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Pacific Rim Problem-No stopping in Pacific Rim Park Reserve

There are lots of reasons to break rules. Emergencies are one. Covid time isn't another. These have been extraordinary times, akin to war measures from eons ago. In this case, to make it worse, they planned their stays and deliberately ignored the rules. Did others do the same? Absolutely. Does that make this right? Nope, not one whit. Was the fine fair? Dunno, don't care.
 
Contrary to what the Parks officials are spouting, the rules have absolutely nothing to do with COVID (or FN sensibilities, probably).

"Legal' circumnavigations of Vancouver Island are for most paddlers, impossible. "Oh, whatever..."
 
It's similar paddling along the North Coast Trail or any BC marine parks, you need to pay for camping but no need of reservation. As far as paddling along the West coast Trail, every year my friend and I wait Oct 1 (trail closure) and go for 3 or 4 days paddling along the south portion out of Port Renfrew. Just have to wait for the perfect weather window and it's not too hard in early October. We've had some beautiful weather in the past and nobody there.
Last August I took a group of friends paddling in the Broken Group and we had to reserved every campsite and carry the pass, but because the park was operating at 50% capacity, we were able to be more flexible about the sites reservation. We only had to show our pass once.
Not easy to see all these new regulations when one has been used for over 30 years to pretty well paddle anywhere without restrictions, but we just have to accept and adapt and hope it helps to preserve this magic place that is the BC coastline with still plenty of deserted beaches to pitch your tent and catch the perfect surf breaker...
 

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It's similar paddling along the North Coast Trail or any BC marine parks, you need to pay for camping but no need of reservation. As far as paddling along the West coast Trail, every year my friend and I wait Oct 1 (trail closure) and go for 3 or 4 days paddling along the south portion out of Port Renfrew.
That could be risky. See post #33 in this discussion thread.
 
Thanks for the post #33 info. I wasn't aware that we couldn't paddle along the West Coast Trail during the off season (Oct 7 to April 30th).
We've been doing the South section in mid October for the past 7 years, and never have we encountered a park ranger. We've always launched from the Gordon River and paddled down by the Parks Canada office that is always closed at that time of the year. Maybe it's different towards Bamfield.
Here's a photo of paddling near Camper Bay on a beautiful mid October day (Bonilla Point in the distance).
By the way Renfrew to Jordan River is just as beautiful and you don't need reservation. Better off season too and the landings can be a bit more challenging.
 

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The West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation put out a terrific treatise in December 2020, “Guide to Coastal and Ocean Protection Law in British Columbia.” The treatise is primarily concerned with the establishment of protected zones, ecological reserves, parks, and the like, but it also discusses some of the issues we’ve touched on here with regard to use of the tidelands (or, in British Columbia parlance, “the foreshore”).

The treatise affirms that, in general, the tidelands are Crown land. “In BC the foreshore is usually provincial Crown land, regulated under the Land Act…” Id. at 29.

And, in happy news, the province has chosen to allow transient recreation, including camping, on Crown land. Id. at 30 (citing British Columbia, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Land Use Policy: Permission, File: 11000-00/PERM (8 May, 2014)). The province’s 8 May 2014 policy explicitly says that “Any person may camp on Crown land for up to 14 consecutive calendar days.”

However, there are many important caveats. First, the tidelands of federal or reserve lands are not provincial Crown land. Id. at 30. This is where our friends the paddleboarders got into trouble on the West Coast Trail Unit.

Second, there is a small number of “water lots” in BC where the tidelands are privately owned, although it is no longer provincial policy to grant these. Id., n. 127.

Third, the province can adopt site-specific regulations for the land it controls. For example, in provincial parks or ecological reserves, the province often prohibits camping, or relegates camping to a specific area. Id. at 176–177. A provincial park manager would be acting well within the scope of her powers to prohibit camping on the tidelands in the park.

Fourth, the province can grant licenses to use the tidelands for activities like building docks or running shellfish operations. Id. at 30. These licenses have the potential to exclude the public—although not every license need be exclusive. (Folks may remember the Northeast Bay shellfish farm scandal on Texada Island from three years ago.)

Fifth, local jurisdictions have the power to regulate activities in the tidelands (and the surface of the water!) through zoning. Id. at 30. “Within a zone, a local government may regulate the use of land, the density of the use of land, the siting, size, and dimensions of uses permitted on the land, and the location of the uses on the land.” Id. at 247. “On the coast, local government boundaries usually extend several hundred metres seaward of the high water mark … Zoning can also be used to designate land for conservation uses.” Id. at 248. The treatise gives examples of local by-laws in the tidelands restricting long-term moorage, restricting the construction of private docks, limiting any uses to “trails and educational and interpretive signage and displays,” and limiting any uses to “mooring, floating docks, and boat launching.” Id. at 249–251.

