BC Hydro is being pressured to step up enforcement on the Columbia River Flats south of Revelstoke.
Revelstoke city council is being asked to make two requests of the crown corporation relating to the area. The first is for BC Hydro to provide funding to hire an enforcement officer for the area. The second is to reconvene the advisory committee for the area.
Both requests stem from a recent letter by the North Columbia Environmental Society asking for a ban on motorized recreation on the Flats.
The first request comes from the City of Revelstoke’s Economic Committee. They want council to write a letter to BC Hydro asking for funding for additional enforcement services on the Flats.
The second request comes from the city’s Environmental Advisory Committee. At its June 10 meeting, they forwarded a resolution to council asking BC Hydro to reconvene the Upper Arrow Drawdown Zone Advisory Committee (UADZAC) following three years of idleness.
Council will consider both requests at its next meeting on Tuesday, June 23.
Enforcement of regulations on the Flats has long been a thorny issue due to the mixed jurisdiction in the area. BC Hydro owns 63 per cent of the land, 34 per cent is considered Crown land, and the rest is owned by various other stakeholders, including the City of Revelstoke and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
Enforcement is done by different agencies. The Conservation Officer Service enforces fish and wildlife violations. The Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations can enforce violations of the Forest & Range Practices Act on Crown land, but not on private land. BC Hydro can pursue charges against people on its land under the Trespass Act.
However, there is no single set of rules or agency in charge of the whole area. That’s where the UADZAC comes in. It was established to create a management plan for the area. According to a staff report by Alan Mason, the city’s director of economic development, the plan was completed in 2005 but it never left draft form because some stakeholder groups didn’t sign off on it.
A steering committee was formed to help implement the plan, but it hasn’t met for three years. The Environmental Advisory Committee wants BC Hydro to reconvene the steering committee so it can renew its mission of addressing issues on the Flats.
Loni Parker, the director for Area B Rural Revelstoke, has already penned a letter to BC Hydro asking for $125,000 to help with enforcement.
“Recently, Revelstoke and Area lost our Conservation Officers as they were deployed to Golden and the RCMP does not have the mandate on BC Hydro lands or adequate manpower to deal effectively with Drawdown Zone complaints,” Parker wrote. “Natural Resource Officers will be able to deal with some of the issues but clearly we need a tailor made solution.”
The Flats are a popular recreation are for Revelstokians during the Spring, however concerns have been raised over some activities like mud bogging, as well as the amount of trash left behind by campers and partiers.