Category 2 Open Burns Prohibited

from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development BC Wildfire Service


Category 2 open burns to be prohibited in Southeast

CASTLEGAR – Effective at noon (Pacific time) on Friday, July 6, 2018, Category 2 open burning will be prohibited throughout the Southeast Fire Centre’s jurisdiction.

This is in addition to the Category 3 open burning prohibition that was put in place on June 8, 2018. Both prohibitions will remain in place until further notice.

A Category 2 open burning prohibition does not allow:

* the burning of any material (piled or unpiled) larger than a campfire (i.e. no larger than 0.5 metres wide by 0.5 metres high)

* the burning of stubble or grass over an area smaller than 0.2 hectares

* the use of burn barrels or burn cages of any size or description

* the use of air curtain burners

* the use of sky lanterns

* the use of fireworks including firecrackers

* the use of binary exploding targets

The BC Wildfire Service is implementing this prohibition to help prevent wildfires and protect public safety. A poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online at:

Anyone conducting a Category 2 open burn anywhere within the Southeast Fire Centre must extinguish any such fire by the deadline. A map indicating the areas affected by this prohibition is available online at:

This prohibition applies to all public and private land unless specified otherwise, for example in a local government bylaw. Please check with local government authorities for any other restrictions before lighting any fire.

This prohibition does not apply to campfires that are smaller than a half-metre wide by a half-metre wide or to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.

Campfires should not be lit or kept burning during windy conditions. Anyone who lights a campfire must ensure that sufficient water, tools and people are on hand to contain it. Make sure that the fire is fully extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

The Southeast Fire Centre extends from the U.S. border in the south to Mica Dam in the north, and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east.

Report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation by calling 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to:

You can also follow the latest wildfire news:

* On Twitter:

* On Facebook:

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

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


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

Doug Donaldson (Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) 1.250.387.6240

Rob McCrory (FLNR Tenures Officer) 1.250.825.1106

Michelle Mungall, MLA Nelson/Creston – 250.354.5944 –

Applicant (Retallack) ID: 1155768 BC Ltd)

Letter Writing Points Regarding Retallack Backcountry Proposal

  1. Impact on wildlife ( 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, ( 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.

Information/Action Plan Meeting Regarding Back-Country Heli-Ski Proposal – TONIGHT!

Friday, June 22 at 7pm at the Crawford Bay Hall, join the Citizens Information Ad-Hoc Group (Retallack Proposal) to learn more about this proposal, ask further questions and discuss next steps.

All major players have been invited to this meeting – should they not be available at this meeting, there is talk about another meeting, hosted by Retallack and the Lower Kootenay Band in the coming days.

Retallack Purcell Range Back Country Proposal Community Meeting June 22nd

The information meeting concerning the Retallack Proposal (#1155768 B.C. Ltd) will occur Friday, June 22 2018 at 7pm at the Crawford Bay Hall.

Everyone Welcome. Please come with information, questions and concerns. Deadline for public input on the proposal is July 13, 2018.

For further info please contact Citizens Information Ad-Hoc Group (Carolyn Vanr at 250.505.3760 or

From Chris McNamara of Retallack,  Attached is our joint press release that provides an update on this project and next steps. Please be advised that presently there is no additional public meeting that is being scheduled by us for Crawford Bay next week. 

Lower Kootenay Band and Retallack Partnership Adventure Tourism Proposal Update

submitted at 11am, Friday, June 22nd – PRESS RELEASE

Creston, British Columbia, Canada – The Lower Kootenay Band (yaqan nuʔkiy) and Retallack wish to thank the public and user groups who have provided feedback thus far regarding their joint 50/50 adventure tourism partnership proposal within the Southern Purcell Mountains.

The proposed tenure area, located in the Ktunaxa Traditional Territory (Ktunaxa ʔamakʔis),encompasses a traditional connectivity corridor and trade route between the indigenous Ktunaxa peoples who have resided in the Kootenays since time immemorial.

The multiple use tenure proposes guided hiking, horseback riding, climbing and mountain biking in summer; and guided ski touring, heliskiing, mountaineering, snowshoeing and dogsledding in winter. The proposed tenure area is non-exclusive and will remain open to the public.

