Council weighs competing interests in caribou snowmobile closures

City council has opted to further “massage” a letter to the B.C. forests minister regarding recent expanded mountain caribou closures in the Revelstoke area.

City council has opted to further “massage” a letter to the B.C. forests minister regarding recent expanded mountain caribou closures in the Revelstoke area.

In early August, council had voted to support the Snowmobile Revelstoke Society’s lobby efforts against new snowmobile closures announced by the province earlier this year. In a split decision, they opted to write a letter of concern.

At their Sept. 13 meeting, city council discussed a letter from the North Columbia Environmental Society which asked them to support the closures.

Coun. Antoinette Halberstadt urged support for the closures. “It seems to me each time the city has commented on the closures, we only focus on the short-term economic impact,” she said, adding that “long-term sustainability” was often overlooked, calling the stance “short-sighted.”

Coun. Chris Johnston said council shouldn’t take sides on the matter, but he felt council should take the opportunity to remind the provincial government about local interests. “Sometimes I feel that Victoria or Vancouver forget how life actually happens in the hinterland,” he noted.

Council was commenting on a draft letter signed by the mayor. It references local concerns expressed by the snowmobile and environmental groups. “It could use some massaging,” Coun. Phil Welock said of the letter. “We shouldn’t take sides but we have to get our point across.”

In the end, council agreed to re-draft the letter and bring it back to council for approval.

Mayor David Raven noted that in the end, it was just a letter to the provincial government.

“I would caution we don’t get ourselves caught in the bite of this one” Raven said. “We can make our positions known, but that’s about it.”



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