By PATRICIA LOCKIE
While applauding the support for investigative journalism expressed by the writers of “Background info provides Burgoyne context” (Feb. 17 Driftwood), it is disappointing to note that they themselves ignore one of the first principles of that discipline, namely, check your sources and the veracity of the information given.
Most journalists that I have known and worked with would argue that this applies especially when dealing with government sources of information.
The writers claim that BC Parks made the choice not to reinstall a bridge on a multi-use trail in Burgoyne “after consultation with the Salt Spring Trail and Nature Club and local equestrians.” This is false. BC Parks did not seek advice or counsel, and did not take into consideration the concerns or ideas of interested parties prior to commencement of work on the trails. In the case of the “local equestrians,” BC Parks responded to emails sent by two concerned trail users after changes to the trail system had already begun.
It was a reactive approach, as opposed to the proactive stance BC Parks purports to foster. In effect, BC Parks said to both the Trail and Nature Club and to trail riders: This is what’s happening and, unfortunately, multi-use trail capacity will have to be sacrificed.
It is true that Trail and Nature Club representatives were invited to fix the problem by mapping alternative trail routings, which they did. Again, this happened after the key decisions to undertake changes to multi-use trails had been made. So far, none of the suggested alternate trail routes have been accepted by BC Parks.
The interesting aspect of the bridge is that a replacement has been installed, which the writers fail to mention. The new version is for pedestrians only, thereby eliminating the multi-use trail function. Had there been true consultation with trail riders — a key user group identified as such in BC Parks’ own management plan — a different, more inclusive design would surely have been seriously considered.
Budgetary restraints have been mentioned as one of the explanations for the new model. Again, had there been authentic consultation in a timely fashion, groups such as the Horse Council of B.C. and the Back Country Horsemen of B.C. could have been enlisted for their decades-long trail building expertise and funding potential, as witnessed in other provincial and regional parks.
So, yes, let’s indeed encourage our local media to “take a deeper dive” into what is happening in Burgoyne Bay/Xwaaqw’um Provincial Park. In my opinion, the Driftwood editorial of Jan. 26 was a good start in the call for greater transparency and accountability by BC Parks.
The writer is a member of the Salt Spring Trail Riders group.