Based on feedback received to date, several amendments have been identified for future consideration to improve the application. To ensure that as much public and user group feedback as possible is considered, the proponents are currently awaiting the end of the provincial government public comment period on July 15, 2018 prior to publicly proposing any new amendments. Public comments may continue to be submitted via the government website at or also directly to the proponents at

After the conclusion of the public and government comment period, the proponents have committed to reviewing all directly received public comments or summary comments that are made available to the proponents by the Province. From there, the proponents are committed to identifying and proposing future project amendments. In particular, the amendments will reflect usage statistics and additional proposals to further reduce potential helicopter impacts to wildlife and local residents in surrounding communities.

When the review has been completed, any resulting new amendments (including new high  resolution maps) will be published alongside the project’s currently proposed management plan and maps located at

Locations and dates of any future public meetings in neighbouring communities will also be announced at that time.

About yaqan nuʔkiy (Lower Kootenay Band)
Historically and since time immemorial, the yaqan nuʔkiy were the original inhabitants of the Lower Kootenay area. The name yaqan nuʔkiy literally means “where the rock stands” and refers to an important place in the Creston Valley.

The yaqan nuʔkiy is one of six bands that make up the Ktunaxa Nation. The Traditional Territory of the Ktunaxa Nation covers approximately 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 square miles) within the Kootenay region of south-eastern British Columbia and historically included parts of Alberta, Montana, Washington and Idaho.

The people of yaqan nuʔkiy speak the Ktunaxa language which is one of the eleven original aboriginal language families in Canada. The language is an isolate and is not related to any other language in the world.

About Retallack
Retallack is a Kootenay-owned business based in Nelson, BC that provides world-class
backcountry catskiing, snowboarding and mountain biking adventures in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, Canada.

In addition to being a significant local employer, Retallack supports local business, suppliers and trades workers and also sponsors local public recreation and volunteer groups. Retallack assists with public trail and road maintenance and provides backcountry emergency response and rescue for members of the public, government, and other operators. Retallack is also the first operator in its industry to receive a prestigious 4-Green Key Eco-Rating for demonstrating “national industry
leadership and commitment to protecting the environment through wide ranging policies and practices.”


Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route Tourism Campaign Officially Launches

For Immediate Release: June 11th, 2018

 Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route Tourism Campaign Officially Launches

Year-long tourism campaign showcasing communities from Yahk to Riondel launches this June

The Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route, from Yahk-Kingsgate through to the Creston Valley and along the east shore of Kootenay Lake, isn’t just a highway connecting the west coast to the prairies of the east. The Route connects a network of people, businesses, and communities together to the lands we call home.  Between orchards and wineries, glass houses and glassy lakes, many locals have created a life for themselves as artisans and orchardists, restaurateurs and wine-makers, outdoor guides and health practitioners, proudly sharing our love for this land with the visitors who have discovered its charms.

At the newly opened Casey’s Community House on Tuesday, May 29th, The Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route tourism campaign officially launched with the unveiling of the campaign brand, website, guide, and social media channels to an audience of 50+ business and community members. The campaign is the results of nearly a year of hard work by the members of the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Tourism Advisory Committee (CVKL TAC) and thanks to the financial support of Destination BC, Columbia Basin Trust, The Regional District of Central Kootenay Electoral Areas A, B, C, and the Town of Creston.

The campaign is an new initiative of the communities from Yahk to Riondel, promoting the route as a prime tourism destination by highlighting our reputation as a hub for:

  • Arts & Culture,
  • Local Food & Wine,
  • Health & Wellness, and
  • Nature & Recreation

Similar to the International Selkirk Loop, the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route campaign showcases businesses, organizations, and attractions from Yahk to Riondel related to these four themes. By using the campaign’s mobile-friendly website, social media pages, or just grabbing a print guide, visitors will then be able to tour artisan’s shops, cafes, trails, vineyards, markets, sights and trails at their own pace and discovering the many attractions that truly make it the magical area it is known for.

And the campaign isn’t just for visitors, but locals alike! Be sure to check out the new website at:  where you can explore the “What to Do” section and digital map for information on all the great activities that can be enjoyed in our area. Or if you’re looking for inspiration for the weekend read the Suggested Itineraries section or Blog to help plan your day trip. Finally, if you have an event coming up, let us help you promote it on the websites’ interactive Events Calendar.

Most importantly help us share the love and local pride for the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake route by using the hashtag #routeconnected to share your pictures, and videos of your experiences on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest account @ CVKLRoute.

Also, be sure to keep your eyes out for the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route Print Guide-Map, which includes participating business listings, a great map of the area, Q&A interviews with local businesses, and suggested itineraries for Foodies, Outdoor Enthusiasts, and families. It’s sure to be a great resource to help your customers, visiting family members, or friends fall in love with our beautiful home!

