District of Clearwater is going to contribute $3,000 towards a scoping study to look into getting Geopark status for Wells Gray Park and area.
As reported in last week’s Times, Thompson-Nicola Regional District earlier approved spending $5,000 towards the study.
Total cost of the project would be approximately $25,000. Town council voted to contribute its share during its Nov. 5 meeting.
Seeking Geopark status is included in plans to develop the economy of the McBride-to-Barriere corridor, chief administrative officer Leslie Groulx said.
Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association and Destination BC want to see the study, she said.
Councillor Jon Kreke noted that Geopark status would be more achievable and less costly than UNESCO World Heritage status, but still would raise awareness of Wells Gray Park.
Shelley Sim said she felt $25,000 was quite a lot of money to spend on a preliminary study.
Quite often such studies are just made up of cut-and-paste information from other studies and don’t end up going anywhere, she felt.
“I realize our portion would be small but it still grates me,” she said.
Mayor John Harwood said he sympathized with Sim’s point of view but it seems it is necessary to have preliminary studies in order to get large government grants.
As outlined in a letter from Jennifer Houiellebecq, speaking for TOTA, the study would consider:
• vision for the designated land area and potential;
• impacts on current and proposed economic activities and land tenures;
• access issues and impact on existing recreational activities;
• implications for the current BC Parks management plan for Wells Gray Park;
• anticipated benefits for the core Clearwater/Wells Gray Park area and the Valley as a whole;
• application process and steps to be taken in; and
• process to widen community awareness and support, and to gain higher level political commitment.
TOTA and Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training would set up a committee to oversee the study. Thompson-Nicola Regional District would look after the funds.