The Proposal is sponsored by MP Gary Lunn, MLA Murray Coell, the Local Trustees of the Islands Trust, and the Regional Director. It is supported by an alliance of local and provincial organizations. Technical support was provided by members of the Land Conservancy of BC and the Salt Spring Conservancy.
Responses and questions can be directed to the Islands Trust via email, or to the Islands Trust office on Salt Spring Island, at 250 537 5984, fax 250 537 9116.
This proposal requests the Federal Government to establish a National Park on Salt Spring Island, in Burgoyne Bay and the Ruckle Park / Russell Island area.
The vision includes more than doubling PMHL holdings with the addition of 2900 acres (1175 ha.) on Salt Spring Island. The Burgoyne Bay component could be at the heart of up to 7000 acres (2800 ha.) of contiguous protected area, thus achieving the Parks Canada goal of protecting representative and viable ecosystems, within an area large enough to ensure their survival. The cost of the critical purchase area in Burgoyne Bay, at $10 12 million, compares favorably with previous purchases by PMHL. It could also be beneficially combined with existing public and NGO funds which now stand at $7.7 million.
Burgoyne Bay is the largest undeveloped bay remaining in the southern Gulf Islands. It contains significant conservation, recreation, wildlife, fish, and historic values. The land proposed for acquisition is now almost entirely in the hands of a single landowner, with the balance of its area (apart from 70 acres in other private hands), already in Provincial park or ecological reserve.
The proposal recommends the Federal Government make a critical purchase of 760 to 1,060 acres (308 to 429 ha.) around the south and east shore of Burgoyne Bay. Combined with a proposed purchase of the north shore by the Nature Trust of B.C., this would create a National Park of 1,700 to 2,000 acres (690 to 810 ha.). The adjoining neighbours to the north are Mount Maxwell Provincial Park and ecological reserve (660 acres/267 ha.). The effective protected area would thus be more than 2500 acres (1000 ha.). The protected Garry oak habitat would rise to more than 30% of the Garry oak remaining in the Gulf Islands, up from 0.1% in current PMHL holdings.
The proposal also envisions a much larger protected area, with the potential for further federal involvement. Burgoyne Bay is at the heart of the Southwest Salt Spring area, which has been the focus of conservation efforts by all levels of government and numerous NGOs for many years. The CRD is now considering purchase of 388 acres (157 ha.)in its area of interest , which would complete ownership of the "mountain to mountain area" enclosing Burgoyne Bay. This purchase would link existing CRD park to the proposed national park. The effective protected area would rise to 3350 acres (1355 ha.).
Further south, a network of existing park, Crown land, ecological reserves, and potential purchases by PMHL partners would bring the total contiguous protected area up to nearly 7,000 acres (2,833 ha.).
The proposed Sansum Narrows and Orca Pass Marine Conservation Areas, and an existing marine ecological reserve in Satellite Channel, would form a marine link between National Park in Burgoyne Bay, the Ruckle/Russell area, and National Park in the PMHL area to the east.
Ruckle Park (1,215 acres/492 ha.) lies to the east of Burgoyne Bay, and to the north of Russell Island, which is a PMHL acquisition. There is currently potential for linking Russell Island to Ruckle Park with large ecologically-intact properties held by a small number of landowners who have expressed interest in conservation options.
If a National Park is established on Salt Spring, Ruckle Park should come under its management. By shifting recreation use to Burgoyne Bay, the ecological values in Ruckle could be much better protected.
Given the network of interests and funding opportunities, the report recommends that areas of interest and management in the South Salt Spring area be optimized under the auspices of PMHL.
As the largest island in the PMHL area, Salt Spring has considerable infrastructure and transportation amenities not available on the smaller islands. Islanders would generally welcome a National Park if measures to address concerns about potential impacts are adopted as recommended in the McDade Report, and in this proposal.
1. That the Federal government revise its Area of Interest for the proposed National Park to include South Salt Spring Island.
2. That the areas of interest, priorities and funding sources of the Federal Government, the Province, the Capital Regional District, and NGOs be revised under the auspices of PMHL to optimize areas of interest and the ability to leverage funds.
