Parksville Qualicum Fish & Game Assn
April 25, 2017
It has been almost a year since I distributed a BCWF report to the membership. There is no explanation for this other than reports from any of our Club Committees to our general membership have been few and far between. Possibly, our club has become so large that the sub-cutures that have developed tend to communicate most with those who share their primary interest and ignore the rest of our membership. Still, the majority of our members do care how all the components of our club are doing.
The BCWF has a database of email addresses that club members have included in their contact information. These members get a weekly member update so a lot of BCWF information does get out there, at least, to those who want it. My job will be to fill in some blanks with that, hopefully, with some consistency. I also have to confess it is Beth, our newsletter person, who is nagging us back to action with our reporting.
Last weekend our club sent delegates to the BCWF Region 1 AGM held at the Courtenay club facility on Comox Lake. There are 17 Vancouver Island clubs forming Region 1 with delegates from Victoria to Campbell River in attendance. All the committees, Tidal Fisheries, Access, Firearms, Aboriginal Relations, etc reported on their activity over the last quarter. The major item of discussion on the agenda was around access to private lands here on V.I. There is actually a bit of controversy going on within club ranks around a consistent position in discussions with logging companies regarding increased public access to their lands.
Basically, the difference comes down to an absence of a clear Region policy, supported by all the V.I. clubs, regarding public access to private land. The BCWF, Provincially and Regionally, have always advocated for public access to public lands but, other than the BCWF Outdoor Passport Program for access to private lands by BCWF members, there is no clear policy regarding advocacy for general public access to those same lands.
Logging companies have increased their outreach to local F&G clubs, ATV clubs, fisherfolks, horse people, etc in the recent past. Their focus has been, understandably, on groups that have demonstrated responsible use of our landscape most with liability coverage for their members. Usually these invitations have been to local clubs separate from the V.I. Region who has been the spokesman for us. This has resulted in some disconnect between the V.I Region Access Committee and some clubs with the Victoria F&G club negotiating an access agreement for their members only exclusive of other BCWF affiliated club members. This separation is contrary to the principle of inclusion which is at the very heart of BCWF service to its members.
Unqualified access to the general public has been a non-starter for any private land owner and any group advocating this starts out on the wrong foot in discussions with private land holders regarding access to their properties. Some conditions to accessing private lands can be negotiated; others must be accepted and restrictions on who is admissible are to be expected.
Our club has ongoing discussion with Island Timberlands around access to their lands. We have leaned towards access for any BCWF member, not just our club members in the expectation that a neighbouring club would speak likewise. As a club we have good intuition regarding private landowners interests and been fairly silent on access for the general public. Our Region representatives, however, are more vocal about allowing access on a broader scale. So far we are all getting along but it would be a sad day if the clubs get Balkanized by different agreements on access to Private lands. All the clubs, except the Victoria club it would seem, realize this and support getting together with our Regional representatives to review the current policy around access to private lands for mutual support.
This subject is currently the main subject of discussion and action by the F&G clubs on Vancouver Island.
Rod Wiebe, Past President PQF&G 1992 – 1998