New B.C. Adventure Tourism Coalition wants a coordinated approach to industry planning

Newly formed coalition is working with industry stakeholders, governments, and primary resource sectors to problem solve

Photo: Alain Sleigher/B.C. Adventure Tourism Coalition

In the Revelstoke area, conflicts between backcountry recreation users and other backcountry operators, such as the forest industry, spill over into the public sphere on a regular basis. Logging in recreation areas on Mount Macpherson on Boulder Mountain is a prominent example. Others include forest road access issues for ATVers and sledders and CAT-skiing operations.

In response to issues such as these, a newly formed B.C. Adventure Tourism Coalition is looking to create a coordinated approach to planning between the industry, governments and primary resource sectors.

In 2016, adventure tourism industry stakeholders got together and realized they were all going to the government for the same reasons.

“We realized we all had the same pressures and challenges operating as a sector and as individual businesses,” said Ian Tomm, chair of the B.C. Adventure Coalition.

The coalition includes a wide spectrum of adventure tourism operators, including heli-skiing operators, hunting groups, mountain guides, backcountry lodges, mountain biking associations and many more. It’s an unprecedented move for B.C., with a total of 18 motorized and non-motorized adventure tourism sectors coming together for a common goal. The group pooled funds and hired a Peter LaRose and Associates of Thompson Rivers University to explore various issues that need to be fixed, to survey the pressures facing industry stakeholders and to develop an action strategy.

“We have grizzly bear viewers at the table with trophy hunters. We’ve got mechanized groups with non-mechanized groups and we all have the same goal: this adventure tourism strategy,” said Tomm. “We find ourselves today with a whole bunch of pressures on adventure tourism. Those pressures are rooted in land use issues, land planning, as well as a fair bit of provincial regulation.”

View the B.C. Adventure Tourism Coalitions slideshow presentation to Revelstoke City Council here.

Adventure Tourism Coalition presentation to council by Revelstoke Mountaineer on Scribd

The coalition is currently working with the B.C. tourism ministry as well as the ministry of forests. Part of the initial work includes connecting with local communities with a large investment in the adventure tourism industry.

Tomm said the initiative with Thompson Rivers University showcased the need for collaboration within the adventure tourism sector and the need to level the playing field. He said each year some ski touring companies have part of their season shut down because forestry companies begin logging too early or too late. He is clear, however, that it isn’t an anti-forestry initiative. In fact, the forests ministry is one of the government bodies with which the coalition is currently working. The provincial government has also asked the coalition to begin garnering the support of municipal governments. Revelstoke was first on the list of communities the B.C. Adventure Tourism Coalition connected with. Tomm said the BCATC chose Revelstoke city council for the first of its municipal presentations due to the community’s large connection to the adventure tourism industry.

“Revelstoke is a focal point of adventure tourism in the province and can help lead the way,” Tomm said, during a presentation to city council in November, 2017.

Tomm said the strategy itself includes a number of action items with local level planning being just one of those. He pointed at that many adventure tourism businesses have head offices in Revelstoke.

City councillors were receptive of the work being done by the coalition, but did express some reservations about the extent to which Revelstoke local government should be involved.

“As a community we have support for adventure tourism. I’m apprehensive but I can see we should be at the table somewhat,” said Mayor Mark McKee. “It’s just a matter of how big.”

After discussion, council opted to have staff to explore options on what the city’s involvement with the coalition might look like.

This article first appeared in the December print edition of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.