3. That the Federal Government, as a matter of urgency, open negotiations with Texada Land Corporation regarding acquisition of up to 1,060 acres (429 ha.) on the south shore of Burgoyne Bay and at the head of the bay, with a view to establishing the national interest. The Federal Government should consider a joint negotiating strategy, in particular with the Nature Trust of B.C., The Land Conservancy of B.C., and the Capital Regional District.
4. Should a National Park be established on Salt Spring Island, Ruckle Park should come under its administration, subject to approval at public process.
5. That local concerns regarding the potential impacts of a National Park on Salt Spring be respected, and that appropriate management of these impacts be undertaken as recommended in the McDade report and this proposal.
1.0 THE OVERALL VISION
Salt Spring Island can make a critical contribution to the proposed National Park for the southern Gulf Islands. The southwest portion of Salt Spring has a mosaic of forests, wetlands, rocky outcrops, shorelines, islets, estuaries and Garry oak ecosystems that are still connected and large enough in size to remain viable. Burgoyne Bay lies at the heart of this area, and is the key to maintaining its ecological integrity and enhancing the National Parks ecosystem representation.
The South and West Salt Spring Conservation Partnership have been working with islanders and four levels of government (including Parks Canada) and various conservation organizations to create a contiguous, "mountain to mountain, sea to sea" green space (see Map 1). The strategy is to link together existing protected areas, Crown lands, private lands under stewardship agreements, and acquire additional lands. This partnership has been instrumental in assembling up to $10 million dollars of committed and potential funding.
The area is of national significance, and the provincial and federal governments need to join the community to achieve the vision for this area. This proposal highlights the opportunity to enhance the National Park, but also to rationalize the management of the regional, provincial and federal park system and more effectively maintain its ecological integrity.
2.0 NATIONAL PARK THE BURGOYNE BAY OPPORTUNITY
Burgoyne Bay is located in the southwest portion of Salt Spring Island, which is the largest remaining undeveloped area in the southern Gulf Islands. The Bay is overlooked by Mount Maxwell Provincial Park to the north, and Mount Bruce and Mount Sullivan to the south. Burgoyne Bay opens into Sansum Narrows adjacent to Maple Bay and Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island.
The "critical core area" proposed for acquisition for the Gulf Islands National Park is comprised of the lands surrounding the Bayabout 1,700 to 2,000 acres (688809 ha.), depending on the final boundaries of the park addition (see Map 2). The adjacent Mount Maxwell Park and Ecological Reserve would add another 660 acres (267 ha.) to the area effectively protected by National Park. These lands link the highest points in the southern Gulf Islands - Mount Maxwell (593 m.)to the north and Mount Bruce (799 m.)to the south. Section 3, below, describes the way in which Burgoyne Bay relates to the potential for a much larger preserved area.
Ruckle Provincial Park is located at the southeastern tip of Salt Spring, and near Russell Island, recently acquired by PMHL for inclusion in the proposed Gulf Islands National Park. If Burgoyne Bay is added to the National Park, Ruckle Park should also be included and managed in a way to reduce recreation pressure and more effectively maintain its ecological integrity (see Map 3).
2.1 Conservation Values
As noted in the McDade Report (Greg McDade, Report of the Special Advisor: Public Consultation on the Proposed National Park Reserve in the Southern Gulf Islands, June 15, 2000.) Burgoyne Bay has " .some extraordinary ecological values and would make a very valuable asset in the National Park." This area lies within the area identified by the South and West Salt Spring Conservation Partnership, a coalition of local, regional and provincial agencies with the objective of preserving the green space values in one of the few remaining undeveloped landscapes in the southern Gulf Islands.
The north shore of Burgoyne Bay, on the slopes of Mt. Maxwell, has the largest Garry oak meadow in Canada and large patches of old growth Douglas-fir forest. These sensitive ecosystems, some of the most threatened in Canada, are only partially protected by Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve and Park. There is also a small patch of old growth Douglas-fir on the road into Burgoyne Bay. There is a large expanse of second growth Douglas fir on the south shore / side of Burgoyne Bay and Valley.