Finally, there is the lingering issue of Indigenous title. “Indigenous nations have jurisdiction over foreshore lands within their territories.” Id. 30. In cases where Indigenous title has been delineated by treaty or recognized by court order, it is easy to tell where the Indigenous tidelands are. However, Indigenous title is not created or granted by treaty or court order—it exists independently of those instruments, although it may be modified by those instruments. Thus, there are many parts of the coast where Indigenous nations have Indigenous title over the tidelands, but it’s difficult to say with certainty where the boundaries of those lands are or what the scope of Indigenous title entails. (And the boundaries and scope of the title may end up being modified by treaty or court order anyway.) The treatise specifically notes that the Heiltsuk, Haida, and Dzawada’enuxw Nations on the Pacific coast “have filed Aboriginal title claims over their marine territories.” And again, their title exists independent of the filing of the claim. The claim is just to compel the Crown to recognize the boundary and scope of the title. Indigenous title is a real title—it is distinguished from other, more familiar forms of title only by the difficulty of recognizing the boundaries and scope of Indigenous title.

All this is to say, it’s inaccurate to claim, as I hear many kayakers do (including certain guidebook authors), that you can camp anywhere in BC below the mean high-water mark. The reality is much more complicated…and much less friendly to kayakers.

Alex
 
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I just saw this discussion and thought it might be helpful to set the record straight on constitutional rights in Canada. As you can see in subsection 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms below, Canadians and visitors, have a fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression:

side note - even when the opinions are not based on facts and the expressions are distasteful, as long as they are lawful. We are currently "torture testing" those rights and freedoms in Canada as I write this, and thus far, the espoused freedoms are holding up; to the chagrin of most Canadians. Even though many of those doing the "torture testing" have likely never read the Charter.

But I digress. Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Canadian Constitution, though it is called freedom of expression in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

1 The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Fundamental Freedoms

2 Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
  • (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
  • (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
  • (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
  • (d) freedom of association.

Now on to some editorializing of my own. Thus, in my understanding of Canadian charter law, these fellows might have a pretty good shot at winning an appeal of the "gag order", as Alex puts it, to the Provincial Court of Appeal . See section 1 of the Charter above. The grounds for appeal might be that the judge erred in issuing the order, based on the argument that it does not fall within the "reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." Of course, that would mean that the accused kayakers would have to decide to appeal that order, which is probably unlikely.

I find it quite intriguing that there are often discussions of law on this forum. I suspect that this is true because we are all adventurers, and love our freedoms, be they legal, societal or natural. After all, the fewer folk that you have handy by, the more of your freedom you can express.

Cheers, Rick
Before anyone goes out and hires a lawyer, it should be noted that the accused all pleaded guilty to the charges and they and the Crown made a "joint submission" on sentencing. That means that all agreed on what the judge should do, including the ban on publication and the apology. Rarely would a judge deviate from such a submission. Can't argue a Charter rights violation in those circumstances.
 
An unrelated beef I’m having with BC Parks reminded me of this thread about the West Coast Trail Unit of Pacific Rim National Park. Since September 2020, the West Coast Trail website has carried the following notice:
  • Motorized and non-motorized vessels, including kayaks, are not permitted to land anywhere within the West Coast Trail Unit.
Always in the past, that notice has been listed under the heading, “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impacts.” Up-thread, you can read some of my disputatious questioning of the park’s visitor experience manager as to why the park’s coronavirus closure for hikers was lifted in 2021 but the coronavirus closure for kayakers remained in effect through 2022. Do kayakers spread the coronavirus more readily than hikers do? Or is there something else going on here? The visitor experience manager promised that Parks Canada and its First Nations partners in management were re-examining the issue and hoped to return to normal operations soon.

Well, I checked the website again today, and guess what? Not only does it still prohibit kayakers on the West Coast Trail, it no longer lists that prohibition under “Coronavirus Impacts.” Now it’s just listed under “Please Note.”

Is this a permanent closure? It’s starting to feel that way. And if so, then it’s no longer possible to circumnavigate Vancouver Island by kayak, as the West Coast Trail occupies some 70 linear kilometers of coastline - farther than most kayakers can paddle without a break.

I am opposed both to the content of this rule and to the seemingly dishonest way Parks Canada has smuggled it in. I don’t believe kicking out the kayakers (while allowing the hikers) was ever really about the coronavirus, and I am skeptical that they were ever really planning to restore kayaking to the park. I think they want kayakers gone forever but aren’t willing to say so out loud or tell us what their motivation is.

I can remember, when I was a kid, looking up to park rangers. I no longer do. When I see a ranger coming nowadays, I assume they’re coming to harass me. It gives me no satisfaction to feel this way about rangers, but I’ve just had too many disenchanting experiences.

