I read with interest MP Bob Sopuck’s stated “goal” for the recent meeting in Onanole to “discuss” Parks Canada’s cuts to winter services. His idea was “to get people together to think about getting a group of volunteers together to groom ski trails” in Riding Mountain National Park.
What the rep for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette failed to reveal to the audience was how Parks Canada dealt unfairly with Field, B.C., a small village nestled in a valley between the national parks of Banff and Yoho. Field’s local economy, like that of many communities around Riding Mountain National Park, relies heavily on winter tourism. For years, a group of dedicated volunteers groomed the ski trails.
Everything was going along very well until about three and a half years ago, when Parks Canada unilaterally decided that they would groom the ski trails; the Field volunteers’ help was no longer wanted. Seeing no other alternative, the volunteer group sold the trail grooming equipment they had acquired over the years.
This spring, Field, B.C., residents were completely outraged when they were told that Parks Canada would no longer groom winter ski trails. There was no prior warning. The trail grooming equipment Field once had was sold off, and now the village is facing the imminent collapse of its local economy based on a decision that can be laid squarely at the doorstep of the Conservative government that has turned a deaf ear to Field’s legitimate concerns.
So a word of advice for any groups in the RMNP area contemplating a volunteer group to groom the ski trails: heed well what happened in Field, B.C. Remember that our present Conservative government and local Conservative MP appear to have what I call a Rhett Butler/Scarlett O’Hara attitude to the legitimate concerns of our area residents to the cutbacks in winter services at the park.
For those of you too young to know Rhett Butler’s (in)famous words to Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, they were: “Frankly my dear(s), I don’t give a damn.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 30, 2012