Back Country Tenure Proposal Action Plan Meeting – Friday June 29/18

submitted by the Citizens Information Ad-Hoc Group (Retallack Proposal)

ACTION PLAN MEETING, 7PM ON FRIDAY, JUNE 29 AT THE CRAWFORD BAY HALL! COME WITH YOUR RESEARCH, QUESTIONS, LETTERS AND IDEAS! 

At the community meeting on June 22, 2018, nearly 70 people were in attendance and the clear majority of those attendees were vocally opposed to the tenure proposal as it stands today. They have decided to begin a letter-writing campaign and have a follow up meeting to create sub-committees of research groups to look into issues with the proposal and get feedback in to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources by the July 13 deadline. What follows is what was created out of that meeting in regards to “talking points” for letter-writers.

For those writing letters, please send them to the following addresses:

Christine Lohr (FLNR Land Authorizations, Kootenay Boundary): 1.250.365.8627  Christine.Lohr@gov.bc.ca

Doug Donaldson (Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) 1.250.387.6240  FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca

Rob McCrory (FLNR Tenures Officer) 1.250.825.1106  Rob.McRory@gov.bc.ca

Michelle Mungall, MLA Nelson/Creston – 250.354.5944 – michelle.mungall.mla@leg.bc.ca

Applicant (Retallack) ID: 1155768 BC Ltd)

Letter Writing Points Regarding Retallack Backcountry Proposal

  1. Impact on wildlife (wildsight.ca for comprehensive points)
  2. Helicopter traffic – sound pollution – disruption.
  3. Lack of positive economic impact for East Shore businesses (pushing out visitors to the region, locals moving away as well). There is currently no known partnering with East Shore businesses, nor anything indicating that guests will do anything other than fly right over us into the tenure. If ground transportation is provided by Retallack from airports to helicopter sites, where is there any indication of local businesses profiting? The ripple effect, economically, of loss of tourists and locals moving out due to the impact is potentially very big.
  4. Risk of fire/environmental hazards (helicopters, fuel caches, traffic). With the understanding that they would be required to carry a minimum 5 million dollar liability on the property, who is responsible for expenses above and beyond that? What are the tax payers beholden to?
  5. Impact on flora and fauna, watersheds, drainages
  6. Back country conflicts (although tenure doesn’t mean exclusive rights, crossing paths with downhill mountain bikers, etc, can lead to problems/accidents)
  7. What kind of employment – management plan says 125+ jobs but who will be hired? What percentage locally? What kind of guarantee? How will they be licensed/certified/trained? What kind of jobs? How long? Local builders, developers? Is there any guarantee of jobs created staying local if the tenure sells or is transferred?
  8. Lack of clarity in proposal – non-defined terms.
    1. Is it really 36 people max per day at full capacity, or potentially over 200/day in summer between South and West zones as the management plan currently indicates in its wording?
    2. What kind of follow-up, assessment process will be implemented?
    3. What kind of flight paths/elevations will helicopters be flying at? What will be the lengths of these flights? What kind of helicopters will you use? Will those change as the capacity builds? What is your emergency response procedure for spills, contaminations, fires? Staging areas versus heliports and the legal licensing for each…
  9. Transfer of tenure – since the tenure can, at any time, be sold, transferred or purchased, how do we guarantee not having a major conglomerate/corporation come in and expand upon the existing business or do something even more damaging?
  10. Length of time and scope of project – 70,992 hectares and 45 years is huge.
  11. Dissention in partner group – members of the Lower Kootenay Band have publicly said that they are not in favour of this project.
  12. A final point might be the importance of extending the input deadline much further and/or putting a moratorium on the project as outlying communities (Ainsworth/Balfour/Queens Bay/Kaslo) are all impacted communities who have not been consulted with yet.

Additional points drafted by Luanne Armstrong:

Reasons why the proposal by Retallack should not go forward:

Such a long lease opens the possibility of the backcountry Crown Land in BC becoming commodified. Such a long tenure means that if evidence arises of negative impact on the community and on wildlife, there is not a process for the Retallack business to be mitigated, changed, or cancelled.

People have almost no idea of what the the actual plan might look like. There so many unanswered questions. At the community meetings that have been held, people have long lists of unanswered questions. Retallack has not come to the community with concrete information as to the propoosed plan The only information that has been made is on a hard to access government website. Neither Retallack nor anyone from any government agency or from Yaqan Nukiy has come to the community and made themselves open and available with specific informaton of the impact of this propososal on this community. In fact, it is hard to remark on specific issues with this proposal because it is so vague.

