Broken Group PERMANENTLY CLOSED during fall/winter/spring

alexsidles

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Jan 10, 2009
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Seattle WA
JohnAbercrombie said:
In years past it was clear that a permit was required to camp in the BGI during the May 1 - Oct 1 'summer season', but a permit was not required in the 'winter' season
Are you certain a permit was not formerly required in winter? According to Canada’s current national parks regulations SOR/80-127 (2010):

No person shall use or occupy or reside or camp on any public land in a Park ... unless he is​
(a) the holder of a valid camping permit authorizing him to use that land for that purpose; or​
(b) a member of a group in respect of which a camping permit has been issued and is still valid.​

The current regulation is 10 years old, and I’ve confirmed that previous versions of the regulation dating back at least as far as 2006 contained the same requirement to obtain a camping permit.

If Parks Canada wasn’t giving out camping permits for the winter season in the past, then it would seem camping in winter wasn’t ever allowed. This would also be consistent with the email from Parks staffer Helen Davies, who wrote, “This is not a new decision.”

Is it possible this is all just a misunderstanding? Maybe kayakers who thought winter camping was allowed (and even permit-free!) were simply mistaken?

Alex
 

AlphaEcho

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Quadra Island, BC
Is it possible this is all just a misunderstanding?
Absolutely it could be. It's also true that ambiguities often exist in policy that allow for give and take. Sometimes the ambiguity is baked in. Sometimes it arises naturally. The regulations you cite may have been brought in recently, after the informal convention was established.

What is absolutely clear is that Parks Canada at one time did consult stakeholders and maintained good working relations. At some point that stopped and we now have a situation that would probably have been avoided had those relations continued.
 
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AM

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The current regulation is 10 years old, and I’ve confirmed that previous versions of the regulation dating back at least as far as 2006 contained the same requirement to obtain a camping permit.
That sounds like a reasonable deduction, Alex, but I did a course in April 2011 in the BGI run by SKILS, so I think we have to assume that the permit process at that time did allow for off-season camping. SKILS is a very by-the-book organization, so they would not be running courses in the Park if it were not allowed.

I do not favour this development at first glance. While I am a big supporter of the active management of parks resources at both the federal and provincial levels, including the requirement for permits and reservations when warranted by high user demand, I believe that the guiding principle should be providing, not denying, access. So if the reason for the closure is safety, then that is not sufficient. Off-season users are usually more skilled in the backcountry, so I really can’t see how their safety is compromised by not having rangers on site. Let’s be honest: the rangers I’ve met are no more skilled in wilderness first aid and seamanship than the people I know who visit the BGI in March.

If, however, there is a problem with infrastructure, I am more sympathetic. I know, for example, that the composting toilets in the BGI are regularly abused by users who deposit trash in them. The rangers end up having to fish that garbage out (a terrible job, I imagine). If that same behaviour is happening in the off-season, when no ranger is there to clean up the mess, I can see a Parks manager deciding that a closure is the easiest way to avoid mess. But if that is the case, as per JF’s email to John, then we need to know those details so that we can all understand the decision-making process. Again, though, I would bet that the off-season users are not a problem, so we really need to see the data.

So instead of writing the people listed with a general complaint, perhaps we should all write and ask specifically for the data points that drove the decision.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

Hairygrump

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Aug 26, 2019
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Calgary, AB
Sadly, you guys are pretty much up against a brick wall with Parks. I spent 17 years living in Jasper National Park and watched as access slowly disappeared based on risk management or ecological integrity. Once they’ve rescinded access, it’s nearly impossible to restore it regardless of what data or arguementa you provide them.
 

btech

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Nov 12, 2013
Messages
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Here is a response from Karen Haugen, Parks Canada:

Thank you for taking the time to write to myself and Dave Tovell to share your concerns with respect to accessing the Broken Group Islands in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve outside of the operational season.

While, in the past, individuals or commercial operators may have brought groups to the Broken Group Islands outside of the operational season. Parks Canada has not officially offered commercial outfitters or individuals the option of camping in the Broken Group Islands during the annual closure period. The camping facilities are not serviced, and visitor safety services are significantly reduced. Visitors are asked, therefore, to plan overnight trips to the Broken Group Islands within the May to September season, when the reservation system is in place, the Parks Canada Visitor Safety Team is prepared to respond to potential incidents, and the Tseshaht BeachKeepers Program is active.

Please note, this is not a new decision. However, it seems that this information may not have been communicated clearly. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further, as we value your feedback. Over the coming months, we will be holding virtual stakeholder engagement sessions related to the Broken Group Islands. On December 10th, the park reserve hosted a stakeholder engagement session to hear directly from business operators in the park reserve related to 2021 operational season, a continuation of this session will happen in the New Year. Another engagement session that will be occurring is related to the visitor offer and visitor season for the Broken Group Islands.

