Public land

Years ago when I was a child, provincial parks were for public recreation.

Colour me old fashioned.

Years ago when I was a child, provincial parks were for public recreation.

Camping fees were kept low so all could participate. All of this is long gone of course, camping has been subcontracted – user pay. Later,  the province gave up its rights to other public areas – including Silver Star. That’s right, it  will  cost you to ski on public land in the winter.

So far, only minimal grumbling on my part. After all, it does cost money to build lifts as well as to develop and maintain ski runs. Developers should be entitled to a fee for their use – both developed runs and ski lifts.

I do feel though, that the public, whether cross-country skiing or simply walking during the summer, should not be subject to access charges. After all, it is our land, when all is said and done. Simply charge for the lifts and value-added runs and no more.

Just before you reach Silver Star, and a bit beyond the sign that informs you that you are entering Silver Star Provincial Park, lies the entrance to Sovereign Lake. For a number of years, the local ski club has developed the land and created a network of trails.

Not being content to simply walk with nature, they have imported grooming machines to pack down the runs and create tracks in the snow.

This, to a large extent, to service the ski racing clubs and its attendant industry. Because this costs money, they have levied a fee on these tracks. Well and good. Where it becomes a bit more dodgy is in their charging fees for snowshoeing. Generally, most snowshoers, to my knowledge, used to enjoy the out of track experience and have little, if any use for modified trails or runs. Let them be. It is after all, public land.

Sovereign Lake now charges kids to sled on public land.

When I confronted one of the club members about this, she said that, “It all costs money,” even though I noticed the grooming machines had to travel over the sled runs to get to the main tracks anyway.

When I asked her of her impression of the parking meters, that used to be installed at Ellison, and Kalamalka Lake parks, and postulated on their return as a form of user-pay for a  financially desperate province, she was less than amused.

I’m now wondering if we shouldn’t bring those meters to Sovereign Lake. After all “it – roads and infrastructure – all costs money.”

Bill Dunsmore



Vernon Morning Star