Gwaii Haanas policies withstand court test

  • May. 25, 2005 8:00 a.m.

A federal court judge has upheld three Gwaii Haanas policies
challenged by Sandspit commercial tour operator Doug Gould.
The first policy limits the size of tour groups to a maximum of 22 people at a time, the second caps a tour operator at a total of 2,500 visitor nights per year and the third limits the total number of overnight stays to 33,000, with 11,000 for independent users, 11,000 for Haida commercial tour operators and 11,000 for other operators.
Gwaii Haanas Superintendent Ernie Gladstone created these policies at the recommendation of the Archipelago Management Board to limit activity “to protect the ecological integrity of Gwaii Haanas and the visitor experience,” according to acting Superintendent Dennis Madsen.
Right now, Gwaii Haanas has 20 licensed commercial tour operators. Between 1,500-2,000 people visit and spend between 11,000 to 15,000 days there, said Mr. Madsen, which is less than half of the number that could potentially visit.
“The judge found that the superintendent acted within his authority in making these decisions,” said Mr. Madsen. “We don’t make these decisions lightly. There’s lots of consultation and solicitation of input from operators, visitors and interested people. The judge found there was extensive consultation and the decision was made in good faith.”
Mr. Gould of Moresby Explorers has been active in the South Moresby area before the park was created, and launched the court challenge in January 2004. He chose not to comment to the Observer.