Province seeks feedback on backcountry access issues

The provincial government is holding local consultation sessions with an eye to reviewing and updating existing backcountry areas closed to motor vehicle traffic.

The objective is to gather feedback from the public on established Motor Vehicle Closed Areas (known as Access Management Areas) and Motor Vehicle Hunting Closed Areas (MVHCA) in order to find an appropriate balance for wildlife, public and enforcement values.

Sessions in the region are currently scheduled for Elkford, Jaffray, Cranbrook, Fernie and Sparwood.

The first meeting started today in Elkford at the Community Conference Centre, but more are planned throughout the week in the region.

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka welcomed the consultation sessions but lamented the fact that they’re occurring during UBCM — a provincial conference where municipal politicians gather to meet with cabinet ministers and senior provincial government staff to advocate for local issues.

“What’s concerning is here we go again, with consultation or what the NDP’s definition of consultation is,” Shypitka said. “Here’s something that’s really important, especially to residents of the Kootenays, on accessing the backcountry for things like hunting and trapping and all these other good things that we do and yet they’re holding these last minute meetings with no real outreach as to when these meetings are even held.

“They’re all happening during the day during daytime hours, working hours and elected officials can’t be present for them because they’re all down here in Vancouver.”

It’s no secret backcountry access and wildlife management are common areas of concern for Kootenay residents.

“Any restriction is tough for any backcountry user to handle, but we all understand there has to be a balance and we’ve got to play nice in the sandbox,” said Shypitka. “…if it’s wildlife issues, hunters are the best conservationists around — they want to make sure that hunting and opportunities are there and therefore they need to ensure that ecosystem restoration and proper land-use management is in place.”

Times and locations for upcoming open houses this week are as follows:

Tuesday September 24, 2019

Location and Time:

Jaffray Community Hall (Jaffray Village Loop Road) from 10 am-4 pm

Wednesday September 25, 2019

Location and Time:

Cranbrook Manual Training Center (1212 2nd Street North) from 10 am-4 pm

Thursday September 26, 2019

Location and Time:

Fernie Chamber of Commerce (102 Commerce Rd) from 10 am-4 pm

Golden Lions Den (70 819 Park Ave) from 12 pm -5 pm

Friday September 27, 2019

Location and Time:

Sparwood Chamber of Commerce (30 141 A Aspen Dr) from 10 am-4 pm

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