A recent Y2Y-commissioned report for the Columbia River headwaters aims to spark discussion on how to balance the economy and environment.
“If we want a balance between the two, lets get the challenges out on the table,” said Candace Batycki, director at Y2Y.
The study’s intention is to be a starting point and a foundation for residents as they think about what future they would like to live in and be a part of.
The study area is from Invemere and Kaslo northwards through Revelstoke to Kinbasket Lake.
|The City of Revelstoke was one of many organizations that took part in the study. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
Batycki said the environment and economy go hand-in-hand, particularly in Revelstoke.
Researchers in the study interviewed more than 30 community leaders in the region, five specifically from Revelstoke, such Ingrid Bron, director of community economic development at the City of Revelstoke, Mike Copperthwaite, general manager of Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation and former mayor Geoff Battersby.
In the study, one aspect identified as significantly lacking is a proper land-use plan, one that is locally driven to reflects local values and knowledge. It would also help avoid conflict between recreational users, losses of biodiversity and could contribute to addressing the rising cost of living and lack of affordable housing states the report.
It furthered that resource management, such as logging and the expansion of tourism/recreation, is causing challenges for vulnerable species like wolverines and mountain caribou.
“The Upper Columbia has outstanding natural capital assets, a skilled and educated workforce and a diverse set of industries that drive the local economies. Nonetheless, the region’s future should not be constrained by its history,” said Gary Bull, professor at UBC, in a news release. He was the lead researcher on the study.
According to the majority of interviewees, recreation in the area is already at its threshold and its continual increase will likely lead to conflict between users, thereby degrading the outdoor experience.
One of the most pressing issues identified is the decline of five caribou herds in the region.
“Nothing that has been tried to date has been successful in forestalling the decline of these herds,” states the report.
The study noted there is “a noticeable absence” of Indigenous participation in the regional economy and recommended community leaders to engage more often with First Nations.
As Revelstoke becomes a destination for adventure tourism, the study notes this may create more tension between industry and ecological preservation. According to the report, adventure tourism is premised on the promise of “being out in the unspoiled backcountry”, yet resource extraction may be putting that premise at risk.
Forestry is still one of the main employers in Revelstoke. However, tourism is booming.
The study gives several examples of other areas that have developed a thriving tourism industry based on its natural resources, such as Costa Rica, which protects almost a third of its land. By comparison, roughly 10 per cent of Canada is protected.
The report ends with the question: How many and what types of tourists does the area want to attract?
Since the study is now public, Batycki said she hopes people will use it to build the future they want.
“Hopefully it will bring people together.”