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Tourism sector to present map to LRMP table

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Councillor Ken Melamed said he hoped the province would listen hard to the tourism seat at the table, particularly in light of the premier’s promise to double tourism receipts in B.C.

"We all know very well that this is what distinguishes us from other competitive resorts," said Melamed.

The boundaries of the map, which was created from studies of wildlife viewing, fishing maps and whitewater inventories among others, have still to be refined.

"We’re pleased with the progress that we’re making," she said, adding that they must stay vigilant over the next four months as the LRMP process wraps up.

Denbak hopes to convince the other sectors at the table of the value of the tourism map so that it can go forward as one plan to the government to be endorsed.

Although the tourism perspective is well-developed, the conservation sector, represented by Whistler’s Johnny Mikes on behalf of AWARE, says the Sea to Sky LRMP has so far been unproductive.

Although the provincial government made it clear from the beginning that the 1996 Protected Areas Strategy – which protected some 22 per cent of the Squamish Forest District in parks – was not open to negotiation at the LRMP table, Mikes feels that the process could have been more open to other forms of conservation.

"The last meeting (on Nov. 22) went reasonably well, but it’s clear we may have underestimated the differences between sectors," said Mikes. "There is some scepticism and dissatisfaction with the process. Some sectors are not confident with the quality of the product and that it will be potentially useful."

Part of the problem is that some sectors represented at the table don’t want to negotiate until various provincial issues can be resolved. For example, the timber industry recently saw the Forest Practices Code replaced by the Forest and Ranges Practices Act, which reduced the industry’s regulatory burdens. In addition, forestry is waiting to see what happens with the provincial government’s proposed Working Forest Legislation.

"Right now the government is saying that 100 per cent of the annual allowable cut (for the Squamish Forest District) should be cut. We can’t really say if that’s right or wrong because we haven’t had a negotiation on what the end allowable cut for forestry should be. Maybe it doesn’t make sense for other sectors, but that’s not even part of the talks," said Mikes.

The problem, he said, is that the group is working with a tight timeline, and that time is almost up. The round table process got underway in early 2002, and most of work for many sectors is expected to wrap up by March of 2004.