Splatsin band councillors George Dennis and Daniel Joe show their support for the Eagle Pass summit lookout, rebuilt by volunteers, as a welcome addition to the Secwepemc First Nation. The cabin, however, may be torn down if the provincial ministry decides the structure was renovated illegally. (File photo)

Shuswap politicans want Eagle Pass cabin left standing

Volunteers could face fine of up to $10,000 for rebuilding structure without official permits.

A hearing with the volunteers who upgraded the Eagle Pass Summit fire lookout is now being planned following a provincial investigation into the structure’s redevelopment.

Volunteers with the project have been told their actions could result in a fine of $10,000 and demolition of the structure.

“In the evidence binder, they’re pushing for a $10,000 fine and remediation of the cabin which they mention was a historical pile of rocks before, and they want it returned back to that state,” comments Rene St. Onge, one of the volunteers who helped build the cabin that now sits on the foundation of a former fire lookout.

In a statement from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the next step will be an “opportunity to be heard” hearing in May and, following that, a statutory decision-maker will consider all the evidence and determine whether the cabin should be removed or modified and the site remediated.

“At their discretion, the statutory decision-maker could also impose administrative penalties of up to $10,000,” says the ministry statement.

“The ministry is unable to provide further comment until this hearing process is complete.”

A stop-work order dated Sept. 5, 2017 was posted at the lookout as the ministry launched an investigation into the lookout’s restoration.

In a previous interview with the Observer, St. Onge said he attempted to acquire provincial approval to reconstruct the cabin, but was told by a manager with FrontCounter BC in Kamloops it wasn’t needed because the work would be done on an existing structure.

“What they need to do is say, ‘you know what, there was a miscommunication,’” said St. Onge. “‘There was permission for this cabin, it’s beautiful, thank you very much.’ That’s all you need to do.”

Related link: Fate of Eagle Pass lookout in hands of bureaucracy

The cabin sits an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet, atop a rugged, rocky mountain peak. The cabin is a 14- by 14-foot engineered refurbishment of the original Eagle Pass Summit fire lookout, originally constructed in 1922. Carried out over the past two years by volunteers and donations, the became a concern for the ministry when it was discovered the work was done without official permits.

Related Link: Splatsin embrace Eagle Pass lookout project

In response to the investigation, the Shuswap Trail Alliance (STA) issued a public statement that refers to the historic lookout as a key destination for trails in the area.

“To this end, the Shuswap Trail Alliance supports a working solution with the local group along with regional and provincial leadership to complete and manage the site. We certainly do not advocate dismantling the new Eagle Pass Lookout structure (if that is an option being considered), particularly given the significant donation of time and funds from the local community.

“While we acknowledge there was clearly confusion in the initial process for planning and approving recreational projects like this within the province, we have spoken with the proponents of the new structure and believe their intent was in keeping with the values of the area.”

Local politicians have also voiced support of the reconstruction project, including Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, Splatsin band councillors and Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz.

Having read the evidence report, Rysz said the ministry is attempting to address concerns regarding process and the setting of a precedent. He said he can see the ministry holding the volunteers accountable for not following process, suggesting a public fundraising effort could result to assist with paying the fine. But Rysz stressed he is vehemently opposed to the lookout being returned to rubble.

“To take and destroy that particular thing would be just awful; It would be so wrong, it would just be so wrong,” said Rysz. “Somehow we’ve got to find amnesty for that little unit built on top of that mountain.”

In October, Rysz and members of the Splatsin council travelled to the lookout to install bunkbeds.


@SalmonArm
lachlan@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Congestion on William R. Bennett Bridge

A car crash has caused delays for Northbound traffic

Kelowna Rotary Club donates to feed local school kids

The donation will help fund ‘backpack’ feeding program for school-age children

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne to perform at Stuart Park

The Blues musician will release his 10th album and will perform on New Years Eve

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

Canadian passports now available in Salmon Arm

The Service Canada office on Shuswap Street will provide weekday service in English.

‘A start:’ Alberta critical of Ottawa’s $1.6B package for ailing energy sector

A further $150 million is to be used for clean growth and infrastructure projects

New B.C. Lions coach DeVone Claybrooks adds eight to coaching staff

DeVone Claybrooks has filled out his staff for the 2019 season

Two-year-old attacked by cougar near Mission, B.C.

Boy not seriously injured in incident on Monday afternoon

Most Read