Kimberley Council defers decision on watershed access

Council concerned that access to one commercial operator opens door to more requests

Upon hearing the presentation from Kimberley Snowmobile Adventures about watershed access, Coun. Darryl Oakley said it was time to have some dialogue and healthy debate on the possibilities and potential of allowing some access to commercial ventures.

“We say we want nominal use of the watershed when in fact it’s a very busy place. It’s getting busier and busier. Unless we’re prepared to put 24 hour security in, working with a local business is security for us.”

Oakley believes a responsible operator can be a help.

“People are not monitored in the watershed, but if Jeff (Cook from Kimberley Snowmobile Adventures) sees something really out of order, he can report it or speak to the people. There can be some education happening.”

Coun. Kent Goodwin asked Cook if he felt there was  practical way to keep other snowmobilers out of the watershed.

He said he didn’t think so, people were in there all the time. He did think you might have some success closing particularly vulnerable sections provided you found somewhere else were people were allowed to go.

Coun. Albert Hoglund has sat on the Mark Creek Watershed Committee for years and he did take issue with some of the comments made by Cook.

“The City took a stance on logging — we don’t support it, but the government said it’s going to happen. So to say we allow logging is an unfair statement.

‘“Trapping was allowed in the 1980s because of beavers and the risk of giardia. The trapper is allowed to take the beaver out.”

Cook said his main points stood — that snowmobile tours had a far lesser impact than logging, and that the trapper was also using the watershed recreationally, accessing the cabin with a quad.

Hoglund said the trapper also does water monitoring for the City. His main concern was that once you allow one commercial operation, you will get a flood of requests for more.

“Once you open the watershed for public access, you’re not going to stop it,” Hoglund said.

Coun. Bev Middlebrook said that Cook had valid points but that her concern were the same as Hoglund’s.

“If you let one business in, you have to let in others,” she said. “I understand you are being respectful, but it’s our water.”

“People are already there,” Cook said. “We’re not the people who are going to be a serious detriment.”

Coun. Don McCormick said it was agreed that there is a lot of activity in the watershed. He said it wasn’t productive for Council to put its head in the sand and say they aren’t there.

Mayor Ron McRae said there was serious dollar figures to talk about in any conversation about the watershed. The Mark Creek Watershed committee would be reconvened on June 14, he said, and Council would attend.

In the meantime the recommendation to deny access to commercial ventures was deferred and no decision made.