BC Parks and BLES….First Meeting in 12 Years….A Good Start


In the Cariboo we have treasure everywhere. For some people, GOLD is the first thing that will come to mind For those of us who love the outdoors, we have the crown jewel of all outdoor adventure treasures….The Bowron Lake Chain, a truly unique paddling destination.

I have been told that his past week, for the first time since the Bowron Lake Park Use Plan was developed 12 years ago, BC Parks administrators sat down with the executive of the Bowron Lake Enhancement Society (representing Park lovers, users, advocates and volunteers), to discuss issues of mutual concern. Management of public parks must involve consumer/volunteer input, the fact that this meeting took place represents an enlightened and very positive step and I commend everyone involved.  I hope that this partnership will grow from a relationship based on trust. As with all relationships, trust will grow out of mutual appreciation for the contribution and input of each of the partners and a belief that both are indeed working together towards a common goal.

I wasn’t part of this meeting, but if I had been able to have input, these are the agenda topics I would have put forward for discussion, with my probable comments in italics:

1. Sound heritage buildings are presently being destroyed on the Bowron and are being replaced (using the same footprint) with expensive replacement structures. The documentation of the provenance of the existing Park buildings is unclear, is our link with the past being severed? A little bit of research should quickly clarify this and if necessary, it is time to write a Statement of Significance for every structure and “special place” on the Chain. Before new construction can take place, it is necessary to undertake an archaeological study of any area to be impacted. Is this why the old footprint is being used for new construction? If this is the case, it then leaves no option but to destroy (or maybe move?) the existing structure.  Developing a Statement of Significance is really just an extension of the archaeological assessment.

2. The cost and the waste associated with replacing the existing structures is a source of major fiscal concern, especially in the face of other pressing priorities in the Park. How can these expenditures be justified?  Newer is not necessarily better.  What options (like restoration and regular building maintenance are available)?  It is important that these decisions are not made in a vacuum, that is why the perspective of user groups is so important. This is an emotional topic that needs to be considered candidly.

3. The Park Use Plan clearly states that Bowron Lake Provincial Park exists to offer a “wilderness paddling experience for the intermediate level paddler.” Those who have paddled the Chain and who have grown to appreciate it would suggest that this goal has been largely attained. It is important not to undermine this fact by building structures that don’t belong in that setting, destroying historic buildings and other features, posting intrusive warning signs at every turn and giving inconsistent and confusing messages to the paddling public. Most importantly, we need to be stewards and to value and take care of what is already in place around the Chain.

If you care about the Bowron and/or want to learn more, I would  refer you to http://www.facebook.com/Bowronlake this is Sandy Phillips’ Bear River Mercantile/Museum site…it’s a good one!   You can also go to the Bear River Mercantile website  at http://www.bowronlake.com  The website for the Bowron Lake Enhancement Society (BLES) is http://www.bles.ca   To see some outsdanding  photos of  paddling and Bowron Lake go to Thomas Drasdauskis’ website at http://www.photodras.zenfolio.com

Prepared by Jeffrey Dinsdale, March 25, 2014