Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park Multi-Use Trails Under Threat

One of the best-loved parks on the island is becoming much less user friendly. Hikers, mountain bikers, birders, equestrians, and dog walkers have all happily used the trail network in Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park since it was first established in 2004. The heart of that network was a multi-use loop trail now partially decommissioned. In addition, a metal grid bridge has been removed and a new, narrow, pedestrian-only bridge with steps has been constructed over a creek by the bay. This eliminates access to equestrians and poses an obstacle for some walkers and bikers. Then there are the swales, a series of deep ditches, constructed on another portion of trail, which make safe passage difficult and probably impossible in the rainy season. These changes, all undertaken without consultation with those most likely to be affected, are a consequence of remediation work in the park.

No one disputes that the plan to restore wetlands and control watercourses is a worthy park management initiative. What is troubling is the lack of dialogue, or opportunity for community input regarding the impacts of that work. Little serious attempt seems to have been made by BC Parks to find ways to meet the concerns of park users.

In spite of hours and hours of on site research and recommendations for alternate trail routes by one user group, BC Parks management does not seem inclined to listen. This is disrespectful to a community that raised more than a million dollars to help purchase the Burgoyne Bay lands, enabling their rescue from the industrial logging operations of the Texada Land Company. Burgoyne, not surprisingly, occupies a special place in our hearts, symbolizing one of the finest accomplishments of community spirit.

Is it too much to ask, then, that BC Parks honour the principles and commitments of their own Management Plan, which details and promotes recreational activities through multi-use trails in the park.

Please show your support by signing the petition, or by writing to BC Parks management at Sarah.Joanisse@gov.bc.ca and our MLA, Adam Olsen, at adam.olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca

For more information:

Patricia Lockie (250) 537-1116
Salt Spring Trail Riders

Photo credit: Jen Joy Middleton

January 13, 2021 8:17 PM

  • Bryan Young says:

    One thing missing from this article is an accounting of the role of the Cowichan in the stewardship of these lands. Yes public consultation is an important principle to be followed but we must remember that there is a strong element of First Nations involvement in these lands and it is a factor in what is happening down there. Asking those questions first is important because we do not want to jeopardize the Acts of Reconciliation happening down there. Lest we forget.... this used to be a village before settler leaders and communities wiped this community out.

  • Colin Coe says:

    Burgoyne is perhaps the worst managed Parks in the BC Parks system. Despite ongoing complaints BC Parks and the private caretaker does not act. Paragliders and climbers use the bluffs frequently threatening a rare snd red listed species. BC Parks will not even put up a sign or take action against the commercial operators. The park is becoming THE dogwalk park - with dog filth often left and unleashed dogs threatening the birds at the estuary. Floating homes are abandoned and left to damage the estuary. Garbage and debris litter the foreshore. Commercial operators harvest the wild roses in the thousands and pick the salal for sale to florists. It is a degraded and shamefully ignored Park.

  • Colin Coe says:

    Regarding the swales or ditches referred to this is probably on Trail 20 which would lead to the CRD site. I have hiked this trail for 20 years usually in the winter and spring when it is quiet. I have never seen any significant erosion. In fact many of the swales were in places that never even saw running water. The old logging bridge was sound and stable. Yet BC Parks spent a significant amount of money (I estimate $100,000) on a project that was not necessary. As an aside they also eliminated the circle route option for this trail presumably to placate the CRD to avoid a 100 yard connector stretch that used the CRD road. Spending the money to create a trail off the CRD road would have been a much better use of the money. But the public never gets any input.

  • stormking says:

    Equestrian groups always amaze me with their demands. These are indeed multi-use...the last thing I want when I'm going for a trail run in Burgoyne is to come around a corner and have an encounter with a thousand pound animal that could be easily spooked for all I know. Those little bridges are for people - horses can ride in fields. These are not trails for horses .

