For Immediate Release: December 14, 2020
The Wild Connection – campaign launches to protect special Piq kiʔláwnaʔ wilderness
Zoom Press Conference:
“Piq kiʔláwnaʔ is a gift of a place (Sinixt word for white grizzly pronounced pik-ki-lau-na),” said Nicky Blackshaw, a campaign spokesperson, “and our gift to the community is to work to protect this incredible area.” Concerned citizens are launching The Wild Connection campaign in response to proposed industrial recreational developments in the New Denver-Kaslo corridor. The area is being targeted for commercial ski operations, including the Zincton All-Season Village proposal.
“Piq kiʔláwnaʔ, so named after the sacred and rare white variation of grizzlies who live there, represents an incredible diversity of ecosystems including mountain slope, alpine, wetland, valley and old growth forest,” notes K.L. Kivi who also worked on the Jumbo Wild! Campaign. They cite the crucial importance of this habitat as a connectivity corridor between adjacent Goat Range and Kokanee Glacier Provincial Parks. “There’s a magnificent place at stake here, both ecologically and socially,” says Kivi.
“The area provides essential terrain for the survival of large mammals like wolverine, mountain goat and grizzly, but also for the smaller creatures like the Western Toad, a species at risk. It’s also an area that’s extensively used by locals for a huge range of activities, from skiing to hunting, fishing to harvesting berries, plants and roots,” adds Blackshaw. Whitewater Canyon, a popular hiking and bear viewing destination, is included in tenure proposals.
The group is deeply concerned about the cultural impact of a resort community like Zincton which is three times the size (1750 users/day) of the nearest village, New Denver (population of 500). The proposal has already proven itself to be very controversial with much opposition. Blackshaw notes, “our community wants to get along and all our regional Official Community Plans and surveys confirm that locals want right-sized development, to attract full time residents, protect the land and water and not put all our eggs in the tourism basket.”
Research about BC ski towns shows small communities who place their hopes in large-scale resort developments face unexpected consequences. Blackshaw adds, “disappointments include rising property taxes and stressed services. The social disarray caused by seasonal residents and increased road and fire risks can seriously undermine the integrity of what we value. ”
Within the context of reconciliation, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and BC’s DRIPA legislation mandates governments, businesses and the settler public to come into right relationship with the First People of BC, in this case, the Sinixt. Marilyn James, of the Autonomous Sinixt, states “through our traditional governance system, Smum’iem, we continue to uphold our unceded rights and responsibilities in this tum xula7xw (homeland). The entirety of the Piq kiʔláwnaʔ area must be preserved with no further incursions by development.”
According to a recent IIASA study, land use change is the biggest threat to biodiversity. “Our planet’s biodiversity health is key to adapting to and surviving climate change,” states Kivi, “and industrial recreational developments, like those proposed for Piq kiʔláwnaʔ, represent massive disturbances to the area’s ecological integrity. Piq kiʔláwnaʔ already hosts two all-season resort tenures as well as logging, mining and a broad range of recreational use – these considerable cumulative impacts are under-researched.”
“Even with proposals such as Zincton’s promise of operating green – such real estate developments are ultimately about personal gain at the expense of community values.” notes Blackshaw.
The Wild Connection collaborative team is asking the provincial and regional governments for transparent and community-based planning processes and for developers to respect community vision and interests. “Ultimately,” say Blackshaw and Kivi on behalf of the entire Wild Connection committee, “we want to define our future for ourselves.” For more information, visit: www.thewildconnection.ca
Nicky Blackshaw (she) 250-505-8057
K.L. Kivi (they) 250-354-7939
For Immediate Release: December 14, 2020