Conservancy funding troubles MIMC chair

  • Nov. 15, 2010 7:00 p.m.

Not one cent has been spent on the new conservancies on Moresby Island, says Moresby Island Management Committee chair. Evan Putterill said campsites like Gray Bay and Sheldon’s Bay, designated as co-managed conservancies in 2007, are turning into “paper parks.” At the Nov. 10 MIMC meeting, he discussed a letter he’d written to the Ministers of Environment; Aboriginal Relations; Forests, Mines and Lands; and Tourism, Trade and Investment. Although there has been some investment at Moresby Camp, other areas are being neglected, according to the letter. Mr. Putterill notes that these campsites have been recreation destinations for over 40 years, but they are now falling into disrepair with rotting picnic tables, unmaintained outhouses and decrepit access roads. “Danger trees are not being removed,” he said. The community of Sandspit has been trying to find solutions to these issues, but has been unsuccessful and has had no support from the province, he said. For example, volunteers raised money for a North Moresby Island comprehensive trail strategy in 2006 with an update in 2009. The inventory identified 40 km of existing recreational trail on North Moresby, all of which was in need of improvements and upgrades. “The trail network has the potential to be a huge tourist draw,” wrote Mr. Putterill, but the community does not have the capital funds to bring it up to acceptable standards, nor do they feel confident the province will assist in maintenance and operation if they do find the funds. Mr. Putterill noted his community also applied for a Job Opportunities program to help get unemployed loggers working to upgrade the infrastructure in the conservancies, but was unsuccessful. “The province missed a real opportunity to provide work for unemployed forest workers and provide the work necessary to bring two campsites, which are the responsibility of BC Parks, up to accessible standards,” he said. “Three years have passed now and all that we have seen is paper parks and lost logging opportunities,” he said. “When does the province plan on investing in the conservancies on Haida Gwaii?” Mr. Putterill said he wrote the letter to all four ministers because an integrated approach to the issue is needed. At the meeting, other committee members thanked him for writing the letter, dated Oct. 25. They had not yet received a response.