BC Parks is part of the Ministry of Environment and is responsible for the designation, management and conservation of a system of provincial parks, ecological reserves, conservancies, protected areas and recreation areas located throughout the province. In 2014, they invited citizens to provide input on a new policy that would improve major ski resorts within Cypress, Mount Seymour and E.C. Manning Provincial Parks.
The draft Ski Resort Policy provided guidance on aspects of ski resort and ski resort permit management not previously addressed through other policies or legislation. A policy on ski resorts within BC’s provincial park system is intended to help guide management of these areas as well as the administration of the park use permit requirements.
The new policy, which includes elements from government guidelines already defined for ski areas outside of provincial parks, establishes consistent direction for all three resort operations. It also improves management, addresses new business opportunities and gives operators tools to adapt to changing needs and climate conditions.
Each of the ski resorts currently operate independently under park use permits. These permits authorize the activities of the resorts, and the communication and planning processes within park boundaries. The Province invited input from First Nations, stakeholders such as adventure and tourism groups, and ski hill users to further develop this policy.
May 16 to June 29, 2014; an additional opportunity for input on a draft policy was open from March 6 to April 21, 2015.
There were 85 comments received during the review and comment period. Most comments were submitted through the online form, although 6 were received through other means (email, letter). A large proportion of public comments were from users of the Nordic facilities at Hollyburn, part of Cypress Mountain Resort. Forty two of the 85 comments, nearly half, explicitly discussed Hollyburn and the facilities there. For more information on the input received throughout the consultation, please see the Public Response Summary and Themes Report on the Intentions Paper, and the Summary of Public Comment on the draft policy.
Input Leads to Action:
Comments received on the Intentions Paper were used to develop a draft policy. The draft policy expanded on the proposed outline in the Intentions Paper to include specific sections on resort planning, the connection to park management plans, and how proposals for new activities would be evaluated. Comments on the draft policy regarding the scope of policy, and consultation as part of resort planning or for major changes to operations, and how resort planning would coordinate with overall park plans, were used to provide additional clarity in the final draft.
The new BC Parks Ski Resort Policy was approved on October 30, 2015, and was updated to include wording that clarifies the scope of the policy and the mechanisms by which park and permit area access are managed. The policy addresses the management of permits for the three Ski Resorts, and is not intended to override or interfere with a park management plan that is approved for each park and which considers broad public recreational use. Visitor access and capacity of parks is managed through park management planning processes, and it is BC Parks standard policy that park management plan development or amendment processes involve public consultation. The policy does include public consultation requirements in the resort development planning processes for the Ski Resorts. Requirements for access through Permit Areas and to the park in general will be managed through these planning processes and will be considered in permit conditions.