Still have questions or want to learn more about this initiative? Contact project coordinator Jesse Willicome at Otherwise, have a great summer enjoying and exploring the many attractions and hidden gems that dot this beautiful route!

Picture: The new Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route logo

Extension on Retallack Proposal Feedback Deadline – Now Mid-July 2018

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

In a June 4, 2018 discussion with Christine Lohr, Land Officer with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, a newly-founded information group was granted an extension on the existing deadline (June 13) for feedback regarding the Retallack back-country proposal until mid-July.

Due to the public still not having all the information (although it is all available), as well as difficulty for some residents in easily accessing the enormous proposal documents, this group was formed to distribute information gleaned from the proposal itself, conversations with key activists, proponents, opposers, wildlife specialists and local resources.

The plan is to analyze the information already available and present it in clear, factual pieces that are more manageable for the public and then to disseminate the information over the next month. Feedback on this process is sought and very welcome.

The information will be available at booths and tables over the coming weeks in higher populated locations and will hopefully be followed up by a public open house with a panel of experts and vested parties.

The tentative date for this open house is June 22 at 7pm at the Crawford Bay Hall. Watch for confirmation of this proposed meeting, but mark it down in your calendars for now!

We are looking for people who want to tend to these information tables. These people will present information in a factual manner and be able to offer their own understandings of the proposal.

Please feel free to join or reach out! Contact Carol Vanr at 250.505.3760 or for further info or to lend a hand.

Appeal to Put Moratorium on Retallack Proposal

A letter of appeal, submitted to Mainstreet

Hanging over the Kootenays.

By Local Author and Historian, Luanne Armstrong

Unlike many people, I have always lived in the same place, a farm on the east shore of Kootenay Lake in south eastern BC. I have travelled and worked and studied in many other places, but I have always come home to the farm, to the piece of land my grandfather bought in 1938, when times were very different than they are now.

The farm fed my parents and their children, as well as my own children as they grew. But farmland here is no longer valued for growing food. Instead, I now live in a recreational area, where the roads are long and empty in winter, but in summer, the road buzzes with motocyles, and trucks pulling boats or RV’s.

For many years, it has been a quietly idyllic place to live and, yes, the lake is tracked with boats all summer but winters are peaceful and most of my summer neighbours are gone.

Now the idyllic quiet is threatened; Retallack, a heli-ski operation based in Nelson and New Denver, has proposed an enormous heli-skiing, heli-biking operation for this east shore of Kootenay Lake, in the southern Purcell Mountain range. It’s hard to fathom the scope of what these developers are asking from provincial government and impossible to truly guess the impact it will have on our community, which is small, scattered and aging.

Many small rural communities in BC are in a similar state. Once the east shore was a vibrant place, full of young families, people homesteading, or people employed as miners, loggers, backhoe operators, carpenters. But people grew older, their children grew up, and one by one, some businesses failed; pubs, restaurants and grocery stores struggle to survive on tourism for a couple of months a year. Most new people moving to the community were retiring out of Calgary or other places, and looking for place to spend their senior years in peace. More and more summer homes were built along the shoreline. But summer people rarely come for more than a few weeks. In the winter, most driveways along the east shore are empty. The year-round people gather for potlucks, Scrabble games, afternoon tea, or acitvites like carpet bowling, wine making and yoga at the local community halls.

Now a huge threat looms over this somewhat idyllic place. Retallack is asking for tenure over a large portion of the south Purcell range, approximately 70,000 hectares. They say they are planning on building mutltiple heli-pads in several small communities, mulitple ski chalets in alpine areas, plus a ski lodge and spa on Ktunaxa land on Kootenay Lake.

Here it gets complicated. Supposedly, this is a fifty percent split with the Yaqan Nukiy band, part of the Ktunaxa Nation, in Creston BC, but the word from some members of the Yaqan Nukiy is that many people on the reserve are opposed to this development and the band council has yet to vote on it. It is unknown how much legal weight an agreement with the band chief might have if the band itself is opposed to this development.

The Ktunaxa completely opposed development of the Jumbo Pass ski resort because of its possible impact on grizzly bears, one of their sacred animals. Members of the Ktunaxa have said it is their job to protect the land. Most of the people in the Kootenays agreed with stopping Jumbo and wrote letters and demonstrated side by side with the Ktunaxa. So it is extremely unclear why the Lower Kootenay Band would want to partner with Retallack in a venture that will clearly have a huge impact on wildlife.

