A hearing with the volunteers who upgraded the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is now being planned following a provincial investigation into the redevelopment of the structure.
Volunteers with the project have been told their actions could result in a fine of $10,000 and demolition of the structure.
In October 2017, the province launched an investigation into the restoration of the cabin after volunteers took on the project with what they say was verbal approval from the Ministry of Forests manager.
In a previous interview with the Observer, volunteer Rene St. Onge said he attempted to acquire provincial approval to reconstruct the cabin, but was told by a manager with FrontCounter BC in Kamloops it wasn’t needed because the work would be done on an existing structure.
“What they need to do is say, ‘you know what, there was a miscommunication,’” said St. Onge. “‘There was permission for this cabin, it’s beautiful, thank you very much.’ That’s all you need to do.”
The cabin sits an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet, atop a rugged, rocky mountain peak. The cabin is a 14- by 14-foot engineered refurbishment of the original Eagle Pass Summit fire lookout, originally constructed in 1922. Carried out over the past two years by volunteers and donations, this reconstruction project was the subject of concern for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development when it was discovered the work was done without official permits.
A stop work order was issued on Sept. 5, 2017 by the ministry, and applied to “all persons undertaking construction activities on this building.”
In a statement from the ministry, the next step will be an “opportunity to be heard” hearing in May and, following that, a statutory decision-maker will consider all the evidence and determine whether the cabin should be removed or modified and the site remediated.
“At their discretion, the statutory decision-maker could also impose administrative penalties of up to $10,000,” says the ministry statement.
“The ministry is unable to provide further comment until this hearing process is complete.”