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Hornby Island ecosystem in danger due to proposed campsite, say residents

Hornby island residents say parks plan will destroy sensitive eco-habitat on Hornby island, and that the B.C. government has ignored pleas for community consultation.
Map shows new land being added to Tribune Bay park on Hornby Island

Tribune Bay on Hornby Island could become the next Fairy Creek if B.C. Parks pushes ahead with a plan to develop a campsite without ecological impact assessments and community consultation, says island resident Petra Chambers.

B.C. Parks is planning a development that will affect 23 acres of forested ecosystem and ecologically important wetlands in a forested area of Tribune Bay Provincial Park. But Chambers said the community has been shut out since plans were unveiled in January — plans that she said are significantly different than what was presented to the community in 2022.

“At least 100 community members have written to B.C. Parks with concerns since the new plan was revealed, and we were told the window for community consultation had closed,” said Chambers.

Chambers said B.C. Parks is withholding information and has not completed required hydrological and ecological impact assessments.

She and others in the community are not opposed to an expansion of camping for visitors, but what was presented to the community after B.C. Parks purchased the privately run Tribune Bay campsite in 2021 and an adjacent wetland is significantly different than what they are moving ahead with now.

“The original plan was to do a campsite expansion, targeting carless transportation, bikers, boaters, kayakers — super-low impact and ecologically friendly,” said Chambers. “B.C. Parks said all the right things. Then they released their plan and it was completely different.”

The new plan includes a 34-acre campsite along with a 60-stall parking lot on 23 acres carved out of the “legacy portion” of the park that is a habitat for diverse endangered species. Chambers said it would have to be nearly clearcut due to the shallow-rooted trees that could present a danger to workers and campers.

The new plan will develop the campground on land that is set aside for the Agricultural Land Reserve and in an area designated as environmentally sensitive by Hornby’s official community plan and is a protected area under the Gulf Islands Trust.

Chambers has filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests to glean more information about what impact assessments have been completed, but none have been answered.

“Their plan is to issue RFPs this month and have that work start right after the summer,” said Chambers. “The downside of this development is the destruction of a coastal Douglas fir ecosystem that is in the process of regenerating.”

Residents have documented nesting eagles, northern red-legged frogs, pileated woodpeckers and rare fauna in the area.

Chambers said the B.C. government is not following its own planning guidelines.

“We need B.C. Parks to hit pause on this project. We are not opposed to an expansion, but there are other locations that are much better suited for this kind of development.”

A petition to preserve the Tribune Bay ecosystem can be found here.

A B.C. Parks spokesperson said the new campsite was going ahead and that B.C. Parks had been consulting with First Nations and residents for three years.

They said work on Phase One (walk-in campsites) is expected to start in the fall.