  • DoloresBG says:

    I agree with Bryan re: First Nations consultation. In addition what seem to be arbitrary actions are what happens when you give land to the provincial or federal government (or the CRD to manage). If they consulted the local public on government owned parks, maintenance would grind to a halt. If you want local control of local land, be it parks, or not, then you have to take on the responsibility of administering it yourself (Municipal Park Land). That way provincial money slated for local parks could be determined by local government. A municipality could also consider restrict access to environmentally sensitive areas such as the bay or areas set aside for wildlife preservation. Historical buildings could also be restored and/or used for local events were they are simply crumbling currently. Wouldn’t it be great to host native events and the occasional concert in the valley?

  • DoloresBG says:

    Are there signs posted restricting horse back riding on the Burgoyne trails?

  • Dan Dickmeyer says:

    It would help if a map showing affected areas was posted. Clearly it is wrong to have not worked out something with CRD so the upper path was not able to be used for such a short distance. I can't comment more as it is not clear if Cowichan people were in contact .

  • Jana Philipp says:

    Thank you for bringing this up Bryan! I have been thinking the exact same thing.

  • Jana Philipp says:

    Hi Dan, I have found some more information about the wetland restoration including maps: https://saltspringexchange.com/2019/10/23/first-wetland-restored-at-xwaaqwum-village/

  • Jana Philipp says:

    Similar to a few others I am wondering about whether or not the Quw'utsun Stqeeye’ Learning Society folks were consulted with at all about the issues spoken about in the article? What doesn't seem to be mentioned in the article is that the land restoration projects in 'Burgoyne Bay' or 'Xwaaqw'um' are part of long overdue Quw'utsun cultural resurgence.
    As an uninvited white settler to Quw'utsun, W̱SÁNEĆ, Lyackson, Penelakut and Snuneymuxw peoples territories (Salt Spring) with a lot to learn, I see it as my responsibility to listen to and support Indigenous peoples. With so much talk about 'reconciliation' couldn't we use this as an opportunity to stand behind the Quw'utsun and work together to share land that was stolen from them in the first place?
    *I want to acknowledge that I have a lot to learn about these issues and welcome constructive dialogue that allows us all to share space.*
    For more info on Stqeeye’ Learning Society and wetland restoration:
    https://saltspringexchange.com/2019/10/23/first-wetland-restored-at-xwaaqwum-village/ https://www.xwaaqwum.com/about/#what-we-do

    Thank you,

  • dpaine says:

    I hiked the trail today with the new footbridge. My biggest concern is fire safety and think that replacing the vehicle-passable old bridge with merely a footbridge knocks out one route that a fire crew could use to connect the historic logging and farm roads in order to more successfully fight a fire. Because of climate change, our summers will get hotter and drier, and Burgoyne is definitely a vulnerable place. By the way, I support human use of the park and go there all the time. I think there is plenty of space for hikers, dog-walkers, horses, and bicycles on the trails that are appropriate for mixed use. David Stewart Paine

  • forest_dweller says:

    Bryan Young’s comments are valid, but we’re talking about maintaining access for low-impact recreational use of a park, not pipelines or resource extraction. Surely reconciliation is compatible with passing peacefully on a horse? Reconciliation works best when both sides work together.

  • forest_dweller says:

    Stormking, count your lucky stars that you were born in the present era. Can you imagine how disturbing the streets of a Victorian city would have been with all those thousand pound creatures and demanding equestrians?

  • Jayne Lloyd-Jones says:

    We acknowledge that the Cowichan people have an important role in stewarding the land at BB, and that a group is currently working on re-establishing areas of native habitat. We know from BC Parks that part of the remedial work was to "manage the cultural and environmental values" of Burgoyne Bay. We believe there is room for community consultation alongside this good work.

  • Colin Coe says:

    Mr Young, certainly it is appropriate and important that First Nations are involved given the history of these lands. It does appear, based on the many First Nations related events that Parks participates in, the wetland restoration which had extensive First Nations input and the extensive recent First Nations signage that has been recently installed that there is already significant First Nations engagement and participation. Whether this is considered adequate I don't know. But engagement with FN already far outweighs any other group. In fact I am not aware of any broader public consultation regarding the park management or any public discussion whatsoever regarding a management plan. There are real and valid concerns that are being completely ignored - unleashed dogs harassing the wildlife, climbers and paragliders harassing very rare raptors, homesteading on the ecological reserve, garbage and abandoned floating homes on the estuary. So yes by all means the First Nations community needs to be involved but so do other users and the flora and fauna protected.

