Mt. Cartier heli-biking tenure referred to province without moratorium recommendation

Council supports recommendation for the creation of a land-use management plan, forwards a list of concerns to provincial authorities, but decides a moratorium on new tenures or tenure applications is taking it too far.

Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo: Mountain biking on the Mt. Cartier trail. Photo by Matthew Timmins

Wandering Wheels owner Matt Yaki says he’s pleased with the outcome of a recent Revelstoke City Council decision on his application for tenure on the Mt. Cartier Trail. The company runs guided mountain biking tours tours in the area and wants to expand its tenure to Mt. Cartier to run tours, including heli-biking tours that drop groups of cyclists near the summit to descend the peak located just south of Revelstoke.

Following their May 9 discussion, Revelstoke City Council will send a referral letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLiNRO) outlining key concerns from the Economic Development Commission (EDC) and the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC), but they did not support the environmental committee’s recommendation for a moratorium on “any new tenure applications or approvals” until a regional land use planning process happens.

“I think overall the meeting went well, they were receptive to what I had to say,” Yaki said. “I’m relieved the city aspect is over. I’m looking forward to seeing what they submit.”

During his presentation, Yaki addressed a number of concerns outlined in a city report, which included input from the EDC and the EAC. The concerns included limited parking, lack of washrooms, impacts on wildlife and water quality, trail erosion, and sedimentation of alpine streams. Yaki said he thought there was validity in many of the key concerns brought forward.

Watch the May 8 Revelstoke City Council meeting discussion on the tenure application here:

Mayor Mark McKee said he felt Yaki successfully addressed key concerns in both his application and council presentation.

“It think the proponent has put together a very good proposal. It’s up to the ministry to look at it and decide,” he said.

City economic development director Nicole Fricot reiterated during the May 8 council meeting that the city is only able to act as a referral agent and that the provincial government has final say. The city originally received the request for comments from the province. In April, council asked the two committees to provide recommendations on the application. A combined city staff report included a number of differing recommendations from the two groups.

One of the most controversial recommendations came from the EAC. They requested city council make a recommendation to the province for a moratorium on any new tenure applications or approvals until a proposed land use planning process takes place.

Provincially-led local land use plans outside of city limits have long been a goal of some local governments. A staff report cited 10 requests from local governments dating back to 1989 for the province to take a lead on creating land use plans. In Revelstoke, controversies surrounding competing recreation, resource and environmental concerns pop up regularly, causing divisive controversies, but in the end the decisions most often rest with distant bureaucrats.

Council voted to reiterate its support a recent motion from the Southern Interior Local Government Association by including much if its wording in the referral letter to FLinRO. The letter will request that FLiNRO, “take a leadership role in supporting a community-based, collaborative land use planning process.”

Councillor Scott Duke was the sole vote against forwarding the EDC’s recommendation to FLiNRO, saying a letter from city council carries a lot of weight and could negatively impact Wandering Wheels’s application.

Councillor Linda Nixon was the only vote in support of the environmental committee’s call for a moratorium on new tenure applications or or approvals. Nixon, who sits on the EAC, said the EAC’s request for a moratorium was only intended to include Mt. Cartier. Nixon said FLinRO has an established matrix of conflict to gauge the impacts of hiking and biking on trails, but that no such matrix currently exists for heli-biking. She also said that FLiNRO should be looking at existing tenure on Mt. Cartier prior to allowing additional tenures on the trail.

Yaki said he supports the need for a land use management plan and has already been in discussions with a local provincial recreation officer to work with stakeholders to create a land management plan specifically for the Mt. Cartier Trail. Yaki said he hopes to create level playing field for users and to develop adequate maintenance plans which would include financial contributions from commercial operators on the trail, including unguided heli-charters. Yaki said he wasn’t surprised to find council wasn’t supportive of the suggested moratorium.