Only 1% of the dry Coastal Douglas Fir habitat remains intact in B.C.. It is a top protection priority to maintain connectivity of these forests as a buffer to sensitive ecosystems and to maintain the diversity of forest species, such as songbird populations, bats, amphibians and reptiles which are all vulnerable to predation at edges. There are over thirteen rare and endangered species and ecosystems in this area. They range from invertebrates such as the Porpertius duskywing butterfly to Double-crested cormorants and Peregrine falcons. There are over one hundred vulnerable species currently listed for the Garry oak meadow ecosystem alone.
The proposed Gulf Islands National Park Reserve has as its primary focus "the long term protection of ecological integrity" of the "rich ecological and cultural heritage of the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia in as natural state as possible" (PMHL Information Bulletin, April 2000). The southern Gulf Islands fall within the Coastal Douglas-fir ecozone which comprises only 0.3% of the province of British Columbia. In their "Identification of Representative Natural Areas in the Georgia Strait of Georgia Lowlands Final Report" (p. 27, Sept. 1993), Parks Canada stated:
"Setting aside those Representative Natural Areas lands in the Strait of Georgia that are not presently part of a provincial park or ecological reserve, either by expanding existing protected areas or creating new provincial parks/and or federal ones, would make important contributions to maintaining the integrity of the regions ecosystems. In addition such action would:
- Help preserve the last remaining representative ecosystems in the region .
- Improve the in situ protection of the regions biodiversity, many species of which are nationally rare and threatened, such as the remaining stands of Garry oak woodlands; and
- Increase the total amount of land protected at the present time, thereby contributing to British Columbias goal of setting aside up to 12% of each of the provinces ecosections."
Recently, the Conservation Data Centre, a provincial government program, compiled an inventory of the sensitive ecosystems which comprise the coastal Douglas-fir ecozone. Two of these ecosystems, the Garry oak woodlands and the "older growth forest", have their most significant representation in the Gulf islands on the north shore of Burgoyne Bay on Salt Spring Island. Over 30% of the Garry oak and 7.5% of the "older growth forest" found throughout the entire Gulf Islands region is located on the north shore of Burgoyne Bay and the slopes of Mt. Maxwell. Currently, the proposed boundaries for the Gulf Islands National Park protect less than 1% of the Gulf Islands Garry oak ecosystem in a small area on the north shore of Prevost Island and 3.6% of the "older growth forest" ecosystem. The Conservation data centre noted in their "Sensitive Ecosystem" report for the region that:
"Because the condition of most woodland sites (especially those with Garry oak) was often poor, the few sites of good to excellent quality and condition are noteworthy. The Elkington property north of Duncan was a good example of the type of Garry oak meadow that was once common on southern Vancouver Island. Other examples were found at Mount Tzuhalem in the Cowichan sub-unit and Mount Maxwell on Salt Spring Island."
In the field verification of the sensitive ecosystem areas on Salt Spring Island, these Garry oak meadows were reported as being more extensive than as mapped in the original inventory from air photos, especially in parcels 3, 6, 8 and 13 (Helen Ried, Review and Field Verification of the SEI Polygons on the Lands Held by Texada Land Corp., Report to the B.C. Conservation Foundation, Feb. 2000.) . Coastal bluffs, not mapped in the original inventory, were also mapped on along the north shore of Burgoyne Bay during the field verification process (ibid.).
Burgoyne Bay is also the largest undeveloped bay and estuary in the Gulf Islands. Two salmon streams run into the Bay, which has about 2 km of sensitive tidal flat with extensive healthy eelgrass beds. The Bay is adjacent to the proposed Marine Conservation Area in Sansum Narrows.
2.2 Fish and Wildlife Values
Killer whales, harbour porpoise and seals have all been observed in Burgoyne Bay. Large flocks of Western grebes and Cormorants frequent the bay, along with diving ducks. There are a number of Bald eagle, Peregrine falcon and Great Blue Heron nests around the shoreline. There are also several small Coho salmon runs in the Bay.
2.3 Heritage Values
There is a long history of First Nations use and a number of archaeological sites. The natural richness of this marine bay is indicated by the past use by the Coastal Salish peoples documented by archaeological sites that include burial sites, middens, and fish weirs.
