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December 24, 2016

A Lower Mainland mountain club recently criticized BC Parks for its attack on volunteers working at Crest Creek Crags in Strathcona Park. Volunteers for the last thirty years have added $1 million of value to the crags and made it known internationally. BC Parks response is to slap the volunteers with heavy fines and sabotage the spirit of volunteerism in Strathcona Park. BC Parks is indulging in a petty vendetta and behaving like a small child throwing a hissy fit.

Letter sent to Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Environment (responsible for BC Parks)

December 23th, 2016

Dear Minister,

I represent the British Columbia Mountaineering Club [BCMC] with more than 800 active members.  We are writing you to urge the crown and BC Parks to repeal the “illegal camping” fines levied against the Heathens Mountaineering Club [HMC] in 2016.  The BCMC also strongly encourages BC Parks to normalize relationships with the HMC by preparing and ratifying a new signed volunteer agreement that is consistent with other volunteer groups across the province of BC.

The volunteer work at Crest Creek Crags, which has been performed by the HMC volunteers over many decades, has an estimated value by some to be in excess of a million dollars.  In addition, the access to the outstanding rock climbing area that this volunteer trail work facilitates is recognized and appreciated internationally by the growing global climbing community.  

In light of the current funding and resource pressures facing BC Parks, it appears to be highly counterproductive that BC Parks has chosen to both alienate and punish volunteer trail crews by issuing excessively large fines.  Equally puzzling to the BCMC is why BC Parks representatives have demanded the HMC sign a new volunteer agreement which is distinctly different from other provincial agreements, in order for the HMC to continue their usual volunteer trail improvement efforts.  Furthermore, the BC Parks decision to include a confidentiality clause (viewed as a “gag order”) in the new volunteer agreement is not consistent with other coastal club agreements ratified with BC Parks and appears excessively harsh for the situation.  The BC Parks staff dealing with this issue have also failed to recognize and acknowledge the legitimacy of the existing signed agreement with the HMC; an agreement that supports and legitimizes the volunteer work that the HMC has been performing for many years.

The BCMC requests that BC Parks work quickly and responsibly to remove the fines levied against the HMC to restore and foster the spirit of volunteerism at Strathcona Park, and to create a reasonable volunteer agreement with the HMC that is more consistent with similar volunteer groups.  The BCMC is concerned that without ongoing volunteer work provided exclusively by the HMC, the outstanding trail infrastructure at Crest Creek Crags will soon deteriorate, which would be a tragedy noticed by many.  We hope sincerely that such loss is not desired outcome of BC Parks and the BC Government.


[signatory withheld]

BCMC Conservation Chair and Webmaster

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