  • Colin Coe says:

    Jana, thanks for this, this wetlands restoration and mini lake looks like a wonderful restoration. Just to clarify, in addition Parks have been busy with putting in drainage on the trail west of the CRD (maybe trail 20)and up the old logging road. It looks like a major waste of money to me as I have never seen any significant erosion but perhaps they had money left in their road budget!

  • Colin Coe says:

    Yes I agree Jayne. Parks does a pathetic job in terms of communicating about their engagement with FN and spends little or no time engaging the general public to address the needs of park users. After years of trying to get them to do anything to protect the park I have come to the conclusion that their only interest is in checking off the boxes for their next performance review.

  • Colin Coe says:

    I had forgotten about the wetlands restoration at the bottom of the southwest field. It is definitely a worthwhile habitat improvement - however I am still skeptical about the extensive work done on the trail west of the CRD property. Is holding an annual public meeting on the BC Parks plan for theSalt Spring parks (or these days a Zoom presentation) too much to ask,? Apparently it is.

  • Colin Coe says:

    Yes Dolores ,a good point. In fact I have suggested to BC Parks a number of times that they should relinquish Burgoyne and Maxwell Parks to either the Federal Gulf Islands National Park (they are at least responsible and responsive unlike BC Parks) or as you suggested to Salt Spring PARC administration. Certainly anyone other than BC Parks would be an improvement.

  • BB Farm says:

    Dear Patricia Lockie - Salt Spring Trail Riders,

    You just struck a nerve. The Community of Salt Spring Island including the Islands Trust and Adjacent Landowners have no idea what's been going on behind the scenes for the last 5 years at Xwaaqw'um - Burgoyne Bay Park. Why? BC Parks act in a very secretive, clandestine fashion with total disregard for due process afforded in the Burgoyne Bay Park Management Plan of 2015 in which they themselves commissioned and released in March of 2015 - https://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/burgoyne_bay/#Management

    BC Parks simply can't follow the protocol that they themselves created. Patricia, the fact that BC Parks didn't engage our Community with regards to the new footbridge (built too low in the opinion of some credible individuals) is simply the tip of the iceberg. BC Parks and their Director of West Coast Region manage the Park from their desks in Nanaimo, without ever setting foot on the land, by and large bringing in staff from off Island and using 3 Party Contractors. I question some may not have proper professional accreditation. Example - the 1st of many planned man made Wetlands on land within the ALR was designed by an individual with the title of - "Wetland Specialist". In order to conduct this type of design work professionally requires the credentials of at least a QEP - Qualified Environmental Professional. If you're a Member of the BC Wildlife Federation, we paid for 50% of those services through our Membership Fees.

    This man made Wetland is on some of the most fertile and arable farmland in the Gulf Islands. As an Adjacent Landowner I received a 2 day notice of the planned BC Parks - Open House in August of 2019 for their Wetland and intended damming of Lee Creek Proposals. This after 3 to 5 years in the planning stages. The Community of Salt Spring as well had a two day notice via the Driftwood. About 25 interested Islanders attended. Others simply didn't know it was happening from the lack of proper public notice.

    As soon as I received written notice from BC Parks of their intentions, I retained one of our well respected resident PEng Hydrologists who specializes in Salmon Enhancement and Wetlands. He wrote two reports and a compromised solution for Lee Creek at the request of the BC Government's Top Hydrologist, on my behalf. The Local Representative of the Cowichan Elders was pleased that BC Parks had afforded me a 126' set back on any development from my property line, with Adam Olsen present. I was pleased! That decision was overturned days later by the Former BC Parks Regional Director - West Coast Region. The 1st man made Wetland within the Park was placed on my property line with no setback. This in lieu of the fact there is 3100' of lineal land between our mutual property line and the Head of Burgoyne Bay. The Former Director - West Coast Region retired 3 months later leaving his legacy of no due process to his Deputy who carries on the tradition of no contact and due process within our Community.

