Concerns are running as high as king tidal waters that the gates to Kloiya Bay may soon be closed if a private-sector sale of the property occurs.
Prince Rupert and Port Edward officials are calling on the province to purchase the recently listed property to be used for park and recreational opportunities. It is the only beachfront remaining in the region with access to ocean saltwater where families can safely swim and picnic, Knut Bjorndal mayor of Port Edward said, on April 24.
Due to industry expansion in recent years the region has lost much valuable waterfront access for families to enjoy, said Bjorndal. The property is currently listed for sale and is under private ownership, with a current lease agreement in place to a small outdoor business.
“There’s no other waterfront access … it’s absolutely pristine. We’re hoping that we can prevail on BC Parks or otherwise to acquire it for a public space,” the Port Ed mayor said. “Even before I was mayor 12 years ago, I felt that it was a valuable piece of recreational land in the public domain.”
“My concern is that if it falls into private hands again we may lose our opportunity to acquire it,” he said.
Prince Rupert City Councillor Barry Cunningham said he knows Kloiya Bay is an important spot for locals with fishing, crabbing, swimming and family times. He said he believes it is also a salmon run and is looking into that for environmental purposes.
“The thing is, we have fewer and fewer places to get to the seashore, and Kloiya Bay is one of the ones that we still can still get to the ocean shore and have a picnic,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham suggested it is a great time for the provincial government to take the opportunity to use some of the recently announced $83 million for park funding to acquire and preserve the land for local park use.
The environment ministry announced on April 16 that during the next three years new campsites, expanded trails, and strengthened management of the park system will benefit from more than $83 million in combined funding towards the capital and operational budgets.
“The BC Parks capital budget will increase by an average of 57 per cent and the operating budget will increase by an average of 22 per cent for each year of Budget 2021,” a media release stated.
Bjorndal said that advocates for the land to be made parkland need all the help they can get. He said has already spoken to North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice about the situation.
Requests for comment to North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice’s office went unanswered, however, the Ministry of Environment spokesperson David Karn responded to The Northern View in an April 24 email.
“BC Parks regularly receives requests and solicitations to invest in or otherwise acquire lands to become part of the province’s parks and protected areas system,” Karn stated. “However, BC Parks’ annual budget directed to making strategic investments to acquire private lands across the province remains very small relative to the scope of these requests and solicitations.”
Karn stated even in cases where the acquisition of land by BC Parks might incur no immediate cost such as a gift of land, there will still be significant and ongoing costs in respect of the establishment and long-term sustainability.
“These costs must be responsibly considered in any decision-making about whether to acquire a property in the first instance,” the ministry spokesperson stated.
Land will only be considered for strategic investment if certain conditions apply, Karn explained, such as land bordered on all sides by parks or parcels immediately adjacent to existing parks where development of these lands would negatively impact park values; lands that address operational needs such as park access or boundary rationalization; and lands that enhance the values of existing protected areas by improving connectivity within or among existing parks and protected areas, increasing climate change resilience of existing parks or supporting the planned expansion of recreation opportunities such as camping.
“Much less frequently, acquisitions are targeted at securing lands with recreational, cultural or conservation values of provincial significance that are not associated with an existing park or protected area in order to secure lands with high recreational, cultural or conservation values of provincial significance.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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