The Regional District of Central Kootenay is requesting a public meeting regarding the proposed heli-ski land use application by Kootenay Heli-Ski Ltd in an area that borders Kokanee Park.

Regional District calls for public meeting on heli-ski application

Locally based Kootenay Heli-Ski Inc. applied for a crown land tenure bordering Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in March.

The Regional District of the Central Kootenay board will ask FrontCounterBC for a public meeting regarding a proposed heli-ski operation bordering Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park.

Rural Nelson director Ramona Faust brought the motion to the board last week and in an interview said whether the meeting is held by the province or proponent Kootenay Heli-Ski Inc., it should answer questions and concerns about the proposed daily operation.

Regional District of Central Kootenay regular board meeting on June 16. Tamara Hynd photo

Faust said some concerns are related to the likelihood of the flight path being over the North Shore, as well as concerns about wildlife populations.

“There are a lot of drop spots [more than 70 proposed] so the area around the park will no longer be an animal refuge during the winter,” she said.

“We have quite a lot of operations already vying for customers, and this is counter to our whole GHG reduction type of recreation. Non-motorized users will be adversely affected.”

She said many concerns brought to her  are not within her jurisdiction to answer. “We’re not scientists or land use planners,” she said.

“Our community plans do recommend that the province hold public meetings if there is a change in land use. Considering that this touches four electoral areas I think that it’s a significant concern.”

There are no guarantees  there will be a public meeting but Faust emphasized the regional district has significant interest in the well-being of Kokanee park and its current uses.

“We think it would be of value to have a public meeting,” she said.

In March Kootenay Heli-Ski Inc. applied for a commercial tenure to operate a daily heli-ski operation on crown land bordering Kokanee park beginning this coming ski season.

The company is owned by Wendell Maki of Kootenay Valley Helicopters, which operates out of the Nelson airport. FrontCounterBC in Cranbrook received public comments on the tenure application until May 2.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will likely make a decision by the end of July, as they are required to do so within 140 days of the application.

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