It has been a busy summer for WTA directors addressing the issues affecting our members:
WTA Board Members Breanne Quesnel (Vice-President of the WTA) and Kathy MacRae (Board member) were chosen to be part of a council of tourism representatives that help to focus the work and efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and Honourable Minister Lisa Beare. This is an incredibly positive way to work directly with the ministry on the issues effecting wilderness tourism operators.
The WTA has been opposed to open net Salmon farming for many years. Open net salmon farming impacts on the marine environment by introducing and concentrating contaminants on the ocean floor, causing Atlantic salmon escapes as well as potential disease introduction and lice transfer. Collectively this impacts on marine based tourism businesses like whale watching, fishing and the marine ecological system in general. The WTA, First Nations communities, North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association and others advocated for government not to renew the open net tenures throughout BC’s coast in favour of offering fish farm operators assistance to transition to closed containment systems on land.
While government’s recent decision to defer the renewal of tenures in the Broughton Archipelago after further consultation with First Nations and the federal government is considered a partial victory, there is more that needs to be done to move the salmon farm industry to a more sustainable environmental footprint. The WTA continues to work with several organizations to make this change happen. Stay tuned!
The WTA has continued its work on changing forest stewardship practices around the province on two fronts. First, the WTA board directors are engaged in local forestry planning processes on the North Island to have tourism values recognized in forestry planning and harvesting. The second is through the efforts of the Adventure Tourism Strategy Coalition (At Strategy) who are advocating provincially for changes to the forest practices regulations. The AT Strategy are wanting a legal requirement for forest licensees and decision makers to consider and or protect recognized tourism values in forestry planning and management. At present there is no requirement to do so although some licensee’s do this on a good will basis.
Achieving the changes to regulations has been a slow process as there appears to be little appetite on the part of government to have this discussion. Forestry impacts continue to be the number one issue with rural tourism operations around the province. Until there is an obligation to consider values other than forestry related little will change as forest licensees have no obligation to do more than what is required under regulation.
The WTA has been opposed both the Enbridge and Trans Mountain pipeline projects and made submissions to both processes in the past. The under-laying rationale of significant environmental impacts were identical for both, however, they differed in terms of where those impacts occurred. The WTA opposed the Enbridge project due to its potential for high risk terrestrial and marine environmental impacts (on tourism values and the environment). The federal review process came to the same conclusion and the project was not approved.
The WTA conditionally opposed the Trans Mountain Pipeline because of its potential marine impacts. We did not believe that the risks associated with the increased tanker traffic were adequately considered in the decision process. The National energy Board determined that consideration of marine impacts was beyond the scope of the review. The WTA did not agree with this perspective and made its case through a second submission and presentation at the supplementary hearings held by federal cabinet appointees.
Its was gratifying to see the courts came to the same conclusion as the WTA and ordered the government to redo this portion of the review. We wait to see what level of engagement will occur while the NEB goes back to consider the marine impacts and how to address them. The WTA will be looking for options that substantially lower the risk spills and negative marine traffic/marine wildlife interaction, establishment of robust spill response capacity, clarity of accountability for sill response and compensation, the provision of a substantive financial safety net for third parties that are impacted from a spill incident. More to come!
We will be sending members the dates, venue and agenda for the WTA AGM shortly. The WTA board has decided to move to a more interactive format to engage the membership in discussion on issues that are important to them. For travel convenience of our members, we are considering holding the AGM January 18th and 19th in Victoria, which precedes the Impact Sustainability Travel Tourism conference (www.tourismvictoria.com/impac)
The WTA was successful in securing funds through the Tides Foundation and Marine Planning Partnership to gather information from tourism operators on the North island, Central Coast, North Coast and Haida Gwaii. This information will be collated and provided to the federal marine protected areas planning process that is currently under in these marine regions. For more information contact Scott Benton at 250 655 4103, firstname.lastname@example.org or Robin Potter at email@example.com.
The new WTA website is nearing competition. This process has taken longer than anticipated and we appreciate all of your patience. The work has largely been done through volunteer hours so a big shout out to all those who have contributed!
We want to hear about your concerns on land use issues affecting your business. We are here to help you work with government and others to either prevent issues form arising or resolve them so they don’t get repeated. We need your help to spread the word about the WTA and what we are doing to make all wilderness tourism businesses viable for the long term. Encourage others to sign up for our newsletter and become a member.
Have you renewed your membership? WTA program delivery requires effort and financial support. We are looking for both if you can help us out.
Have an issue land use and or resource management issue you want resolved that’s what we are here for. let us know the details and we will be glad to help you out. Contact Us. We want to hear from you 250 655 4103 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome New WTA Members :
Thank you to all current and future members for your continued support of the Wilderness Tourism Association