Watershed activities discussed

Council asks Recreation Sites and Trails BC, Kimberley Trails Society to sit on Mark Creek Integrated Watershed Committee

Last week, Kimberley City Council once again discussed the issue of recreation in the watershed. The Kimberley Trails Society who, working with Recreation Sites and Trails BC, is working on the Bootleg Trails Project.

While the City has no jurisdiction over the area where the trails are proposed, the trails do cut across a portion of the Matthew Creek watershed, and therefore the City did have some voice in the proposal.

It was decided that rather than work out a Memorandum of Understanding, which had been in the works since the winter, it would better suit the City’s needs to have representatives from RSTBC and the KTS sit on the Mark Creek Integrated Watershed Committee. That, Mayor and Council agreed, would provide a suitable venue to discuss any issues that come up through this and other future trails project.

While Council has no concerns about this current Bootleg Trail Project ­— Coun. Albert Hoglund noted that the trails are not above the Matthew Creek intake — there was some broader discussion once again, about activity in the watershed.

There was also some question from Council as to how the MOU came to be abandoned. Coun. Nigel Kitto, the city representative on the Trails Society, said he was concerned about communication. After going through what he said was a convoluted and difficult process to get to an MOU, it was suddenly abandoned.

Mayor Don McCormick said that after a longer look, it was decided that tying release of RMI funding to an MOU would not be fruitful, and it would be a far better idea to have the two groups sit on the watershed committee, which is the city’s practice when any interest plans activity in the watershed.

Hoglund said that it was the recommendation of the City’s Manager of Operations that the city not sign an MOU and he agreed with that.

“If we sign it, we are saying it’s okay to have recreation in the watershed,” Hoglund said. “If this council is going to change that, it needs to be brought forward as a recommendation. Yes, there is logging in the watersheds. We have no choice on that. But that’s why the City is the chair of the watershed committee, so we can make sure it is up to our standards.

“We are talking about being consistent with how we deal with logging,” McCormick said.

Coun. Darryl Oakley said he found the process to protect the watershed flawed.

“I have absolute respect for the folks on the watershed committee, but as far as I’m concerned the process to protect the watershed is flawed. If you want to protect your interests, you get on the committee. BC Timber Sales gets on the committee to protect their interests. If you’re trapping, yo go to the watershed committee to protect your right to trap. It’s flawed.”

“The spin you’re putting on it is another way to look at it,” McCormick said.

Oakley said he was merely pointing out that the current model could be better.

“So let’s bring some changes,” the mayor said.

Coun. Bev Middlebrook said that while she was not in favour of recreation in the watershed, having the Trails Society and RSTBC sit on the committee was  a step in the right direction.

“We say we don’t support recreation in the watershed, yet we have allocated funding to allow activity in the watershed, albeit limited,” said Kitto. “It’s time to look at how we do things.”

Hoglund defended the watershed committee saying a lot of communities would look at the committee and want what Kimberley has. “When Stikine was doing deep drilling, they sat on the committee. Interior Health is sitting there waiting.”

“This is the fifth or sixth time we’ve had this discussion,” McCormick said. “Let’s do something about the watershed issue. We need to put this on the agenda of the next strategic planning session.”

In the meantime, Council voted to have KTS and RSTBC join the watershed committee and work on the Bootleg Trails can proceed.