Vancouver Island backcountry users push to open locked gates


WATCH: Access to B.C.’s increasingly restricted backcountry is a growing issue with outdoors enthusiasts, especially as warming temperatures lure more of us out into nature. In the Alberni Valley Saturday nearly 100 avid users of the woods came together to lobby for change so that the forests will be opened up once again.

Armed with maps of the Island backcountry they love to explore, hunters, hikers and families filled a Port Alberni hall Saturday, trying to regain access to it.

“It’s a way of life, very much a way of life for the people living in Port Alberni and other rural areas on Vancouver Island,” said Judy Carlson of the Alberni Valley Outdoor Club.

“That’s why people that were born here stay here,” said Alberni resident Matt Stabler. “And that’s being taken away from them.”

Gates are increasingly blocking logging roads, that once gave residents freedom to enjoy nature at its most rugged.

“It’s happened over the last 15 (years),” said Stabler. “The gates started going up like they were growing out of the bloody ground. Insanity.”

This group is coming up with ideas to restore the access they’re losing, as forest companies concerned with damage to equipment, illegal dumping and poaching by the few, block the many.

“Being locked out is one thing but I’ve also personally been locked in,” said Alberni resident Mike Kleywegt.

“I used to enjoy all access around Mount Arrowsmith, the other side of Port Alberni,” said Alberni resident Glenn Purcell. “Being retired for about six years or so that’s what I had to look forward to in my retirement years, unfortunately it’s not turning out that way anymore.”

Mid-Island Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser organized the roundtable, to get concerned residents ways to solve the problem on paper, to then be presented to officials.

“Right now at this point it looks like everybody wants to play ball,” said Scott Fraser. “The companies are listening to the concerns of the public. They don’t like the situation as it stands, the public certainly don’t like the situation as it stands so I am hopeful that this process is the answer to finding those solutions.”

Everything from liability waivers to backcountry citizens on patrol groups are being put on the table, to solve a problem from the grassroots up and ensure the beauty of B.C.’s backcountry isn’t kept out of reach of its residents.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!