According to Wildsight and other biologists, Retallack’s year round proposal will have a profoundly negative impact on the ecology of the South Purcells. Animals such as mountain goat, grizzly, wolverines and cougars, have found somewhat of a refuge in this area which has one road, the Gray Creek Pass, running all the way through it. Logging roads have crept up all the valleys but the high alpine is somewhat intact. Retallack wants to build 161 kilometres of mountain bike trails through the alpine tundra and mountain valleys. It is fairly obvious that wildlife will be impacted, both from the noise and intrusion of trail building and then from mountain bikers speeding down the mountains.

Helicopters also have huge impact, both on animals and on humans. The noise echoes through the mountains. All of us on the east shore have lived through times when helicopters were necessary to fight fires and all of us know that there is no way to mitigate this noise. A constant day in and day out assault of noise from helicopters will affect nesting birds, almost all wildlife, and certainly, it will also affect senior humans trying to carry on their lives under a barrage of noise that will make them feel more as if they were suddenly living in a war zone, rather than the quiet peaceful community they once had. Helicopters also burn massive amount of fuel at a time when scientists are issuing increasingly desperate warnings about the effects of climate change.

This fuel will be cached at the various proposed heli-pads on both the east shore as well as on the west side of Kootenay Lake. One spill of fuel into Lemon Creek in the Slocan Valley was devastating to that community and is still being fought out in court.

There might be something in it for the community. There might a few jobs, some service worker jobs. Some ski guides. Where they would live, I have no idea. There is next to no rental housing on the east shore and land and house prices are extremely high.

Retallack tends to sell “in house” packages, according to its own website, so there is little spillover effect on the local community. Many skiers, bikers and other people seeking some kind of thrill will come in by shuttle bus, so they might not even have transportation when they are here. The east shore has one long thin road, prone to slides and washouts, that is choked with traffic in the summer and often badly serviced in the winter. So more traffic is not good news.

So why is this happening? It is the continuization of what writer, George Monbiot calls, “the capitalization of nature.” In effect, the east shore is going to be a sort of sacrifice zone; we who live here and cherish our homes and lifetyles are being asked to forsake that peace and endure an onslaught of noise and intrusion so a few very wealthy people can recreate in the back country of our home. We are being asked to give up the ecology of this place, which we all cherish, so a few people can have “fun.” And so one company and its owners can make a lot of money.

As Monbiot has written in the Guardian newspaper: “The notion that nature exists to serve us; that its value consists of the instrumental benefits we can extract; that this value can be measured in cash terms; and that what can’t be measured does not matter, has proved lethal to the rest of life on Earth.”

Everywhere on the planet, animal and fish populations are declining. We live in an age where scientists are becoming increasingly pessimistic in their announcements about “climate change” and its impact. 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, 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.

The only answer is for people to come back to the government and defend the values of where they live, defend wildlife, defend their lifestyle, defend their peace and quiet, defend all the inhabitants of their communities.

The community of the east shore has until June 13th to answer back to the government. Many people I have talked to remain confused and unsure of what this proposal entails and what the impact might actually be. Giving them time to understand would be a good idea. Putting a moritorium on such development until proper studies can be done on the impact of these and the many other heli-skiing proposals in the whole Kootenays, would be useful to both the communities and the people whose job it is to actually assess the risks to wildlife and communities of such projects.
No one on the east shore is against good tourism development and we are always happy to welcome new friends and neighbours. There is a strong sense of community in this place; people are very connected to each other and to the place where they lived.

To be forced to give all this up for the sake of a few rich back country skiiers and bikers is a travesty of the worst kind. It’s even more ironic that both skiing and biking were originally invented as transportation methods for pioneers and working people. Now they are just play.
Nobody has anything against play either but when play and money become more important than community and ecology, we are all in deep trouble.

Board Approves Acquisition of Land for New Regional Park in Crawford Bay

View on the RDCK website:

Nelson, BC: The Board of Directors of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) today took the next step in the process to purchase land for a new regional park. Based on information presented in the staff report received at today’s special open meeting, the Board gave the first, second, and third readings of the loan authorization bylaw that will provide the RDCK share of the funding for the acquisition of land. This follows several months of community consultation and negotiation with the seller. The land—made up of approximately 69.68 hectares surrounding the Crawford Bay beach and wetlands—is being purchased from Kokanee Springs Resorts (KSR) for $2.85 million.

The purchase is being partially funded with $800,000 from Columbia Basin Trust. The remainder of funding for the purchase will be through property taxation and reserve funds.