    I lodged a Formal Complaint to the ALC (Agricultural Land Commission) in 2020 on developing land within the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) based on a Legal Opinion I commissioned from one of BC's Top Land Use Lawyers. BC Parks had to finally stop doing whatever they pleased and request approvals and fill permits for their unilateral development. In that approval from the ALC, a drawing was surrendered by BC Parks that depicts an area of development about 425' West of our mutual property line on Lee Creek. This is of great concern to me and my neighbour's because BC Parks doesn't employee the opinions of PEng Hydrologists or Geoscientists in their design and planning stages. The interesting part in all of this over the last 18 months is we have no less than 2 - QEP Biologists, 2 - PEng Hydrologists, a Geoscientist, the Salt Spring Island Salmon Enhancement Society and a host of committed volunteers young and old willing to donate their time, effort and in some cases money to create something truly unique and special in Xwaaqw'um - Burgoyne Bay Park. While respecting the wishes of the First Nation Elders from The Cowichan Band and all stakeholders who live near and far and use the Park for pleasure seeking and recreation, as well for all British Columbians and Canadians who want to see a nature setting at its finest.

    Patricia, I applaud your Petition but in my humble opinion you don't start at the bottom and work your way up. This in lieu of how the BC Parks Director - West Coast Region and his small Team conduct business with little regard for due process from their offices in Nanaimo. I've given you a small sampling of what I have experienced over the last 18 months in my dealings with BC Parks through the normal channels. It simply hasn't work in terms of time, effort and money spent in protecting my land from the potential of flooding by providing a reasonable setback from my property line.

    In my opinion your Petition needs to start from the top and work down. Don't waste valuable time dealing with the BC Parks Director - West Coast Region. You'll simply be fobbed off like the rest of the Salt Spring Island Community when it comes to Due Process and the Management of the Park. Consider taking the path the Salt Spring Community Protesters took in the early 2000's over clearcut logging in the Valley, which effectively created and protected this beautiful piece of nature for all to enjoy in perpetuity. The idea of Lady Godiva riding bareback in front of the BC Legislature has helped in the past in Downtown Vancouver to garner attention to a noble cause. It may be an option for the Trail Riders to foster your campaign and passion for nature in the Valley. On a more serious note, in my opinion it starts with - 1. Adam Olsen -adam.olsen.mla@leg.bc.ca our Green MLA in liaising with the Elders of The Cowichan Band. 2. The Honourable Minister of The Environment and Climate Change Strategy - George Heyman - george.heyman.mla@leg.bc.ca 3. BC Parks - Executive Director- Bob Austad - bob.austad@gov.bc.ca In my opinion going any further down the ladder will prove fruitless and extremely frustrating.

    Adam Olsen has been a very attentive listener to my concerns and helpful in pointing me in the right direction. There are a number of others who are the real unsung Heroes on Salt Spring to whom I would like to thank. Trustee Laura Patrick, the Chief Planner at the Islands Trust, as well as our Geoscientist at the Islands Trust title - Freshwater Specialist. Kathy Reimer - Biologist Extraordinaire and the long time formidable driving force of the Salt Spring Island Salmon Enhancement Society and Wetlands. David Gooding - PEng Hydrology, Salmon Enhancement and Wetlands. BCWF - Neil Fletcher - Wetlands Program Manager for listening to my concerns. BCWF paid 50% of the funding of the initial man made Wetland. To the best of my knowledge they have curtailed any further involvement in Xwaaqw'um - Burgoyne Bay Park for the time being.

    All the best with your Petitioning. 600 Petitioners in 4 days, now that's impressive.

    Best Regards, DG Courtney - Adjacent Landowner to Xwaaqw'um - Burgoyne Bay Park.

  • Colin Coe says:

    A good point regarding access for fire suppression. And on the multi use - I agree that there is room for many different types of users but some thoughtful management is required. For example dogs allowed in certain fields only, off leash if allowed only in a specific area, no dogs allowed in the estuary area... and so on. As the number of users continues to increase we just need to manage things a bit.