Burgoyne Bay and Valley was named after Commander Hugh Talbot Burgoyne. He came to B.C. aboard the British naval ship HMS Ganges in 1857 after the Crimean war, in which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. In 1873, the Burgoyne Bay School District was formed, and South Salt Springs first school built. The new one-room schoolhouse was built across from what is today the Burgoyne United Church. In 1901 a shallow mine was dug on the face of Mount Maxwell, to explore for copper. Company after company invested money in this mine, but gave up in 1905.
Logging has been carried out in the Burgoyne Valley since 1870. Around 1912 the Maxwell family used a large steam donkey to yard logs, and horses to drag them down to the sea. In the 1930s and 1940s, many properties in the Burgoyne Valley were acquired by a Seattle entrepreneur. These properties and other holdings in the area were bought by Texada Logging in 1960. In November 1999, these properties were purchased by Vancouver developers.
2.4 Recreation Values
The forested shores of Burgoyne are ideal for trails or guided tours. There are many recreational features from the spectacular colluvial boulder formations to the mountain peaks and shoreline walks. Some of B.C.s largest dogwood and arbutus trees, and viewpoints over the Garry oak meadows provide some stunning recreational opportunities. The Bay has both gravel and cobble beaches, is swimmable and provides excellent boating opportunities. Transient moorage is available at the federally-owned public dock, administered by a local Harbour Commission.
The former Camp Narnia area in the Burgoyne Valley is ideal for a walk-in campground. Back-country hiking / cycling opportunities are available in the nearby CRD regional parks, park additions and the proposed Regional Trail. Archaeological sites, heritage houses and existing agricultural activities would provide ideal interpretive opportunities, as in Ruckle Park.
2.5 On-Site Infrastructure
There are several potential sources of potable water and sites for sewage disposal available in the Burgoyne Valley. The existing log dump area could serve as a parking lot. There is an existing dock and float to accommodate boaters, and a possible shuttle ferry from Sidney, Victoria or the Cowichan area. There is a recently constructed office space and parking area that could serve as a park office and information centre. Burgoyne could also alleviate recreation pressure on infrastructure at Ruckle Park and surrounding islands which will likely occur with growth in population and the establishment of the National Park.
3.0 POSSIBILITY FOR LARGE PROTECTED AREA
The various organizations and park agencies that have been part of the South and West Salt Spring Conservation Partnership have been pursuing a vision of a large conservation area for the southwestern part of Salt Spring for many years. The vision includes a combination of existing protected areas, trails, dedicated Crown parcels and stewardship agreements with private landowners. The lands in the Burgoyne Bay and Valley comprise a key link in this vision.
3.1 Mountain to Mountain
The core area proposed for the National Park includes all of the shoreline parcels around Burgoyne Bay, as well as three parcels on the northern boundary of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve and Park. (i.e. lots 38, 1318, 2324, and 2841 on Map 3). Up to seven additional, non-shoreline parcels in Burgoyne Valley (lots 1922, 2527) could also be acquired. All of the land proposed for acquisition in this core area by PMHL (7601,060 acres/308429 ha.) and by the Nature Trust of B.C. (950 acres/384 ha.) is owned by Texada Land Corporation, a Vancouver development company. This "critical" core area of 1,700 2,000 acres (688809 ha.) excludes a 70 acre (28 ha.) parcel on the north shore of Burgoyne, currently held by a conservation owner, which could ultimately be incorporated into the Park.
There are a number of existing protected areas contiguous with the Burgoyne Bay / Valley area, totaling 1,244 acres (503 ha.), which together with the proposed National Park in Burgoyne would create a "mountain to mountain" green space, including:
- Mount Maxwell Provincial Park 500 acres (202 ha.).
- Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve 160 acres (65 ha.).
- North Salt Spring Water Works District 170 acres (69 ha.).
- CRD Mount Sullivan Park 462 acres (187 ha.).
An additional purchase of 388 acres (157 ha.) in the CRD area of interest would link
Mt. Sullivan Park to Burgoyne Bay, and bring the effective protected area around the bay to 3350 acres (1356 ha.), and complete the "mountain to mountain" area.
