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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mining in parks : an analysis of the policy framework for B.C.'s provincial parks Wilson, Norma J.


The provincial parks of British Columbia have endured varying degress of resource exploitation since the creation of the first provincial park in B.C., Strathcona Park in 1911. B.C. Parks, the government agency which manages B.C.'s parks, administers the Park Act (R.S.B.C. 1979 C.309) and derives its dual goals for recreation and conservation from the Act. In addition to the Park Act, there are several levels of policy for B.C. Parks which guide decisions regarding resource use in parks, including "Striking the Balance - B.C. Parks Policy Statement," occasional policy statements in News Releases, and some conditions in resource use permits. This thesis examines the levels of policy which guide decisions regarding mining in parks in British Columbia and the consistency of the commitment to the goals of B.C. Parks through the policy levels. The approach to policy analysis taken is that a policy is both an output of the level above, and an input to the level below. Three criteria are derived from the definitions of policy in the literature. They are that policy should be clear and a guide to decision-making, that it should be forward-looking, and that it should be enforceable. The fourth criterion says that the goals of B.C. Parks stated in the Park Act should be traceable through the policy levels. Since 1973, there have been five policies regarding mining in B.C.'s parks which stand out as significantly altering the commitment of B.C. Parks to its goals. In two of these policies the recreation and conservation goals of B.C. Parks are apparent, while the goals are not apparent in three of the policies. Foreseeable decisions for mining in parks are examined, and the ability of the present policies to guide the decisions is tested. B.C. Parks retains little decision-making authority with respect to mining in parks. On a mineral claim in a recreation area, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources has jurisdiction. Off a mineral claim in a recreation area, B.C. Parks has limited authority over mining activities. The fundamental decisions which rests with B.C. Parks is whether or not the recreational values of the area are sufficiently impaired by mining to delete it from the park system. Surprises can occur when the results are different from what was expected, either because the cause is different, the behaviours are not what was anticipated, or an action produces the opposite result from what was intended (Holling 1986: p.294). Several surprises with regard to mining in Parks are imagined and the challenge to the goals of B.C. Parks through the policy levels is examined. A strong commitment to the goals at the upper levels of parks policy, and reflected through the levels is proposed to ensure that B.C.'s parks survive challenges from mining and from other sources.

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