Complaints prompt Spallumcheen trail debate

First, the Township of Spallumcheen wants to know if the Ministry of Forests has any similar agreements in place.

First, the Township of Spallumcheen wants to know if the Ministry of Forests has any similar agreements in place.

If so, then they’ll hold a meeting with stakeholders to possibly take the ministry up on its offer to provide some financial assistance for improvements at the Rose Swanson Mountain hiking area.

“The township received a phone call from John Gillespie of the ministry of forests, advising us they’ve had a complaint near Rose Swanson Mountain,” said Cindy Graves, deputy corporate officer for the township in a report to council. “They have indicated they’re interested in working with the municipality to get funds up there to do improvements to the area.”

Graves said the ministry is interested in a stakeholder meeting and possibly providing some finances.

The complaints are believed to be mostly about partiers in the area leaving behind garbage which could possibly be a potential fire hazard.

However, Mayor Janice Brown told council she went to pick up some garbage near the popular trails and stated it wasn’t from partiers but from people dumping things like desks and other large items on the Crown land.

Brown said she’s puzzled by the ministry’s request.

“On the one hand, they don’t want partiers and to encourage this kind of activity, then they want to know if we want more signage to encourage more users in the area,” she said.

“I’m not sure how involved we want to get. It is grant money but it does take staff time and sets us up for liability issues.”

Coun. Christine Fraser motioned to council to direct staff to set up a meeting with stakeholders.

“They’re interested in meeting with us and coming up with a partnership, and the best way to do something is to not make it a fire hazard,” said Fraser. “There’s a large group of whoever that goes up there and parties, lighting great big bonfires, then they leave and the bonfires go all night long.

“It’s a fire concern more than anything else. If we don’t do anything and there’s a great big forest fire up there, I’ll feel partially responsible.”

Coun. Andrew Casson felt forestry must have other such agreements in place and invited Gillespie to come present to council before making any decision.

If Gillespie accepts and presents, council would then decide on whether to host a stakeholders meeting and form a partnership.