City Supports Old Glory Community Tenure

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
January 29th, 2009

Initiated at the Friends of the Rossland Range AGM back on November 19th, the society is currently working with the BC government towards an application to establish community tenure in the Old Glory Alpine area. The land in question lies between the existing Red Resorts commercial tenure and the Big Red Cats commercial tenure along Highway 3B. Such a tenure would fall under the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands-Crown Land Allocation program for the historic Old Glory Alpine recreation area as well as the cabin areas straddling Strawberry pass.

For years this area has been used extensively for recreation by locals and tourists alike. In the winter, backcountry skiers of all ability levels can find fantastic mountainous terrain to explore and enjoy and in the summer hikers, bikers and horsemen take advantage of the various trails and cabins in the area which is home to the Seven Summits, Plewman and Old Glory trails along with many others.

In a letter from the Friends of the Rossland Range signed by Kim Dean, Bob Bechaud and Stew Spooner (directors of the FORR) they note “[The Old Glory Alpine Area] is important to Rossland and the surrounding towns for recreation, an amenity which in turn drives major economic benefits from tourism, new investment, new residents and recruitment of new employees. It is also a source of the City’s drinking water.”

Permitted uses in the proposed community tenure to be managed would be less impactful on the land than the uses of surrounding land by Red Resort and Big Red Cats but would include logging, mining and trapping. A major focus for the tenure would be on improving the summer and winter trails, access, signage, parking and accessibility. The group is also contemplating some thinning and pruning of trees and brush in certain areas to improve self-propelled backcountry skiing.

In the past large sections of this area were included in the former Nancy Greene Recreation area which was dissolved years ago, leaving the area largely unprotected from uses that may not necessarily jibe with the community’s interests.

If established, the new tenure would be managed by a special committee set up under the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society in order to take advantage of their trails mandate and insurance coverage. While no such tenures currently exist in BC, talks with the provincial government have determined that legislation does exist to provide for community tenures that do not return direct revenues to the government.

Breaking new ground in the world of land tenures, the advisory group set up to guide the process plans to proceed step-by-step along with interested parties such as the City of Rossland and various stakeholders in the community to determine if this indeed is the best course of action with which to protect the valued recreation area.

Coming before council this past Monday night was a letter from the Friends of the Rossland Range outlining their general plan for the area, plans on how to best move forward, and a request for support from Rossland City Council for their efforts. The group supplied a sample draft letter of support to be edited or signed as-is by the city. This letter was unanimously approved on Monday night.

In a follow up motion to approving the letter of support, Laurie Charlton applauded the efforts of the group, backing what they are doing and suggesting additional ideas on ways to protect the area.

“I certainly like the approach that the FORR are taking, but there are no guaranties that they will be successful. As an alternative, but not exclusionary approach, there was some discussion at the AGM of the FORR that there may be a possibility of establishing a joint regional municipal park which would provide some additional protection within that area where we would have more control within our boundaries than the community tenure would supply, and the Regional District would have more control and influence on the area inside their area. It might be an alternative to the old Nancy Greene recreation area, so I’d like to move that the city explore the possibility in conjunction with the regional district in setting up a joint regional municipal park in the Old Glory alpine area.”

Councillor Jill Spearn noted she would vote against the additional motion for the fact that at this time she did not believe it would be a wise decision to bog down the city staff with additional work on this project.

Councillor Moore echoed that statement and suggested that while it may not be prudent to add this additional work to city staff’s plate, she would be perfectly happy to have Councillor Charlton do some research on his own and report back to council with his findings.

The motion to formally explore the possibility of developing a regional park was defeated.

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