The east shore is a small community with a large population of summer visitors and a much smaller population in the winter. A large percentage of the community are retired people but this also means that the community is a close and active one; lots of community dinners, meeting, recreational activities an especially, people here enjoy the outdoors and value their relationships with animals, birds and plants. Such issues as noise, intruson, lack of access to the back country, will be far more likely to hurt the economy and the much valued ambience of the east shore. Many houses will undoubtedly go up for sale and people thinking of moving here will probably change their minds.

The east shore is presently served by small narrow road that tends to be very crowded in the summer. There is also a tendency in both the summer and winter for the ferry to be very overcrowded. The ferry is an issue that is also very presently very divisive and troubling to our community. Crowded roads in summer and poorly serviced roads in winter means that people can often be delayed from doctor’s appointments, or jobs or other necessessities.

There are no studies that have been made available to this community of the impact in othet places of heli-skiing. Studies need to be done of the impact of this development on traffic or on summer visitors who encounter crowded roads, noise from helicopters, over crowded beaches, and lack of access to Kootenay Lake, which is already a big issue, both for locals and for tourists.

Where are the studies that need to be done of the impact of heli-skiing, heli-mountain biking, and numerous other human activities on wildlife, and ecology. Studies need to be done especially on the impact of road building, and trail building on such endangered species as grizzlies, wolverines, cougars, and mountain goats. It is known that the mountain goat population in the South Purcells has declined by forty percent. It is known that wolverines are highly sensitive to noise and will abandon their dens and their kits and leave under the impact of noise. It is known that the high alpine is an area that does not respond well to a lot of traffic. It takes a long time to recover and too much human impact can destroy it.

There has been no information given about the actual footprint of the propoised lodge, of parking, of sewage disposal, of housing for servers, of lights and noise. There is virtually no rental housing on the east shore. The beach where the proposed lodge is perhaps going to be located is a much loved and much used beach by both locals and tourists. There are almost no public beaches on the east shore and the ones that exist are under heavy demand. This proposed development will certainly increase the crowding, noise, litter and partying on the few local beaches left.

The actual nature of the agrreement with the Lower Kootenay Band is a mystery. From what the community has been told by members of the Lower Kootenay Band is that the larger membership of the band either doesn’t know or has had no chance to express any opinion about this proposal. There is no information about what the larger Ktunaxa nation knows about this proposal. However, given the large Ktunaxa resistance against the Jumbo Resort development application, and their expressed belief in the grizzly bear being sacred, it is hard to believe that they would support this proposal. The grizzly population in the entire South Purcells, including the grizzlies in Jumbo, will be highly impacted by this proposal. It is well known that griizzlies hate roads so having 161 kilometres of new trails build within grizzly territory will undoubtedly have a huge impact on grizzlies.
This proposal does not fit, in any way, with the Ktunaxa creed and belief that they are the protectors of the land in the Kootenays, that this was a task that given to them by the creator, Napika, that their elders have told them in particular to protect the grizzly beats, which are the sacred animals of the Ktunaxa spirituality.

Helicopters are high users of fuel and high producers of pollution. British Columbia is supposed to be attempting to conttol fuel emissions. Dr. James Hansen, of NASA, in the US, predicted in 1988 that the world would feel the impact of global warming. According to the New York Times, (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/23/opinion/sunday/james-e-hansen-climate-global-warming.html) his predictions of global warming then, have been met and even surpassed by what actual warming is happening. To put a high energy consuming industry into a relatively unspoiled environment like the South Purcells is contrary to all the best advice of climatologists and other scientists concerned about the future of the earth.

The commodification of nature is a phenomenon that is being pushed world wise. It is having huge impacts on global wildlife populations. In effect, the east shore and its wildlfe, are being asked to be a sort of sacrifice zone; so a few very wealthy people can recreate in the back country of our home.
Everywhere on the planet, animal and fish populations are declining. Here are just a few statistics: land-dwelling wildlife species have declined by 40% since 1970. Marine animal populations have fallen by 40% overall. Bird populations have been reduced by about 20-25%.Freshwater animal populations have plummeted by 75% since 1970. Insect populations have also declined dramatically.
According the environmental group, Wildsight, the BC government does not take the impact on animals and ecology into its decisions about such proposals as the one Retallack has made. This lack of care has led to the slow extincition of the caribou in both the Purcells and the Selkirk mountain ranges. Shooting wolves from helicopters has obviously done nothing to slow this decline.
Now the BC government has announed that they want to save caribou and caribou habitat. Why then, put a high use, high energy use, high noise pollution use into an area where caribou could possibly have a chance to recover?

Mr. Rob Louie, a lawyer in Vancouver and a member of the Lower Kootenay Band has written a public memorandum on this proposal. He writes:

There has been a failure to adequately consult with the Lower Kootenay Band members as this matter affects the Lower Kootenay Band’s rights, interests and title to the area proposed by this partnership.

