Cooler heads needed in Eight Peaks controversy

Cooler heads needed in Eight Peaks controversy

North Thompson Valley residents have a tradition of working together to solve common problems

Putting a screenshot of threatening social media posts on our page one might seem a bit edgy.

After all, the RCMP are apparently investigating the posts for possible charges of uttering threats. As a result of that investigation, Blue River Powder Packers took the posts down off of their Facebook page.

READ MORE: Threats mar Eight Peaks discussion (Jan. 3, 2018)

Why put them back up where the public can see them?

The difference, of course, is the context.

The posts originally were posted on a page frequented by one segment of the population, many of them from outside this area.

Posts on a page that is read mostly by snowmobilers upset about the Eight Peaks proposal are unlikely to meet much critical review. Those offended likely will keep silent. Those at the extreme likely will be encouraged to take the matter further – possibly further even that the people who made the posts originally intended.

This newspaper, on the other hand, is read by a broad cross-section of people living in the upper North Thompson Valley, some of them snowmobilers and/or skiers, some of them not, but all of them with an interest in seeing this valley have a sustainable and prosperous future.

Putting the posts into the newspaper where the local population can see them gives the people who live in this valley the opportunity to decide, yes or no, if this is the way we want to proceed on the issue.

It also makes more people aware of the undercurrents that are circulating inside and outside the valley regarding this question.

There are no easy answers. Any objective observer can see that this province’s land use policies over the past few decades have been a disaster for rural British Columbia.

Blue River School was built to accommodate 132 students. It now has nine. Avola School was built to several dozen students. It is our understanding that there are now no school-age children living in that community. Vavenby School was built to accommodate 166. It now has 10 enrolled.

READ MORE: School District 73 facilities report (Dec. 14, 2017)

Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing is the largest single employer in the Valley, with up to 200 people working there during the winter, and about half that in the summer.

It is one of the few major heli-ski resorts in B.C. that is located in a community. Most are situated on remote mountaintops. It would be a disaster for Blue River if it were to relocate elsewhere.

One of the more polite comments regarding the Eight Peaks controversy was that the writer wanted to preserve his freedom to go to his favorite fishing lake in the summer. Well, he might be free to go to the lake to fish but too bad if he wants to build a cottage or, even worse, create a business there. The government will close him down.

It could be said that this province’s land use policies are designed to benefit the large forest companies but even they don’t like the system.

They are forced to log in areas that are steep and/or remote that probably would be better left as nature reserves (for mountain caribou, for example).

The forest companies almost certainly would be more profitable if they were allowed secure tenure on good growing areas where they could practice intensive silviculture.

The elephant in the room is native land claims. Until we get those settled, no one can do any realistic longterm land use planning.

Even more important is climate change. Unless we take meaningful action to control it, the prediction is that by 2080 there will be sagebrush growing in the valley bottom at Blue River.

What that would mean for skiing and snowmobiling on the adjacent mountains is not clear, but it would not be good.

The people of the North Thompson Valley have a tradition of working together to solve common problems.

We need to draw on that tradition so we can take advantage of this situation and move forward.

Clearwater Times