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The Regional District of the Central Okanagan has an Advisory Planning Commission that held a meeting to review the proposal made to convert the Bear Creek Recreation Management Zone (RMZ) into a Recreation Site to be managed by the Ministry of Sports, Tourism, and the Arts.  




This opinion has been passed to the Okanagan Trail Riders Association Executive, and was written by a homeowner and resident of Lakeview Heights (on the west side of Okanagan Lake across from Kelowna). It is not the official position of the Okanagan Trail Riders Association, however, it contains an interesting perspective on the meeting.

Hello OTRA,

I recently attended, as an observer, an RDCO APC meeting to discuss the Bear Creek RMZ. The OTRA is applying to have this area converted into a Recreation Site so they can apply for Stewardship of the area. The APC was there to consider the application and make a recommendation on whether this should be supported. In the end, the Commission voted against the proposal unless a long list of issues were dealt with first. There seemed to be a small disconnect between fantasy and reality at the meeting by some of the members of the APC. This puzzled me.

A little background:

  • The Bear Creek RMZ exists today. It was established through a long process, called the LRMP, involving many different stakeholders in the Okanagan - Shuswap area. It was made clear by a government representative that it is not going to be moved.
  • An increasing number of riders in the Okanagan, BC, Alberta, and in fact the USA are learning of this riding area. There will be more and more riders coming.
  • Riders have enjoyed this area for decades.
  • As a few homes have been built up Bear Creek Road, there are increasing problems with noise.
  • There are hundreds of people who use this riding area. There are a handful of homes across the valley.
  • The government representative made it clear that if the RMZ was included in a Recreation Site, he would have specific funds for policing, enforcement, and capital improvements. As it is, he said he had very limited means to manage the area.
  • The OTRA wants Stewardship of this area for the following reasons:
    • They want to improve the riding area
    • They want to fix trails to make them sustainable, and to ensure they do not harm the watershed
    • They want to push the riders onto trails that take them further up into the hills - away from the homeowners
    • They want to have proper sanitary facilities to protect the environment
    • They want the ability to protect the area from "raves" and other destructive behaviour

As these facts became clear at the meeting, the question that the Commission and Chair were puzzled over is "By making this into a Recreation Site, are we not putting the cart before the horse?" They seemed to be worried that by allowing the OTRA to take responsibility for this area, they would somehow be making the problem worse.

The logic problem is, there already is a cart. It is full of rocks and is careening out of control towards those houses. The cart is an already designated RMZ with an emphasis on motorized recreation (motorcycles), that is completely unmanaged. The only group that is willing to attach itself to that cart, and attempt to get it under control, is the OTRA. Complaining will not remove the cart. It already exists and is extremely unlikely to go away. No government agency is willing to take control of the area without the OTRA being the "horse" and managing the area.

It was also puzzling to me that the APC, with its inability to support the application without a huge list of demands, did not understand that by voting for the status quo they were not going to improve the situation. The status quo is not static - the situation is changing. There are more and more riders coming, so the problems are not going to stay the same, they are going to get worse. This will put more pressure on the government from both the riders and the RDCO to assign management to the OTRA. No other group is there to take on the responsibility. So all the APC did was ensure that the problems that need to be addressed will be put off for more months.

It was a disappointing meeting, because the APC stuck their head in the sand and voted to do nothing. It was enlightening because the OTRA executive were there with logical arguments and a plan to fix the problem. Sometimes it takes longer than we like, but logic usually prevails in the end.

Darcy Detlor

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