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Friday, April 01, 2005

Land Tenure In BC.

Many offshore visitors to Chatter Creek are intrigued with the concept of tenure. Some people confuse "tenure" with "terrain". This is a layman's attempt to explain the concept.

In British Columbia, the Provincial Government owns most of the backcountry. We call it "Crown Land". To encourage economic development, the Government will confer the right to carefully selected companies to operate certain kinds of business on specified tracts of Crown Land. "Tenure" is the legal right to use Crown Land for a specified commercial purpose. Different kinds of businesses are dealt with quite differently (ie.: logging vs recreation)

In the mid 1990's, Chatter Creek started an arduous application process for the right to operate a commercial snowcat skiing business on Crown Land and, after a lengthy evaluation and public hearings, was conferred a "recreational tenure" on 50 sq. miles, just east of Kinbasket Lake. This gives the company the exclusive right to the land for a recreation business, but confers no ownership rights and in no way bars the public from access to and recreational use of the land.

In exchange for this right, the company pays the Government an annual fee plus an head tax on its clients. It is believed that the Government could confer a subsequent tenure to a different company for a different purpose, but that would be on a non-interference basis vis-a-vis the original tenure holder. (Ie.: for summer ATV tours or summer hiking). It is also believed that the Government could withdraw tenure in favour of an operator proposing a "better" recreational use for the land. Hence, a proposal to build a large ski resort on the land might win favour over a relatively small snowcat skiing operator.

For a look at the Chatter Creek cat skiing terrain, click here.