Sorry for resurrecting an old, rant-filled thread. But I feel like dropping the coronavirus fig leaf is a new development. I’m tempted to ask Parks Canada what the new excuse is for banning kayakers, but I’m not sure I would believe their answer.

Alex
 
Sadly, I think Alex is describing a fairly common phenomenon, where COVID was used as cover to make changes that would otherwise have not been palatable. My own example: BC Parks no longer allows group camping at their Mount Seymour site, even though that location was heavily used by scout groups, schools, etc. Local, accessible, decent infrastructure. The excuse to close it down was COVID. The excuse to keep it closed? None given.

Cheers,
Andrew
 
It is a growing source of frustration for me that access to this province is continually being discouraged or denied to it's residents and visitors. Other than sending a polite but pointed email to an MLA or perhaps starting a petition, I don't see what other options there are other than trying to paddle the 70kms, failing, and either being rescued of going ashore and hoping you can talk your way out of a fine under some kind of 'safe harbour' claim. Unlikely to succeed.
 
Just anchor your kayak, after that you're only 'hiking' upland?
Alternatively, anchor and kayak camp. [I think a problem is that the water is technically in the park too]
 
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Just anchor your kayak, after that you're only 'hiking' upland?
Alternatively, anchor and kayak camp. [I think a problem is that the water is technically in the park too]
More seriously Mick, I know you don't speak officially for BCTMA now, but do you have any sense of whether they are or will be raising concerns about such decreased water access? Seems like it's right in their wheelhouse and mandate...
 
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I sent an email to Parks and got the following response:

There is a long-standing SUP order discussing this. (attached)

- NO LANDING: Maritime users, who do NOT make landfall, may transit through the park without a permit

- PADDLERS Requiring Overnight Stay:

o Contact park during trip-planning stage (As they are doing)

o Attend a ‘WCT Orientation’ - this can be attended in person or online

o Purchase Overnight Permit

o Travel from one end of the WCT to the other during the trip



Long story short, we do not promote this activity, however it is not reasonable to prohibit it. The average upper limit for an expert sea kayaker, on this type of journey, may travel between 20 to 40 Nautical miles (37-75km) in a day. As such, most Vancouver Island circumnavigations will generally require one nights stay.

So they're not prohibiting it but they do make it difficult. I haven't followed up to see if the permit is date specific as that would be another hurdle.
 
More seriously Mick, I know you don't speak officially for BCTMA now, but do you have any sense of whether they are or will be raising concerns about such decreased water access? Seems like it's right in their wheelhouse and mandate...
I don't think BCMTN is interested in increasing access for paddlers. It seems the opposite is true.
 
o Purchase Overnight Permit

Fees*
West Coast Trail Overnight Use Permit (per trip, per person): $160.00
Reservation Fee (per person): $25.75
National Park Entry Fee: Adult $10.50/day

 
A few years ago we were planning an overnight camp - an annual event - on Department of Conservation land (think national parks service) and after applying I was turned down. When I posted this on our network's (club, kind of) forum, I was contacted back channel by the guy who actually wrote the rules for them.

He pointed out that there was no law that supported their position, and he said that government departments often relied on the technique of 'B & B'.

Bullshit and Bluster!

Using that knowledge, and a copy of the relevant rules, the opposition melted away.

Maybe B & B is international!
 
So they're not prohibiting it but they do make it difficult. I haven't followed up to see if the permit is date specific as that would be another hurdle.

Good job, Pascal. I rescind my earlier criticism that Parks Canada is secretly banning kayaks or banning them under false pretenses. I’m glad they have allowed kayaks back into the park.

All that’s left now is to navigate the multiple permits, hundreds of dollars in fees, mandatory reservations, and orientation sessions! Couldn’t be simpler!

Alex
 
do you have any sense of whether they are or will be raising concerns about such decreased water access?
I'm sure it will have been discussed but because of the varying concerns will adopt a modest approach.

I'm not sure it would be worth it because of the difficult usage, but it sure begs for a comedic approach.
 
Good job, Pascal. I rescind my earlier criticism that Parks Canada is secretly banning kayaks or banning them under false pretenses. I’m glad they have allowed kayaks back into the park.

All that’s left now is to navigate the multiple permits, hundreds of dollars in fees, mandatory reservations, and orientation sessions! Couldn’t be simpler!

Alex

What's really frustrating to me is how much they obfuscate things to discourage the use. It's evident they would rather not have paddlers. Pay a fee, ugh, fine. Attend an orientation, at least it can be done online now.

It's like they're publically banning then but secretly tolerating some under very specific conditions. Were I to circumnavigate the island I might be tempted to push myself to transit the park without landing because of all the hassle. This would increase risk of incident, somewhat ironic given the trail was originally established to save lives.
 
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