Park protest legitimate
Tom Fletcher (B.C. Views, March 12) wrongly claims that the Wilderness Committee bused in crowds to “manufacture dissent” at a public meeting in Pitt Meadows regarding a hydroelectric proposal in the Upper Pitt River. To use one of his words, this is balderdash.
This controversial project would damage salmon habitat and delete land from Pinecone Burke Provincial Park so that the park would be sliced into two pieces. Our society served on the study team to establish Pinecone Burke in 1995, and public meetings held at that time in Coquitlam and Vancouver were filled to overflowing with people who supported park protection. We anticipated a similar level interest from Metro Vancouver residents this time around, and made repeated requests to the proponent and BC Parks for public meetings in Coquitlam and Vancouver. Our requests were ignored; meetings were booked only in Squamish, Pitt Meadows and Mission.
We were dismayed when we saw the small room (capacity of 140) booked for the meeting in Pitt Meadows. By the time presentations began at 6:30 p.m., the room was packed.
It’s true the Wilderness Committee chartered a bus to get people to the meeting, and helped to organize carpools; this was simply to provide means of efficient transportation for folks in Vancouver and New Westminster at rush hour. By the time they arrived, the meeting room was already beyond capacity. By 7 p.m., anyone who drove to the meeting could not find a place to park. Had our requests for additional meetings and a larger meeting room been met, this fiasco would not have happened.
The Pitt Meadows meeting has now been re-scheduled for March 25 at Pitt Meadows Secondary School, 19438 116B Ave. (4-9 p.m. with presentations beginning at 6:30 p.m.). While Metro Vancouver residents will still have to drive through rush hour traffic to attend, we understand the room is much larger and people are unlikely to be turned away this time. We hope Metro Vancouver residents will attend to speak up for continued protection of this Class A Park and wild salmon in the Upper Pitt River.
Victoria Otton, president
Burke Mountain Naturalists