  • Colin Coe says:

    Yes I agree. And as I have noted, it would appear that there is already extensive engagement with FN - and almost none with the general public. Perhaps it is somewhere in BC Parks communications BUT we shouldn't have to speculate on what BC Parks is doing or not doing with FN. Or what the Park management plan is. BC Parks could communicate with the citizens of Salt Spring for a change.

  • Colin Coe says:

    Here's an idea - perhaps there should be a Friends of Burgoyne- Mt Maxwell Parks . BC Parks has told me that they communicate with the trail and nature club and the Conservancy but I haven't been able to confirm that yet. Nor is it appropriate that the communication is limited to only certain groups that will have a narrower scope of interest than the general public. So far the approach by BC Parks seems haphazard and inconsistent and communication nearly non existant. There is a Friends of Ruckle Park as an example. A broader Friends group could allow for an open discussion amongst many user groups as well as First Nations and hopefully motivate BC Parks carry out their responsibilities.

  • BB Farm says:

    The Blueprint is the Burgoyne Bay Park Management Plan - Dated March 2015. Please consider taking a moment to read.

    If BC Parks would follow their own protocols and guidance, there would be no need for Community of Salt Spring to Petition enmasse.

    It's not really about Friends. It's about Due Process from a Government Agency that the Rate Payers of British Columbia pay handsomely for.

  • forest_dweller says:

    Isn't it a tad polemical to accuse paragliders of harassing very rare raptors? Do you mean by sharing the skies? Paragliding is a glorious peak experience of life and such experiences are to be encouraged. Going for a walk in the forest can be characterized as harassing the mycelium, but at some point we need to make allowances for human-wildlife interaction. In fact, the more we humans engage in respectful interactions with wildlife, the more likely we are to protect it. This is why parks are some important: the give us a place to be outdoors in nature. Have we data relating to the impact of paragliding on raptors, or is this mere speculation?

  • BB Farm says:

    Dear Jayne & Patricia,

    Congratulations & Hat's Off! I would never have guessed this type of timely response from the Salt Spring Community and in particular those who enjoy and visit Burgoyne Bay Park on a regular basis. Your Call to Action has be amazingly successful, the support is truly there to hold BC Parks accountable and transparent to the Burgoyne Bay Park Management Plan of 2015. Now the arduous task, to have them listen to reason instead of using taxpayers money unilaterally without consultation with all stakeholders affected. After an 18 month plight with no end in sight with BC Parks Regional Director - West Coast - Andy MacDonald. I really don't see any change in conduct unless there's an intervention by The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change - The Honourable George Heyman.

    A sincere thank you for all your efforts and to those who participated in this empowering Petition.

    DG Courtney, Adjacent Landowner to Burgoyne Bay Park.

  • BB Farm says:

    Whose Parks?

    A Qualitative Exploration of the Governance of BC Parks
    by Bonnie McCutcheon

    A thesis presented to the University of Waterloo
    in fulfillment of the thesis requirement for the degree of
    Master of Arts in Recreation and Leisure Studies
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 2009
    © Bonnie McCutcheon 2009


  • Colin Coe says:

    Well firstly it is illegal for the paragliders to launch from and land in a provincial park. And it is also not allowed to operate a commercial enterprise within a provincial park without a permit. So the activity and enterprise is not allowed.
    The raptor in question is rare indeed. A red listed endangered species. The "sharing of the skies" as you put it in this case involves gliding back and forth with large colourful inflated parachutes immediately in front of the nesting and hunting area for these birds. The raptor in question only has 20 nesting sites on the entire coast. Is that sufficient data for you? Do you really think that a study is required to figure out that this type of activity will be disruptive and stressful for a wild creature? Give me a break. Unfortunately your selfish, arrogant, ignorant human centric attitude is all too prevalent these days.

    I agree that Parks are important, but showing some respect for anything other than human use is also important. The Parks mandate covers protection of the flora and fauna. Recreational use does not and should not over-ride the protection of the natural world. I am just asking Parks to enforce their existing rules.

    I am sure that Paragliding is indeed a glorious activity but they have many other sites they can use. And thousands of square miles of airspace to utilize. But you begrudge even the protection of a kilometer of bluffs to protect an endangered species.

