Please don’t take away my right to access the backcountry.

Hon. John van Dongen

John Van Dongen

BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

Victoria BC

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.

 Stewart Spooner 

Rossland BC.


Filed under Backcountry

4 responses to “Please don’t take away my right to access the backcountry.

  1. Mike Davies

    …good letter Stewart! This idea hasn’t worked anywhere else in the world, so why would it work in BC?


  2. francois

    Yeah right. What are they gonna do? Post armed guards in the mountains.
    fuck em.

  3. Ryan

    Well said!
    Seriously, they think they can criminalize the backcountry? Next they will tell you that you can only drive to work because sidewalks are not safe placed beside roads.
    B.C. wouldn’t have been discovered if someone didn’t cross the back country and safety has only gotten better since. Now it’s up to you to live to die another day. Ski safe!

  4. Erin Handy (Trail Times)

    Agreed- good letter. I’m trying to do an article on this SG idea for the Trail Times. Working from home today and tomorrow (Fri/Sat), if you could call 27329?
    Thanks! Erin

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