3.2 Sea to Sea
The potential to create an even larger, contiguous green space stretching from Burgoyne Bay to Satellite Channel also exists. There are a number of existing protected areas in South Salt Spring, but not contiguous with Burgoyne Bay, totaling 2,500 acres (1,011 ha.), including:
- Mill Farm Regional Park 160 acres (65 ha.).
- Provincial Ecological Reserves, approximately 600 acres (243 ha.).
- Transport Canada navigation site on summit of Mount Tuam, 38 acres (15 ha.).
In addition, the South Salt Spring area contains seven Provincial Crown parcels totaling 2075 acres (830 ha.). Of these 1,033 acres (413 ha.) are adjacent to existing park parcels. CRD Parks has expressed interest in incorporating three of these Crown parcels in the Mount Bruce and Hope Hill areas, and one parcel on Sansum Narrows in their wilderness park proposal for South Salt Spring.
B.C. Parks has placed a reserve on the Crown parcels fronting Sansum Narrows. The future of Crown lands on Salt Spring, and in the southern gulf, is the object of a public lands strategy being undertaken by the Province and the Islands Trust. Currently, the Salt Spring Official Community Plan designates all Crown land parcels on Salt Spring as Park Reserve.
CRD Parks area of interest for the establishment of a wilderness park on south Salt Spring comprises over 1,600 acres (650 ha.), including the south shore of Burgoyne Bay. CRD Parks priorities within this area of interest total 811 acres (324 ha.) on parcels connecting Mount Bruce with Hope Hill Crown parcels. Negotiations with Texada Land Corp. have been unsuccessful thus far.
In addition to proposals for acquisition of private lands and transfer of Crown lands, the Salt Spring Island Conservancy is actively promoting private land stewardship in order to protect green space values.
A National Park in Burgoyne Bay and Valley would knit together existing and proposed protected areas in South Salt Spring, and could comprise 45% of a possible continuous, protected green space of about 7,000 acres (2,833 ha.), from Mount Maxwell Park / Ecological Reserve and Burgoyne Bay in the north, to Satellite Channel in the south. A proposed marine conservation area in the Sansum Narrows would form a marine link between Burgoyne Bay, the other Gulf Islands in the National Park and the proposed Orca Pass Marine Conservation Area straddling the Canada US border. The southwest Salt Spring area is also part of the Sea-to-Sea Green Blue Belt proposal by Western Canada Wilderness Committee which stretches from Saanich Inlet to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Therefore, the potential for establishing a conservation area that incorporates a land and marine component extends well beyond Burgoyne Bay itself.
3.3 Ruckle Park / Russell Island Connection
Ruckle Provincial Park has become one of the most heavily used parks in the Gulf Islands. In the last few years, islanders have expressed concerns to provincial park managers regarding expansion of parking, camping and trail facilities, especially into ecologically sensitive areas. Ruckle Park is already at capacity and cannot take any more development or use. Islanders would support discussion among park agencies to develop a more effective management agency and structure for Ruckle Park. The existing farm and residential arrangement with the Ruckle family is highly valued, and the terms of the contract with them should be fulfilled under any new management plan. The McDade Report states "Salt Springers are less concerned with its national or provincial status than they are with how it is managed." To date no inventory of the park exists, the management plan is outdated and contains no information for ecological based planning. Islanders are likely to oppose a change to National Park status with accompanying increase in use with no change in the management. Again, the McDade report states "the majority view on Salt Spring Island at this time seems to be that a National Park would be welcomed if it brought with it a gain in terms of additional land acquisition."
B.C. Parks have had the area under their management doubled in the last 10 years with no accompanying expansion in their staff or resources. In fact, the opposite has occurred. This proposal recommends the designation of the best management agency for the job, and the use of Burgoyne Bay to divert recreational use, especially camping and hiking, away from the rocky bluff Garry oak areas and into less sensitive zones. It is Parks Canada policy not to encourage car camping, and this policy should be applied on Salt Spring. Also, the diversion of camping to Burgoyne Bay would greatly assist managers in protecting the ecological integrity of Ruckle Park.
