Society takes aim at park plan

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society concerned about Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – B.C. wishes to express its opposition to the B.C. Government’s proposal to remove land from Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park (KLPP) to accommodate a 20-metre-wide right-of-way and the expansion of Cosens Bay Road.

We believe that this proposal would compromise the values for which the park was created to protect and is thus incompatible with the Provincial Protected Area Boundary Adjustment Policy, Processes and Guidelines (2010).

The current road is safe and adequate for existing usage, which is limited. This project will facilitate increased speeds and volumes of traffic passing through the park, thereby decreasing safety for park visitors as well as wildlife. Safety concerns should be addressed by regulating road speeds, and this can be done without excising any area from the park.

Thus, this proposal falls within the third category of boundary adjustments: where a proponent (private or public) is interested in a boundary adjustment to allow for a development or activity not allowed by authorization under the protected area legislation.

As stated in the KLPP purpose statement and zoning plan, “the primary purposes of Kalamalka Lake Park are to protect its grasslands, parkland and upland forest, lakeshore and species at risk and provide a wide range of day use upland and lake-oriented outdoor recreation activities.” The 2006 state of the park analysis concluded that KLPP, is “one of the best examples of North Okanagan grasslands, unique cliff and wetland habitats and may contain more than 20 provincially listed plant and animal species.”

This analysis also cites the impacts of Cosens Bay Road as one of the top three concerns raised by local stakeholders. As early as the 1980s, the importance of these grasslands was realized, and a public advisory report recommended phasing out the road and hydro transmission lines. Although the road has been open to the public since 1996, no assessment has been made regarding the impact that traffic has had, though it is known that snakes and amphibian species have suffered higher mortality. Vehicle traffic is also strongly associated with the introduction of invasive plants, another major threat to species at risk. The report states that ideally the road should be closed in order to protect park resources

Clearly an expansion of the road is incompatible with maintaining the primary purpose for which this park was established. The nominal benefits of this project would accrue to a small number of private landholders, while the public interest and environmental values would suffer.  If anything, the minister of environment should be considering the earlier recommendation to review the impact of the existing road on species at risk and determine whether further restrictions are necessary to maintain this ecosystem and the species at risk that depend on it.

Furthermore, we wish to express our deep concern that this boundary adjustment process has proceeded this far. Given that this proposal does not meet the basic criteria of the boundary adjustment policy, this should not have proceeded beyond stage one (initial proposal). Allowing this to proceed has placed an undue burden on local residents to respond and participate in an unnecessary process, and on B.C. Parks’ limited resources.

Peter Wood, Director Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, B.C. Chapter