Kimberley City Council approves update to Kimberley Nature Park Management Plan

The update will allow for more flexibility within time frames for special event applications.

Kimberley City Council has approved an update to the Kimberley Nature Park Management Plan that provides for more flexibility in the deadlines for proponents to submit proposed events or activities within the park.

At a Regular Council Meeting on Monday, April 9, 2018, Manager of Planning Services Troy Pollock explained that the update sets out the criteria and rules for managing and reviewing proposals for events and activities to be held in the Kimberley Nature Park.

“The Kimberley Nature Park Society (KNPS) over the years has made a series of minor changes to continually improve those criteria and requirements,” said Pollock.

Previously, there was only one time of year where proponents were able to submit applications for events within park limits. If the update is approved by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO), there will be three separate periods to apply throughout the year.

Those time periods are as follows: events before July 1 must be applied for by March 1 of that year, events before November 1 must be applied for by May of that year, and events before March 1 must be applied for by September of the previous year.

The reason the update needs to be reviewed by FLNRO is because the City holds a licence of occupation for the Provincial crown land that comprises the Kimberley Nature Park. Through an agreement with the City, KNPS is responsible for stewardship and management of the Nature Park.

There is also a maximum number of events that are allowed throughout the year. Four events are allowed during the winter season, and four events are allowed during the remainder of the year.

“So far, having eight a year seems to be ample, there aren’t many winter events. Although, fat biking is getting bigger and bigger all the time so I expect some day there might be some races in there in the winter,” said Councillor Kent Goodwin who sits on the board for the KNPS.

Councillor Darryl Oakley asked if there have been any studies done on the impact of events on the trails.

Goodwin says that they certainly see wear on the trails if there are large events, especially bike races.

“They [bike races] tend to take more of a toll on the trails as opposed to running races,” said Goodwin. “It’s partly about the impacts on the trails, partly about wildlife and all the things that live there, and also other users. A lot of people like to go in the park for solitude and quiet, and if you have dozens of big events where there’s always hundreds of people running by we loose that. We’re just trying to keep a handle on it.”

When asked if some of the trails have been damaged, Goodwin said the trails sometimes see a month or two worth of wear in a couple of days.

“It’s nothing major at any given time. It’s just the idea that over time, year after year, the events wear on the trails. Race organizers do tend to donate money in order to cover the costs if we have to hire people to clean up and rebuild etc.,” explained Goodwin.

Appendix F of the Management Plan states that the park management objectives clarify that the area is to be retained in as natural a condition as possible, and that recreational activities which have low impact, and which are compatible with each other, will be encouraged. Precedence is given to the protection of vegetation and wildlife over human use, when the two come into serious conflict. The City has recognized the park in the Official Community Plan and has zoned the park area for non-motorized activities.

There are specific screening guidelines for proponents, and they must submit a written event application that is then reviewed by the KNPS. Any commercial events within the park should also contact the City and the Province, as they may require a business license, proof of liability insurance, a special event permit and letters of support before an event can be approved on crown land. Liability for all events is the responsibility of event organizers.

For more information visit kimberleynaturepark.ca, or check out the City of Kimberley website and click on the Regular Council Agenda for April 9.

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