Why we need a land use plan
In the 1990's and early 2000's the BC government undertook a very lengthy and comprehensive land use planning process called LRMP (Land and Resource Management Plan). Most of the Province managed to put together these plans, which brought all stakeholders to one table (Forestry, Environmentalists, First Nations, Residents, Mining, Tourism, Recreation, etc. ), and they negotiated for a comprehensive plan taking all stakeholders requests into account and coming up with a compromise that made everyone equally unhappy. Since then, much of the land use disputes have subsided in most of the Province. When it came to the Sunshine Coast, for various reasons I won't get into, the process was abandoned.
In 2018, the Shishalh First Nation signed their historic Foundation agreement with the Province, ushering in a new era of co-governance of their territory, or Swiya. As a result, a renewed call for a comprehensive land use plan resulted, and the provincial government is gearing up to start a land use planning process. Compared to the LRMP, the First Nation will have a much more prominent role, being considered as an equal partner to the provincial government within their territory.
My hope in this land use planning process is that we can finally reduce the conflicts around land use we have had in the past. The Roberts Creek OCP would like to see a park created on the slopes of Mt. Elphinstone. Gibsons and the SCRD would like their drinking water sources protected (although Gibsons and the new Church Rd well are in Squamish territory), environmentalists would like to protect critical habitats (like old-growth areas and some species at risk), and tourists and recreational users would like to use our beautiful landscape for hiking, biking and camping, among other activities. There is a real opportunity for everyone to be heard and for everyone to be considered in this new comprehensive land use plan.
What is crucial in order to be included and considered is that hard data is needed. I therefore urge all organizations that have a vested interest in our land use to make sure that data is collected to support your argument. Collect number of visitors, the number of species at risk, the age of old growth trees, the economic impact of tourism, the health benefits of hiking and being in nature, the carbon sequestration provided by forests, the ecosystem services, the erosion control, the groundwater absorption and anything and everything that will support your argument.
There is a website by the BC government regarding the Shishalh land use planning process, including opportunities for public input, so make sure to check it out.