The starting point in law is that a duty of consultation is owed to the Lower Kootenay Band members – not the Lower Kootenay Band Council. As you know, the Band Council and the Band membership are two distinct legal entities pursuant to the Indian Act. Moreover, the Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) does is a provincial non-profit society that does not have any authority or standing to speak on behalf of the Lower Kootenay Band members.

Simply put, the Lower Kootenay Band was taken by surprise by the announcement of a “partnership” between Retallack and the Lower Kootenay Band Council.

The Band Council has the capacity to enter into contracts and agreements unrelated to land; however, the Band Council does not have the power to negotiate away the Band members’ rights, interests and title to any area of their traditional territory, such as the area proposed by Retallack and the Band Council. An infringement will take place if Retallack is granted their proposal to the traditional territory of the Lower Kootenay Band.

For greater clarity, the Lower Kootenay Band has not consented to relinquishing, transferring or surrendering any part of their territory that Retallack wishes to claim as its own.

Finally, there is spiritual significance in and around the area that Retallack wishes to claim as its own.

Mr. Louie also asks the following questions:

“(a) Will the proposed tenure be allowed to operate 365 days of the year?

(b) How many lodges will be built?

(c) Within the proposal it is states that it hire over 125 employees. What percentage will be hired locally? The addendum states that priority will be given to First Nations applicants. Will Lower Kootenay Band members take priority over other First Nation applicants?

(d) The proposal states you have a wildlife mitigation strategy in place. Will they report directly to you, to the Lower Kootenay Band Council, neither or both?

(e) Retallack hired registered biologist, Ron J D’eon to do an “Impact Report”. Will his report be made public?

(f) What is the maximum allowance for clients per day for both zones? There is confusion about the actual people per day when reporting it as client days.

(g) What is the waste plan for human refuse including human waste and garbage?

(h) How many helicopters will Retallack buy/rent/lease for this operation? What kind of helicopters will be used? How many flights per day? Will Retallack provide compensation pursuant to the law of nuisance to those residents affected by thehelicopters?

(i) Where are the exact locations of the Heli staging pads?

(k) Why does Retallack want to expand their business?

(l) Why have Retallack and the Lower Kootenay Band partnered in this business venture?

(m) Has there been any money transferred from you or any promises made by you to the Lower Kootenay Band Chief and/or Lower Kootenay Band Council?

(n) Has the Lower Kootenay Band Chief received a “signing bonus” from Retallack for agreeing to the partnership agreement?

(o) There is a serious and deep division at the Lower Kootenay Band. The Lower Kootenay Band Chief and two Lower Kootenay Band Councillors may be removed from the Band Council imminently for breaching their fiduciary duty to the Band members and for breaching their Oath of Office, as well. If these elected officials are removed, will this terminate the partnership agreement?

(p) Why did Retallack fail to show up to a consultation meeting with the Lower Kootenay Band on June 5, 2018, and did Retallack advise you that they would not show up on June 5, 2018 to this consultation meeting?

(q) Has Retallack directed Lower Kootenay Band consultant Curtis Wullum to discredit me in this approval process? I have witnesses and evidence that Curtis Wullum, while acting in the capacity as a Lower Kootenay Band consultant in this matter, has made several deliberate and calculated defamatory attacks on me as he campaigns for Retallack.”

These are questions I am sure everyone on the East Shore would like to have answers to as well.

This project is huge, overwhelmingly large and thus, totally unsuuitable for the area in which s proposed and the many communities to be affected, on both the west side and the east side of the lake. People in Argenta, Kaslo, Ainsworth, Balfour, Kootenay Bay , Nelson, Crawford Bay, Grey Creek, Boswell and Creston, are deeply concerned and angry about this proposal. What will happen if there is a fuel spill into a local creek and thus inevitably into Kootenay Lake?? We already have an example of the damage a fuel spill can do in one small creek (Lemon Creek.) Who will be responsible? Who will clean it up? What happens if there is a forest fire started by Retallac?. Who has responsibility and liability? Kootenay Lake is already under pressure global warming and other stressors. Fish populations, in particular, Kokanee salmon are dropping. How will noise, fumes, extra boat traffic, and possible fuel spills affect the presently pristine water of Kootenay Lake?

In summary, to allow such a huge project with so many and such a wide range of unknown impacts on the people, the wildlife, the ecology, the economy, of a relatively undamaged and still recovering from previous impact, ecological area is reckless, irresponsible, bad governance, and in bad faith with the people and communities of this area.

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About ingrid

Ingrid has been the owner and editor of The East Shore Mainstreet newspaper for more than twelve years since 2002. She lives and works out of her home in Gray Creek alongside her husband Juergen and children Zoe and Luka.

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