John Van Dongen
BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Minister Van Dongen,
I recently listened with concern to your CBC Radio interview (Jan 6th) in which you stated that you were considering criminal penalties for those skiers who crossed closed ski resort boundaries, and for skiers who entered the backcountry under certain conditions. As a lifelong backcountry skiing enthusiast and a working ski guide, I strongly urge you to resist a populist response to the recent avalanche deaths and not to embark on illconsidered regulation of the public’s right to freely access the mountains of this province. The backcountry in winter, like our rivers, the ocean, and our high peaks, is a wild and potentially hazardous place. Good judgement keeps you alive in the backcountry, no matter what the conditions, and the legitimate recreation of experienced skiers should not be criminalized. Efforts to educate inexperienced skiers should be adequately resourced. Closures are unenforceable, and will just promote cynicism about overly paternalistic goverment. Ski resort management and public officials cannot proclaim when the backcountry is safe or not without assuming inappropriate responsibility and liabilty for such decisions. I appreciate your concern, but this is a complicated issue that effects many more people than resort operators concerned about the public perception of their industry. Please don’t take away my right to access the backcountry.