Once we have the dates and times identified, Dave Tovell and Queenie Lai will be sending out the information for these virtual stakeholder engagement sessions. We hope you will join these sessions to partake in the discussion and provide you valuable input.

Parks Canada is working with First Nations and surrounding communities to reduce the possible risk of COVID-19 transmission to these communities. We continue to monitor and adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We, therefore, ask that visitors refrain from visiting the Broken Group Islands at this time.

Again, my thanks to you for taking the time to write and share your concerns and suggestions.

ƛ̓eko ƛ̓eko - Thank you - Merci

Karen
*************************************************
Tleeh-is-a-tuuk-aq-suup / Karen Haugen
Superintendent
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Box 280, Ucluelet, BC V0R 3A0
karen.haugen@canada.ca
Tel: 250-726-3510 | Cell: 250-534-9012 | Fax: 250-726-3520
 

mick_allen

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In this time of covid with the restricted Broken Group access points, it is more awkward to argue for access. But in the abstract, if the park resource is not being utilized for minimal use, there is real cause for concern - and would especially be so if there were easy and open access locations.
But it is obvious that the Broken Group in off season itself [and any others] is outdoors, is sparsely occupied, and is the epitome of situations that are the safest to prevent covid spread.

And as previously noted, 'Parks Canada Visitor Safety Teams' are not anything that a device equipped typical paddler or visitor would typically require in highly localized situations: certainly it is never a concern when we visit the myriad of other locations in BC. 'Parks Canada Visitor Safety Teams'??? my god!

Anyway, something to keep one's eye on. Really interesting all the info that has been found. I actually didn't believe it at first.
 

alexsidles

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Seattle WA
Not to pour fuel on the fire here, but this whole conversation got me wondering what other "secret rules" might apply in Pacific Rim NPR. Lo and behold, I came across this little gem:
  • Motorized and non-motorized vessels, including kayaks, are not permitted to land anywhere within the West Coast Trail Unit.
Uh-oh! No kayaks at all between Bamfield and Point Renfrew? That means a mandatory 40-mile (64 km) open-water passage for kayakers circumnavigating VI!

Good luck with that, paddlers! Even Freya Hoffmeister camped not once but twice along this stretch. She also took a layover day at the second campsite due to conditions involving what she called "massive monster breakers," which she described as "intimidating" and "deadly."

The no-kayaks rule is listed under Coronavirus Impacts, so hopefully it is just a temporary restriction. However, the other coronavirus restrictions , such as no-hiking and no-camping, come with assurances that the restrictions are temporary. The no-kayaks restriction does not. In light of what we're learning about off-season camping in the BGI, it might be a good idea to check with Parks Canada to see if this represents a new, permanent closure.

Alex
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Bureaucrats making decisions in the absence of data, evidence, and user needs.
The 'default' for bureaucrats is to discourage recreational visitors into the back country. It's a lot easier to 'manage' a Park if those pesky humans are excluded. When did a Parks Canada or Parks BC manager ever get a promotion by increasing back country 'traffic? It just increases costs.

You can see this again and again (if you are paying attention). Juan de Fuca trail needs maintenance? Solution = close it (but a different department can allow royalty-earning clear cuts within a few metres of the park boundary).

Look at the Parks Canada 'Objectives' (aka Mission Statement) - getting the public out into the back country isn't on the list.

Back in the olden days (60s-70s) there was an idea that people will only defend (and pay for) wilderness/environmental protection if they know what it is, so it was important to get people 'out there' so they could realize the benefits of wilderness, and experiencing wilderness in making us 'truly human'. Thus the whole 'Envirnomental Education' movement of those days. Now it's all about reducing liability and costs - let those kids stay in the classroom and make paintings of salmon and bears.

It all 'makes the wheels go round'...What truly environmentally-aware citizenry would be happy to double the population (of Canada and the world) every 50 years?
 

AlphaEcho

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Quadra Island, BC
Are there any other incentives then (beyond indoctrinating a future public) for Parks Canada to gear their services towards public access?
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Are there any other incentives then (beyond indoctrinating a future public) for Parks Canada to gear their services towards public access?
For Parks Canada, it's all about preserving the Parks from human interference.

Counting (and charging) everybody who passes through Banff or Jasper NP while driving through, often without stopping, as 'park visitors' helps to keep the numbers looking good.
 

AlphaEcho

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Quadra Island, BC
it's all about preserving the Parks from human interference.
That seems to me to be quite broken. These are not pristine ecosystems that survive independently of what's going on outside them.

Yes, it's clear therr is a boundary there. There are many examples of clear-cuts that run right up to park borders and no farther. It's a false sense of security though. Especially now that park service budgets at all levels have been slashed.

There has to be some way to establish the role of recreational users in parks as contributing to the value of parks while also maintaining the health of the ecosystems therein.
 
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