Tetrahedron Provincial Park Under Threat
A proposal to take the park status away from this Class A provincial park threatens the long-term ecological and recreational values that this it was created to protect. CPAWS-BC has a long history with Tetrahedron Provincial Park, including campaigning for its creation back in 1995. Together with local conservation groups from the Sunshine Coast, we’re sounding the alarms to let BC Parks and the BC Ministry of Environment that our important protected areas should not be dismantled.
Tetrahedron Provincial Park was designated in 1995 as a Class A park (lands dedicated to the preservation of their natural environments for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public). Tetrahedron is 6,000 hectares of mid-elevation forests and mountain peaks and contains one of the oldest undisturbed forests in Canada with stands containing trees over 1,000 years old. Located between Sechelt and Salmon Inlets, this park is part of the precious 3% of the Sunshine Coast Forest District that is protected in Class A parks.
The Tetrahedron Provincial Park Management Plan outlines the vision of this park, which was created to, “ensure a high level of water quality and quantity for the residents of the Sunshine Coast while preserving the integrity of the park’s natural, cultural and diverse ecosystems, maintaining its educational and spiritual values, and providing limited backcountry recreational experiences.”
BC Parks is presenting three options, and accepting other options through the public comment and engagement period.
Option 1: Re-designate the entire Tetrahedron Park to a Protected Area
The Park Act still applies to the area, except for exceptions that are outlined by an Order in Council. This protection status is less than a Class A park and could be changed through an Order in Council (including downgraded). The area will be greatly affected by the infrastructure change and potential drawdown of the lake.
Option 2: Re-designate a portion of Tetrahedron Park to a Protected Area, and maintain Class A park status on the rest of the park
Under this proposal, most of the park remains under Class A protection status, however, the ecosystem around the lake would still be affected by the building of the infrastructure and potential drawdown of the lake.
Option 3: Re-designate the entire Tetrahedron Park as a Conservancy
Under this designation, large-scale projects (commercial logging, mining) would continue to not be allowed within this area. However, this option weakens the designation of Conservancy which was created with the explicit intent of protecting First Nations social, cultural and ceremonial uses while maintaining biological diversity.
BC Parks is carrying out a public consultation on three options. These options are to accommodate Sunshine Coast Regional District’s request to upgrade infrastructure that would allow for the further drawdown of Chapman Lake. BC Parks will be collecting feedback on the three options which are put forward until June 8. This has included two open-houses which were held in the Sunshine Coast communities of Sechelt and Roberts Creek. Both of these public in-person consultations were packed with community members, many vocally opposed to all three options. BC Parks staff will be summarized, and a recommendation will be made to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman. Minister Heyman will then make a decision whether or not to forward on a recommendation to re-designate the park to Cabinet. The final decision will then rest with the Legislature.
It is important that the public is informed of the impacts from and alternatives to this proposal. The onus for this work should fall to the proponent before a proposal is considered by BC Parks. Due process would provide the alternatives and associated environmental impacts to the public before they are asked to provide feedback during a consultation process. To date, this has not been carried out rendering this process inadequate.
Threats posed to our shared climate and biodiversity are inextricably linked. BC once has a world-class parks system, yet years of a lack of resources and funding have left it incapable of proper monitoring and management the areas it is meant to defend. This broken system needs you to speak up for it, or our wild treasured places will continue to suffer.
SUBMIT COMMENTS TO BC PARKS USING THE ONLINE COMMENT FORM
(1) What is your level of use in Tetrahedron Park (list activity and frequency of use)?
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s staff and volunteers, past and present, have been using the park since its inception in 1995. From our involvement in the designation of this Class A park to the building of the huts to regular winter snowshoe trips. Our organization has a strong connection to the Tetrahedron Park.
(2) Have you read the Tetrahedron Park Management Plan?
Yes. This management plan clearly states, “The roles of Tetrahedron Provincial Park are to maintain and enhance the area’s water quality and community watersheds for Sunshine Coast residents and preserve its wilderness characteristics by offering limited backcountry recreation opportunities.”
Our interpretation of this plan includes a long-term view of the watershed quality for the community and wildlife to enjoy for generations to come. The proposal to build new infrastructure to further drawdown Chapman Lake would put these long-term values at risk for the community, wildlife and the aquatic ecosystem. This plan was written to preserve the values of the park, including ecological integrity, however, the understanding of climate change impacts would not have been adequately considered or calculated. Protected areas are a tool to for climate change mitigation and adaptation, but the proposal to draw down the lake puts these tools, and the ecosystem, at risk.
(3) What are your general thoughts about re-designation options for Tetrahedron Park?
CPAWS-BC is deeply concerned with the prospect of removing Class A park protection status from this area. The Sunshine Coast Forest District is already limited in the amount of land set aside for nature protection, with only 3% having Class A park area status. The park contains one of the oldest undisturbed forests in Canada with stands containing trees over 1,000 years. To meet Canada’s goal of protecting 17% of our land and inland waters by 2020, it is imperative that important areas set aside to foster and protect biodiversity.
(4) Are there options (or aspects of the options) currently presented by BC Parks that you agree with?
We agree with adding Option 4: maintain Class A park status, as is outlined in the updated information package written in response to an overwhelming number of public comments submitted during the first community meeting.
(5) Are there options (or aspects of the options) currently presented by BC Parks that you disagree with?
Option 1: We strongly disagree with the removal of Class A park status for the entire area. This designation downgrades the level of protection for this ecologically important area.
Option 2: The removal of Class A status from a portion of the park, would still cause negative impacts on the rest of the area which remains within the park. The drawdown of Chapman Lake would be damaging to the ecosystem and integrity of the watershed, including compromising the high-quality fish habitat.
Option 3: We believe that a Conservancy is an inappropriate designation for this area unless it is being proposed by the Shíshálh and Squamish Nations. A Conservancy “explicitly recognizes the importance of these areas to First Nations for social, ceremonial and cultural uses.” To use this designation as a way to expand the industrial use and impacts on the area weakens the intention in which the conservancy designation was created.
(6) Do you have any other comments you would like to provide to BC Parks regarding the Tetrahedron Park re-designation options?
We want to acknowledge the importance of water security for all communities. Chapman Lake is an integral part of this watershed, and at the core of the original vision for the park to “ensure a high level of water quality and quantity for the residents of the Sunshine Coast, while preserving the integrity of the park’s natural, cultural and diverse ecosystems, maintaining its educational and spiritual values, and providing limited backcountry recreational experiences.” The proposal put forward by the SCRD is a short-term solution and the process is not congruent with that which was laid out in the management plan. In addition, the SCRD should complete an analysis of alternatives and impacts to present to BC Parks along with their request. The alternatives and environmental impacts studied by BC Parks or the SCRD have not been publicly disclosed. This lack of transparency and information-sharing degrades the trust and validity of this public consultation process.