It is also hoped that, with National Park involvement, ecological corridors connecting Ruckle and Russell Island could be developed through land acquisition or by use of tools such as covenants with private owners. Ruckle Park and Russell Island are both isolated protected areas that could greatly benefit from connecting ecological corridors and an integrated management approach. Examples of rare butterfly populations from the larger islands repopulating small islands and vice versa provide the rationale for creating these corridors. There are still opportunities for large landowners between the two parks who are interested in entering into negotiations to protect these large properties from subdivision through sale, donation or stewardship agreement. Again Parks Canadas involvement will facilitate this because of its management capacity and long term funding mechanisms.
4.0 POSSIBLE FUNDING PARTNERSHIPS
The costs of park land acquisition in the Burgoyne area could range from $10 million to $12 million, depending on the specific parcels purchased and negotiated prices. Not included in these costs are several parcels adjacent to Ruckle Park of high conservation value or the non Texada parcel in Burgoyne Bay.
However, the multiplier effect that exists with the land base also exists with the funding base, and there are significant leverage opportunities. The Nature Trust of B.C. has made a $3.8 million offer on 954 acres (386 ha.) on the north shore of Burgoyne Bay. The Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative (GBEI) has committed $120,000 for Garry oak protection. Habitat Conservation Trust Fund is considering a $300,000 proposal for protection of the two parcels containing the largest stands of Garry oak.
The Province has announced that it will be renewing the PMHL agreement, which will likely include designation of Crown parcels as park land and funding commitments, reportedly of $1 million per year for 10 years (Statement by Joan Sawicki, Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks, in the B.C. legislature, x, 2000). The Islands Trust, which is the local land use authority, and the Province are undertaking a Public Land Use strategy for Crown land in the southern gulf. This process will reach its public phase this fall.
North Salt Spring Waterworks District is negotiating for approximately 50 acres at approximately $438,000, on property contiguous with Burgoyne Bay area. It has expressed interest in another 275 acres that lie within the Maxwell Lake watershed, which is contiguous with, and partly overlaps the area on which the Nature Trust is negotiating.
Voters in the Capital Regional District recently authorized an additional tax levy over the next 10 years for park purchases in the entire Capital Regional District, including Salt Spring. Capital Regional District Parks has identified 4 parcels totaling 811 acres (324 ha.) valued at approximately $2.8 million, contiguous with the Burgoyne Valley, as its primary area of interest on Salt Spring at this time. The CRD area of interest also extends to the south shore of Burgoyne Bay, although this area is lower on their priority list. The CRD has also identified a possible extension of the Regional Trail on Salt Spring, as well as parcels to the north of Ruckle Park in its Regional Parks Master Plan. This raises the possibility of additional partnerships with Parks Canada if it took over management of Ruckle Park and extended the National Trail to Salt Spring.
The Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC) Salt Spring Appeal Fund stands at $675,000. TLC has pledged financial support for protecting the Garry oak, the CRD area of interest and the Maxwell Lake watershed. TLC is also exploring other protection options through private "conservation buyers", including farm trust and community forest groups, which could provide green space buffers for the park.
Finally, Islands Trust planning tools such as amenity zoning and transfer of development potential could also play a role in the acquisition and protection of some lands.
Park land acquisition by the Nature Trust of B.C. and CRD Parks, would significantly reduce purchase costs of lands in the Burgoyne Bay area for PMHL. For example, assuming Nature Trust purchased the north shore of Burgoyne Bay, PMHL costs for the rest of the waterfront properties around the Bay, about 760 acres (310 ha.), could be as low as $10 million. Therefore, PMHL could establish a National Park in Burgoyne Bay, covering about 1,700 acres, by acquiring less than 800 acres. A more ambitious vision would include 5 non-waterfront agricultural parcels in Burgoyne Valley. This area, totaling about 1,060 acres (430 ha.) would have a cost of about $12 million, but would create a National Park of almost 2,000 acres. The size of the National Park could be increased to up to 2,800 acres (1,135 ha.) if Mount Maxwell Park and Ecological Reserve were incorporated. The costs associated with any of these scenarios are not insignificant, but when funding partnerships are taken into account, the value for money compares very favorably to the $27 million PMHL has spent thus far on about 1,900 acres (770 ha.) elsewhere in the Gulf Islands.