“Public access to Kootenay Lake, recreational opportunities, protection of sensitive wetlands and riparian area restoration all resonate with residents and visitors alike,” said Garry Jackman, Director of RDCK Electoral Area A. “Through the efforts of RDCK staff and with the generosity and support of Columbia Basin Trust we have reached that point at last.”

“The residents of the East Shore demonstrated overwhelming support for this opportunity, and the Trust is pleased to support their efforts to create a regional park,” said Johnny Strilaeff, President and CEO of Columbia Basin Trust. “It will offer a broad spectrum of benefits to the area including environmental preservation, economic development, tourism opportunities and increased community-based recreation.”

In 2011, the RDCK acquired a small area of land along an undeveloped road allowance near the Crawford Bay foreshore as a preliminary step towards a potentially larger project. Historically, KSR has allowed the public to access Crawford Bay wetlands and the beach through a portion of their property. In the summer of 2017, KSR listed the land for sale, which prompted members of the community to express interest in the RDCK acquiring it for regional park purposes.

The park acquisition is the result of ongoing public consultation and community involvement. The community involvement process included a public open house on August 23, 2017, which was attended by more than 110 people; and three open houses held on December 11 in Riondel, Boswell and Wynndel. On December 14, the RDCK Board received an informal community petition with 942 signatures requesting the creation of a new park in Crawford Bay.

Land negotiation with KSR has involved RDCK staff with support from RDCK CAO Stuart Horn and Director Jackman.

“Conversations around the potential for this site have been going on for decades,” continued Director Jackman. “I realize that due to the size of this site and the multiple titles involved that there were numerous opinions as to what the acquisition should or could look like, but the consistent message has been to secure the site for generations to come.”

Additional funding of $2,070,707 for the purchase will be borrowed and funded through an annual taxation of approximately $113,928 of the affected service area, at a rate of $0.1607 per $1,000 of residential converted assessment. A $350,000 residential property would pay $56.35/year based on the 2018 assessment. Remaining costs will be funded through reserves.

Anticipating that the public would want regional districts to acquire land and improve land for park and trails purposes, the Local Government Act (LGA) and LGA Regional District Liabilities Regulation provides unique powers for borrowing funds for those purposes. Pursuant to Section 407(2)(c) of the LGA and Section 3 of the LGA Regional District Liabilities Regulation the borrowing of funds for a regional park or regional trail service is not subject to voter asset. Although electoral approval is not required, the RDCK made sure to involve the public in the decision.

The Board gave first, second and third readings of the Crawford Bay Beach Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 2602, 2018 at today’s special open Board meeting. The RDCK will take possession of the lands as of October 1, 2018. A Regional Park Management Plan, which will include a public consultation process, will be developed to determine the future use and maintenance of the park.

Incorporated in 1965, the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) is a local government that serves 60,000 residents in 11 electoral areas and nine member municipalities. The RDCK provides more than 160 services, including community facilities, fire protection and emergency services, grants, planning and land use, regional parks, resource recovery and handling, transit, and much more. For more information about the RDCK, visit

Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route Tourism Campaign Kicks Off

press release for immediate release – May 22, 2018

Launch party marks beginning of year-long campaign promoting area

(photo by Daniel Seguin)

The Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route, a year-long tourism campaign showcasing businesses, organizations, and attractions from Yahk to Riondel, is set to launch this June. To mark the beginning of the campaign, the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Tourism Advisory Committee (CVKL TAC) will be kicking things off with a Launch Party  on Tuesday, May 29th, 5:00 PM at Casey’s Community House.

The launch will provide opportunity for campaign participants and community members to get a first peak at the campaign website, print guide, and social media pages, which will promote the area through four self-guided tours: Arts & Culture, Local Food & Wine, Nature & Recreation, and Health & Wellness.

And of course the party is also be an opportunity to mix, mingle,  and sample the menu of Casey’s Community House itself, which opened this past May long weekend to much fanfare.

“We are really seeing a growing number of visitors interested in exploring our communities, whether it’s our local hiking and biking trails, artisan’s studios, farmers markets, or wineries.” Says project coordinator Jesse Willicome.  “This campaign reaches  people while they’re at home researching a trip or on the road looking for the next stop, showing off all we have to offer  and inspiring them to put us on their 2018 travel bucket list. After a lot of hard work by a lot of people, we’re excited to launch this campaign and celebrate.”

For further details about the event or for information about the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route please feel free to contact project coordinator, Jesse Willicome at