The provincial government has once again denied a request to re-instate the Conservation Officer position in Revelstoke.
In a letter to mayor and council, Mary Polak, the Minister of the Environment, re-affirmed the ministries decision to not have a CO present in the community.
“As I noted in my previous correspondence to the City of Revelstoke on April 28, 2014, a review of the deployment of officers in the Columbia Kootenay Zone found moving the Conservation Officer (CO) position from Revelstoke to Golden would provide the best level of service to the entire zone and enhance safety and mutual operational support for the two officers in Invermere. As of October 20,2014, the Golden COS now has two field officers capable of addressing matters in the Revelstoke area,” she wrote.
“At this time, the ministry will not be moving the CO position back to Revelstoke.”
Revelstoke lost its Conservation Officer in late 2013 when CO Adam Christie retired. Since then, Polak has stood behind a decision to not staff the position here. The Ministry of the Environment cited lack of calls to the RAPP line as the reason for transferring the position to Golden.
The decision has prompted numerous requests from local government officials and stakeholder groups to reverse the move. The issue has resulted in numerous problems, including one incident where local RCMP had to shoot a black bear that was entering people’s yards.
Gary Krestinsky, the president of the Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club, has said there has been a rise in illegal fishing and hunting. As well, club members have had to respond to calls that normally would be handled by a CO.
Sue Davies, the Revelstoke’s Bear Aware coordinator, noted that the presence of a CO could have helped mitigate the community’s bear problem last summer. According to Bear Aware’s annual report for 2014, there were more than 300 bear sightings reported last year — the most in at least a decade. There were 24 instances of property damage, 18 instances when bears attempted to enter buildings, eight instances when bears acted aggressively, and 10 black bears were put down.
The issue reached its highest prominence in early October when a bear got trapped in a tree in downtown Revelstoke. RCMP had to monitor the bear for hours while two COs drove in from Vernon to remove the bear from the tree.
The incident prompted a second letter from former Mayor David Raven asking the CO position be reinstated in Revelstoke.
The response from Polak, dated Jan. 20, 2015, once again denied the request.