The motion was recently subject to legal scrutiny after a national park supporter suggested that Councillor Jack Bennest was in a potential conflict for introducing the motion for debate. The Town’s lawyer cleared Bennest of any conflict.
The motion suggests council encourage more dialogue with local stakeholders, including First Nations, toward the goal of better- managed wilderness areas.
The motion encourages the use of the outdoors for historic and traditional uses of many areas for mining, ranching, hunting, business, forestry and recreation.
In the end, council agreed to remove two words from the motion – mining and forestry.
Mayor Ron Hovanes, who voted against the motion, said he doesn’t see the need for council to take a position on the national park issue.
“I don’t think our influence is worth a hill of beans,” Hovanes said.
Councillor Petra Veintimilla also voted against the motion. She wanted to remove the words “to acquire land” from the motion, but that “unfriendly amendment” wasn’t supported.
Veintimilla said passing the motion is like giving the province a “pat on the back” when public opinion clearly supports a national park.
Councillors Larry Schwartzenberger, Maureen Doerr and Bennest supported the motion with the minor change.
Bennest said the motion simply encourages better land management.
Schwartzenberger called it a “motherhood issue” where the Town does not have jurisdiction over. He noted there are many other options in protecting endangered species, such as the Nature Trust of BC.
Schwartzenberger made the friendly amendment to remove the words mining and forestry from the motion.
“I don’t think these fit well with preserving endangered species and grasslands.”
Doerr, who admitted she is a rancher’s daughter, said it’s time the “yes” and “no” side put all of this conflict to bed.
“This divisive issue is really tearing our town apart.”
Check next week’s Chronicle for the full story.