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Anderson Puts Powell River in the Loop

By Laura Walz - Editor (Powell River Peak, April 05, 2001)

Federal environment minister David Anderson has included the Powell River area in a package of new money available for park acquisitions in the province.

Last weekend, federal and provincial officials announced a new deal regarding a proposed national park in the Gulf Islands and the purchase of Burns Bog in the Lower Mainland. The agreement is worth $105 million. Roughly, both the federal and provincial governments will contribute up to $28 million each for the Burns Bog acquisition, $10 million from Ottawa and $5 million from BC for the Gulf Islands national park, and $20 million to be spent by BC for new acquisitions outside the park.

In a phone interview with The Peak, Anderson said while most of the $20 million is earmarked for Saltspring Island, he doesn't want it all going there. He has made it clear that there are two areas in the province he wants considered in the $20 million the province has agreed to spend outside the national park boundaries.

"One is the eastern shore, that is, Powell River and adjacent areas, and the other is the Cowichan Valley," he said. "I have a soft spot in my heart for the Powell River shore. . ."

Anderson said he couldn't name any particular parcels because he would be "treading on the toes of the province," but he did say the last undeveloped tract of land on Savary Island was a possibility. "I'm not here to say that's the most important piece of acquisition and that has to happen. I'm simply here to say I fully expect Savary to be considered along with some other shore properties in the eastern Gulf, island or mainland."

In 1995 Ottawa and BC agreed to contribute $30 million each to the Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy Program with the goal of creating a new national park in the Gulf Islands. While Ottawa has contributed almost that amount, the province has put in only about $5 million. The province will transfer Crown land and provincial parks to contribute to its original commitment to the park, but Anderson pointed out that wasn't the intent of the original agreement.

Anderson also said he has spoken to Gordon Campbell, leader of the BC Liberals, about the deal. "I have a comfort level from conversations with Gordon Campbell and the provincial Liberals that they will proceed with the agreement if they take power. Gordon was very positive and of course again I'm not trying to tie his hands, but I am saying that I expect this deal to be honoured and we don't have the problem that we had with Glen Clark [former BC premier] not honouring Mr. [Mike] Harcourt's original Gulf Island park concept."

The Peak was unable to reach Premier Ujjal Dosanjh before the paper's deadline.