Strathcona Park supporters begin summer-long camp-in
Strathcona Park protectors will be ready for friends and foes this summer.
The 3,000-member Friends of Strathcona started a summer-long camp-in Saturday in the heart of the park, about 1½ kilometres upstream from Buttle Lake, and across the valley from Westmin resources LTD. mine. At least five members of the organization will be on hand until Labour Day ready to welcome visitors, answer questions about the oldest provincial park, and to explain the industrial threat to the wilderness. And they will be ready to resist any new attempts at industrial activity in that area of the park by blocking access and calling reinforcements.
"Were inviting all British Columbians to come and experience firsthand the priceless beauty of this place," Friends vice-president Des Kennedy said Saturday. "This is a world-class wilderness park. It ranks among the most spectacular wilderness to be found anywhere on earth. After seeing the park - and the existing mine here - it's not hard to judge whether it should be mined or logged further, or left untouched."
Kennedy said Friends of Strathcona has a team of 10 civil disobedience trainers who will give nonviolence training during the summer. "We hope there's no need for further disobedience, but any plan to move mining equipment into Price Creek - or anywhere else in the park - will be met with resistance."
The existence of the park has been a cloud since January when the provincial government allowed Cream Silver Mines LTD. to explore the Thelwood Creek area adjacent to Westmin Mines. Both sites are within park boundaries.
Sixty-four people were arrested during two months of confrontation between Friends and driller. So far, three people have been convicted of blocking a road and placed on probation. The remaining sixty-one are scheduled to go to trial in October.
In the two months that Cream Silver crew worked in the park, Friends of Strathcona membership tripled from 1,000 to 3,000. Kennedy said the organization continues to grow as more people visit the park.
The exploration permits were issued as part of new provincial park policy of naming some parks as "recreation areas" where logging and mining are permitted. About 10,000 hectares in the heart of 231,000-hectare Strathcona Park have been given this designation. However, after Cream Silver pulled out from Thelwood, all industrial activity was halted pending an independent review of Strathcona Park policy and boundaries. The review report was due on June 30, but has not yet been filed.
Kennedy said Cream Silver Mines LTD. wants to explore Price Creek area for minerals, and has asked the provincial government for a permit. "If the government is foolish enough to allow this company in," he said, "They'll find us waiting for them."
the main task of the camping teams will be to provide visitors with information.
"There'll be no arm twisting, no forcing information on anyone, but
we will have answers to questions," he said. Kennedy expects tourism
to increase in the park as a result of the publicity about park protests.
"This is what has happened in other places such as Meares Island
when there were problems - people decide they want to see for themselves
what all the fuss is about."