Although access to both the Mark Creek and Matthew Creek watersheds is controlled, there is no doubt that there is considerable traffic in both, from logging to recreational use.
It has been an ongoing concern for the Watershed Committee and for Kimberley City Council and this week two separate areas of concern came up; one because of an application for trails on Bootleg Mountain and another a notification of BC Timber Sales road building for the Mark Creek watershed.
Some of the trails proposed would be in the Matthew Creek watershed and Council has indicated it has concerns about that.
Coun. Darryl Oakley has stated repeatedly his concern about the lack of control the City of Kimberley has over its own watersheds.
“We have no control over industrial use or recreational use. It’s getting busier all the time in our watersheds,” he said. “A trail is the least of our worries.”
Oakley said that his concern was that as more and more people use the watersheds, at some time there will be a tipping point that requires filtration plants for each watershed.
“I think we need a long range plan to tackle this,” he said.
The proposed trails will utilize old roads and says Coun. Nigel Kitto, will relieve some pressure on the Kimberley Nature Park, as they will be mountain bike trails. Kitto said that there was adequate volunteer help to ensure they were maintained properly.
The trails would be under the auspices of Recreation Sites and Trails BC and the City has asked to be part of the ongoing application review process.
Oakley acknowledged they add to the tourist product.
Coun. Sandra Roberts said that with trails approaching 100 kilometres, Kimberley now had almost as much trail product to monitor as streets.
“And we’re not doing too well with streets,” she said.
Coun. Kent Goodwin said that the Integrated Watershed Committee was the best vehicle for the city to move watershed concerns.
Those concerns arose again later in the meeting with the Mark Creek roads proposal.
BC Timber Sales has advised the City that they are planning cutblocks and roads for the Mark Creek watershed. The City will be sending them a letter outlining their concerns.
Goodwin said that in the past the City has been able to change the shape of things when these proposals come up.
“This is exactly the concern I have with us having no teeth. It’s a grave concern,” Oakley said. “If we end up with a serious sediment problem, there is nothing to hold them to account.”
Kimberley Mayor don McCormick said the issue was best approached with science rather than emotion.