  • Colin Coe says:

    Thank you for your detailed note. I agree that there has been precious little attempt to have a broader public engagement regarding Burgoyne. Engagement is haphazard and selective. One major public Salt Spring group that Parks told me that they actively engaged with refuted this and expressed that they were also discouraged by Parks lack of enforcement and lack of concern for the interests of wildlife. It seems from your note that they only focus on a few showcase projects - I suppose just enough to put a few lines in their performance review.

  • South End says:

    This comment is about the Mt Erskine Provincial Park Connector Fundraiser. The New Link for Fundraising as of this morning Feb 4, 2012 show's that Adam Olsen's piece on support is missing.

    What this Fundraiser demonstrates once again is how BC Parks operates within the Salt Spring Community in a highly secretive manner, without any Community involvement.

    February 3, 2021

    What Is With BC Parks and The Community of Salt Spring Island?

    Dear Adam Olsen - MLA Sannich North and The Islands,

    This comment is not meant to demean the amazing volunteer work that the Salt Spring Trail & Nature Club put forward on behalf of the Salt Spring Community. If it wasn’t for this Club’s dedication we wouldn’t have the trail network that we are currently blessed with. It echoes the comment in today’s Driftwood from The Nature Conservancy of Canada. A sincere thank you to The Club Members, I’ve personally donated to this effort.

    This comment is directed to Adam and BC Parks. It's about your comment effectively applauding BC Parks for their work on Salt Spring Island. Over 1400 Petitioners from across Salt Spring Island and the Province of BC have asked BC Parks to be held transparent and accountable to their Management Plan for Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park - Circa 2015. All Stakeholders who use the Park, live in or near the Park have been kept in the dark for the last 6 years while BC Parks goes secretly about their business. Our Community is simply frustrated and disappointed in the manner BC Parks conducts themselves on this Island we call home.

    With regards to the current Fundraiser for Mt Erskine Provincial Park and the connection to Manzanita Ridge Nature Reserve. One can assume this is a straightforward boundary adjustment which provides lopping off a 1 acre parcel from the 35.5 Acre parcel held by a local Land Holding Company. Is it fair to say you’ve never walked this Trail? What you’ll find is a narrow trail with sloping sides. It takes less than 5 minutes to transit across the ridge from Mt. Erskine Provincial Park to the Manzanita Nature Reserve. Yes, there is an area of flat rock suitable to have a picnic but that’s about it. The Hiker gazing Northward in the picture attached to your letter requesting donations is afforded that view by the fact that the 35.5 Acres was clear cut of any marketable timber, along with the other 3 adjacent lots to the West. Not exactly an Eco Friendly Land Owner supporting the vision and ideals of the Green Party.

    "BC Parks had the land professionally appraised, contracted with the landowner to buy it, and will cover most of the related survey and legal costs. Although the BC Parks Foundation is collecting donations and issuing tax receipts, the Salt Spring Island community is responsible for raising the funds to purchase the land. I hope you will consider contributing to this important fundraising project."

    The Parcel is currently 35.5 Acres and has an Assessed Value of $790,000 for 2021. BC Parks on behalf of the Salt Spring Community effectively acting as their Agent has negotiated a purchase price of $243,700 plus ancillary costs which brings the total purchase price to approximately $255,000. This tiny parcel has limited value because of its rugged terrain, next to a 370 MW Power Line and cannot be subdivided. On closer inspection the $255,000 price tag for this 5 min trail can in no way be justified other than it provides the convenience of an existing trail and provides a windfall gain to the local Land Holding Company.

    Are other options available? Certainly, find and prepare an alternate path nearby so the trespass situation is avoided. The terrain is steep but by adding 10 minutes to the trail walk, a flatter section is available. Have a local Estate Agency and Appraiser on Salt Spring Island deal with the Negotiations. Who are familiar with our Official Community Plan and Zoning to provide a more accurate assessment of value.

    A number of the Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park users would relish the idea of $255,000 to make improvements in consultation with BC Parks and the Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park Management Plan to enhance their Park experience.

    Respectfully, DG Courtney, Land Owner - Burgoyne Bay Valley.