The 'brutalizing' of Strathcona has park
pioneers speaking up
Three retired provincial parks pioneers have joined forces again to save B.C. wilderness parks from industrialization. The three, retired provincial parks director Bob Ahrens, retired recreation and conservation deputy minister Lloyd Brooks, and retired park planner Bob Broadland, started their careers back in 1949 after graduation from university.
Thursday night they came out of retirement to talk to the Strathcona Park Advisory Committee about provincial park policy. In particular, they are talking about Strathcona Park, which Broadland called "one of the most brutalized parks in Canada - certainly the most brutalized in B.C."
Brooks and Broadland spoke their minds Thursday night, as the hearing opens in Victoria. This morning Ahrens is scheduled to be the second speaker at the 9:30 a.m. meeting. Broadland said it is time the provincial government started to atone for the obscenities it has committed "against Strathcona's lovely form." He recommended transferring Strathcona to federal jurisdiction as an addition to Pacific Rim National Park. He also recommended the establishment of a $15-million park restoration fund to buy out existing mineral claims and timber licenses. And he said, Westmin Resources, which is spending $1-million a year now to neutralize acid in mine waste, should establish a fund to pay for clean-up when the mine is abandoned.
Broadland reminded the panel, chaired by Dr. Peter Larkin, that Strathcona became a park 77 years ago so that a sample of virgin territory could be preserved. "Some sample, some virgin," he commented.
Brooks said Broadland and Ahrens had spent their entire careers setting up what was recognized as a first class park system. "The early years in provincial parks were heady years," he said. "We believed we were helping to set aside something special and permanent for future generations. Not in the wildest state of imagination did we believe we would see the day when ordinary men and women of all ages would camp in the mud and rain, and risk humiliation and arrest to focus on and to defend those very values we naively believed were protected for all time," he said. Sixty four people have been arrested while protesting mining exploration in the heart of Strathcona Park.
recreation areas where industrial activity is allowed can never be parkland.
Integrated resource management is impossible in a true park because wilderness
is beauty, virgin timber and pristine alpine meadows cannot be restored
from slag heaps and stumps. Brooks said not only Strathcona Park, but
the entire provincial parks system is at risk from a bottom line approach