In light of the active interest by a number of conservation agencies, groups and private buyers, there may be the possibility of negotiating a "package deal" under the auspices of one organization, such as The Land Conservancy of B.C. This would ensure the best value for the money, since it would otherwise take a number of years for the vendor to sell off all of the properties.
5.0 COMMUNITY CAPACITY / INFRASTRUCTURE
Salt Spring is the "big Island" of the southern Gulf with a population of 10,000. It has transportation, hospital, policing, banking, commercial services and a skilled labour pool not available on other islands. It is served by three ferries, with up to 28 sailings daily. Access via B.C. ferries is from Vancouver, Nanaimo/Duncan, Sidney/Victoria and Outer Gulf Islands (including private ferry shuttle in the summer). There is also a scheduled float plane service to Vancouver and other Islands. There is a small commercial centre in Fulford (4 km from Burgoyne) and larger centre in Ganges (6 km) with two large grocery stores, convenience stores, gas/propane stations, car rentals, restaurants and other retail goods and services.
Salt Spring has 150 bed and breakfast establishments, two hotels and several resorts. There is a vibrant artistic community on the island (Saturday Market, arts and crafts outlets and performing arts center). There are also several kayak and motor boat rental companies established on the island.
Salt Spring islanders would, within appropriate scale, likely be willing to provide camping and other facilities in Burgoyne Bay which would appear disproportionately large on the smaller islands. The Official Community Plan allows for camping facilities to be located on agricultural land.
6.0 COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR A NATIONAL PARK
As stated in the McDade Report, Salt Spring islanders are concerned that they will be impacted by visitors to the National Park whether or not Salt Spring is included in the park. Community support for a National Park on Salt Spring will be much stronger if additional protection of ecological values on Salt Spring is achieved and if measures are taken to assist the island in meeting the inevitable increase in tourism.
The federal government has expressed a strong interest in including Ruckle Park within the new National Park. Public consensus on inclusion of Ruckle Park in PMHL could be forthcoming if islanders are assured that better protection of ecological values could be achieved at both Ruckle Park and Burgoyne Bay, rather than just a transfer of jurisdiction. Shifting some recreation facilities and use from Ruckle to Burgoyne would result in better protection for ecological values in Ruckle Park.
Management plans should emphasize low impact uses such as walk-in camping. Facilities that encourage RVs, tour buses and automobiles should be avoided. Note that the Salt Spring Official Community Plan does not support RV camping. Sensitive areas such as Garry oak and the Burgoyne estuary should be protected from over-use by means of designated trails, boardwalks and fencing. Incorporating agricultural uses compatible with ecological values into the park management plan (as in Ruckle Park) would alleviate any concerns regarding alienation of productive farm lands.
Parks Canada should also provide or enter into funding partnerships on infrastructure such as shuttle ferries and buses, and bike lanes to minimize potential impacts associated with greater automobile traffic to Salt Spring. For example, water taxis from Sidney, Victoria, the Cowichan area and National Parks on other islands would help reduce auto traffic to Salt Spring. Shuttle buses could link parks to ferry terminals and could be integrated with a local system. The possibility of a joint national / regional trail could also be considered with CRD Parks.
A community advisory group should be established for development and implementation of a management plan that emphasizes protection of ecological values. Current management agreements (e.g. with the Trail and Nature Club in Ruckle Park) should be honoured. If park fees are to be levied, a seasons pass system for residents could be considered to ensure that access for local recreationists is not unduly restricted.
7.0 A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
With the exception of an ecological reserve and about 70 acres owned by a third party, Burgoyne Bay currently has a single landowner whose stated intention is to sell off these properties. There is considerable commitment to Burgoyne Bay and South Salt Spring from various government and NGO conservation agencies. The combination of a single landowner and potential funding partnerships with a number of conservation agencies, including Nature Trust of B.C. and The Land Conservancy of B.C.s Salt Spring Appeal Fund, represents a unique opportunity to establish the largest conservation area in the Gulf Islands before the land is sold off piecemeal. This could likely be achieved at a lower cost on a per hectare basis, than PMHL costs to date elsewhere in the Gulf Islands.