Presidents Update: In the Loop

From the Desk of the President

In the Loop
Well Covid has “cut the loop” for quite some time and I thought I should give you an update on some of the things that have been happening in the Elders Council world. There is a fair bit of catch up!

Our web site is fully functional again. 
If you are reading this, you will see we are back to having a fully functioning website. Bookmark our site, visit often and get updates on our good work! 

BC Parks Budget Lift
BC Parks received a budget lift of approximately $86 million over the next four years. Some of these funds will go to fund staffing, to strengthen the organization, some into capital, for more campsites and infrastructure.  Trails and Conservation were very much under-funded. Our hope is that any of the underfunded items can come as part of a mega Nature-based climate agreement with the Federal Government over the next year. We are lobbying for such a package. Canada announced a $96 million package to protect nature on top of previous announcements so there is money to be had.

It seems that some of the campground money has gone to providing high end fully services campsites. We think this should be largely the domain of the private sector and have been arguing for those funds to provide more lower cost sites to improve access. 

We are concerned about the lack of transparency with BC Parks on budget and other matters and the need, we feel, for more stakeholder engagement in a number of areas.  We are planning to meet with the BC Parks Executive on a a regular basis to discuss some of these matters and to better figure out how we can work together to improve BC’s Parks System, nature-based climate strategies and the like.  

Ecological Reserves
We have been trying to get government interest in celebrating the fifty-year anniversary of the Ecological Reserves System, in association with the Friends of Ecological Reserves. There appears to be very little receptivity to this partly because the name “reserve” is not seen as very appropriate and partly because there is some doubt as the future role of ecological reserves in the context of climate change, aboriginal reconciliation, and the like. The Friends continue to lobby for more support.

Guy Dauncey and the West Coast Climate Alliance
Guy is a powerful force and he is trying to unite all climate action groups into a powerful alliance. We have joined this organization as this is the time for more uniform messaging to government.  There are currently more than 200 or more groups/members of this organization. BC climate activist groups could be a powerful alliance if we were to focus and apply our collective energies to force political change.  Here is the link to West Coast Climate Action Network Launch

Select Committee on Finance and Government Services
Over the years, we have made submissions to this committee to plead the case for greater support for Parks and Protected areas. In recent years, this committee have supported our requests with little effect, until the recent Covid-19 pandemic. We applied to make a submission again this year, got rejected due to demand, and then with a weeks notice were given the opportunity to join a recreation “room” to make a five-minute Zoom presentation. The other members of the group gave presentations on recreation needs, particularly for trails, and I must say they gave excellent presentations.  Our September 3, 2021  presentation that I gave based on input from Tory Stephens (EC) – see link here – we emphasized nature-based solutions investment as we think this is the main option for encouraging increased funding for conservation and reconciliation type investments. 

Memorial Event for Ian Leman – August 30, 2021
Mel Turner (EC) organized this event with some support from his parkie buddies. On August 30, 2021, we gathered together at the heritage Centre on Mount Seymour with our Patron, The Honourable Janet Austin, OBC Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Ian’s family to recognizes Ian’s contributions to parks. Her Honour worked with Ian when he was managing housing and she proudly states that much of what she learnt about management came from Ian’s pithy words and guidance. It was a lovely event relishing Ian’s mentoring abilities. 

Ken Farquharson 1935 – 2021
Ken was the model advocate. He fought for the protection of many parks and protected areas with a zeal, passion iron and focused knowledge and intelligence that was unequalled.  To me he was a model advocate and he influenced many as a mentor.  He will be missed. He “saved” many protected areas. 

The Indian Arm learning experience with the LG, our Patron
Mels’ magical management skills were revealed for all to see during our 4 hour trip around the Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park [aka Indian Arm Park] on Jimmy Patterson magnificent yacht.

When Mel and I chatted with her honour some months ago we agreed that it would be great if we could show her Honour more of BC Parks from the inside.  So Mel organized a four-hour trip around Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park [aka Indian Arm Park] . It began with a welcome from the  the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and then they gave a presentation on the challenges and possibilities involved in co-management of a provincial park so close to an urban park. The BC Parks Regional Manager presented her perspective and the group had a chance to mingle and chat and learn more about park management during the four-hour trip. Glen Clark accompanied us and discussed his direct involvement in the creation of the co-management agreement with the Minister of Aboriginal Affair.  Also on our trip were four local MLA’s. It was a wonderful learning experience for all, and Mr Leman would have been proud of the fact that Council Secretary Mel created this magic event at no cost to the Elders Council! We had the chance to promote the concept of seeking Federal dollars to advance parks conservation and aboriginal reconciliation. A great day’s work and symbolic of what the Elders can achieve at our best.

Elise Roberts and our Outreach Program at our Heritage Centre. Elise has conducted 17 programs from our Heritage Centre on Mount Seymour and they have been very well attended and are very popular. Elise also ran one for children on climate change, which was very well received.

Bill Henwood is working on National Parks initiatives
Bill has been working on a number of national park initiatives, spurring the Federal Government into expanding marine and other protected areas in BC and liaising with the Regional Director in BC.  Chat to him directly if you would like more information on that face to our efforts.

Fall and Winter Plans for our Parks and Protected Areas Climate Change Group
After our very successful webinar series in the sparing on Parks and Climate Change under Tory’s Leadership we are now planning our program for the fall and spring. We have a list of possible projects and I will just summarize some of the possibilities.  We will need help to get them off the ground so any of you who want to get involved let Tory know.  We will only pursue those we can “staff”

  1. Elders Youth Debates Debates
    We are thinking that there is a need to deepen the discussion on Parks and Climate change.  We also think that the engagement of students in our Spring Climate Change Program was very effective and they enjoyed the chance to learn from all participants.  So we are exploring the idea of a youth based debate series that we might run or sponsor on Parks and Climate Change, maybe, in the Spring
  2. New K to 12 Climate Change Curriculum
    The very energetic youth group in the Kootenay is advancing and initiative to create a new curriculum for K to 12 student on climate change.  We will be chatting with them to discuss how we might become engaged on the nature based strategies involved in this initiative.
  3. Follow up to the Spring Dialogue Sessions
    The Elders Parks and Climate change group were planning to present a lapsed at the BC PARF Conference later this year but is has been postponed so we decided that we will write up a summary. Of the discussions that took place and add some action recommendations as part of our plans to influence actions on climate change.  Rod is playing a lead role on that.

There are a lot of people that seem disenchanted with the BC Governments plans to address climate change. As we engage with some of the folks who we know I the bureaucracy it seems that there are many things happening but government is not getting credit for what it is doing and there is a lack of coordination between the various actors. We are investigation the possibility of bring them together in a small focused session to discuss what is happening across government in respect to nature based climate action programs..  We have not yet figured out the format but we are working on it.,

The Council is discussing our membership strategy at our next meeting as we try to figure out how we can have the most impact with a small dedicated group.


If there are any initiatives that you would like to help with just contact me or anyone that has been reference on the email list. We will be launching a modest membership promotion in 2022 to increase our active membership in particular. We cannot handle a large membership but some of our initiatives could benefit from more active membership involvement.

Kind regards and stay well

Colin K Campbell
President, Elders Council for Parks BC