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The BC Government is working with the Union of BC Municipalities to find more ways that resource roads can be used for the benefit of communities. The Outdoor Recreation Council and its members were invited to participate in a discussion hosted by the Ministry of Communities and Rural Development as well as the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

On March 18, I attended a meeting in Vancouver, hosted by Ray Schultz (Ministry of Community Development), John Hawkings (Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts), and Jeremy McCall (Executive Director - Outdoor Recreation Council of BC), joining a wide ranging representation of motorized and non-motorized recreation groups as we presented our perspectives of resource road management issues.

The main purpose of the meeting was to gain input from recreation users about the value of resource roads throughout the province and the impact deactivation of these roads has on our recreation opportunities and experiences. Without exception, the participants in the meeting were absolutely opposed to the current approach of having government and/or industry deactivate and otherwise block access to crown land via these roads.

Concerns discussed include:

1. The cost of maintaining resource roads
2. The liability associated with retaining resource roads
3. The costs of deactivating these roads
4. The environmental impact of roads (specifically erosion issues)
5. Poor coordination in resource road management between various agencies involved
6. Poor government/industry consultation with stakeholders when determining disposition of a resource
7. The definition and standard of “deactivated” roads
8. Unclear delineation between “Highways”, “Forest Service Roads” and resource roads

Discussed solutions included the merits/challenges associated with:

1. An alternative for funding, including a “deactivation fee” which may fund future maintenance for the roads
2. Assumed Risk legislation as an attempt to limit the liability exposure
3. Alternative funding approaches, including possible user-pay structures
4. Alternative approaches for deactivation (hydrological stabilization)

Overall, the discussion focused on the impact felt by all recreation groups as a result of resource road deactivation and the fact that the recreation community believes that the network of roads is of significant value, both in terms of revenue generation within the province as well as from a community well being standpoint.

The points discussed in this and other similar meetings will be carried forward into future MofCRD/UBCM discussions with the objective of putting forward concrete recommendations for legislative consideration later this year.

Steve Dillen
President, Four Wheel Drive Association of BC

Jump to original article at www.4wdabc.com.
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