRMP rejected again



Underlying tension between rural residents who live and work in area and urban environmentalists and recreationalists who use region as a playground

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District reaffirmed its resolution to reject the Lillooet Land and Resource Management Plan at a board meeting Monday, despite the concerns of conservation and recreation groups.

The SLRD board voted 8-1 in favour of standing by their decision. The lone vote against the resolution was from Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly.

During last month’s board meeting, the resolution passed with unanimous support including that of O’Reilly.

The SLRD board believes a true consensus was not reached on the plan because two options were forwarded to the NDP government during its last days in office. The NDP then chose the "greener" option.

"We feel there should only be one option," said Russ Oakley, the SLRD’s Area A director who represented the Gold Bridge-Bralorne area at the LRMP table. "The process ended up failing. But if it came back to the community, a consensus could be reached – and the board agrees."

Sheila McLean, the SLRD’s Area B director, brought forth the original resolution. Area B consists of the rural area around Lillooet that includes Yalakom, Bridge River, Seton, Shalalth, Texas Creek, Fountain Valley, Pavilion and Duffey Lake.

Oakley said the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, whose boundaries also fall within the Lillooet LRMP planning area, supports the SLRD resolution.

Meanwhile, conservationists say a consensus has been reached and that the SLRD is undermining the whole land-use planning process.

"People have invested five years of their life into this and a consensus was reached," said Eckhard Zeidler of the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment. "But the SLRD has chosen not to respect that."

Zeidler is AWARE’s backyard wilderness co-ordinator and attended Monday’s SLRD board meeting along with a number of conservation and recreation groups, including the Southern Chilcotin Mountains Wilderness Society and Sierra Club of B.C.

The Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. and Outdoor Recreational Council of B.C. have written letters to the SLRD expressing their concern with the resolution as well.

The four groups sat at the Lillooet LRMP planning table. AWARE did not participate in the process but Zeidler said the local environmental group is now involved because they are concerned about conservation issues in "Whistler’s backyard."

He also said the SLRD resolution could affect the body’s credibility during the Sea-to-Sky LRMP process that is just getting underway.

"This could put the whole LRMP process in jeopardy," he said. "I think it’s sad and unfortunate that they’re basing their decisions on opinions instead of fact."