Broken Group Proposed Permanent Winter Closure

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  • #18919
    Yekaterina Yushmanova

    Hello paddlers,

    I keep hearing disturbing news from a number of sources that there is a plan for the permanent full closure of the BGI (Broken Group Islands) from October 1 to April 30. I can not find any official info on the Parks Canada website and do not believe that any public consultation has taken place.
    Here is the newsletter excerpt from SKILS (outfitter from Ucluelet):
    User and camping fees for the BGI are currently only collected online from May 1 to September 30. For the past decades, guides as well as recreational kayakers and boaters were able to enjoy the Broken Group Islands all year round, although no fees were collected from October to April. In 2020, permanent closure of the Broken Group Islands outside of the fee-collecting period was made with absolutely no consultation and was not communicated. One local outfitter learned this after a random exchange with the Visitor Experience Manager of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

    Outfitters were then told that the BGI is closed during the off-season because there are no Parks Staff there during that time. Parks Canada has not demonstrated by documentation or statistics, evidence that justifies closing the BGI. We think kayaking outfitters and recreational kayakers should continue to have access to the BGI all year for the following reasons.

    During the fee collecting season in the BGI, Parks Canada do not have any permanent staff in the BGI and they do not stay overnight. Therefore, a lack of Park Canada staff in the winter is not a logical reason to close the park. There are friendly Beach Keepers on Keith island during the Summer but they are not properly trained to perform rescues or advanced first aid in remote areas, so their presence does not make it significantly ‘safer’. The nearby permanent Coast Guard station in Bamfield is well located and equipped to perform rescues if necessary. Nearby Ucluelet also has an auxiliary Coast Guard station.

    Furthermore, the application of this decision does not make sense due to the lack enforcement and the very porous border of the Broken Group Islands with a lot of visitors transiting in this area all year round by human powered or motor boats.

    1.      Allow access to the Broken Group Island all year round.
    2.      We would like to suggest to Parks Canada to allow users to pay user and camping fees all year round. This is easily achieved with the current online booking system.
    3.      Users are fine to pay fees, but if Parks Canada is concerned about liability during the off-season, then users could continue to have access to the BGI without paying fees from October 1 – April 30th. This has worked in the BGI for decades and currently works in other National Parks.
    4.      Parks Canada could create a partnership with the guides and outfitters so they become the eyes and ears of Parks Canada in the BGI to report any issues (i.e. infractions) or significant wildlife reports.

    We encourage recreational kayakers and guides to voice their concerns and communicate with Dave Tovell, Visitor Experience Manager at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve ( and Karen Haugen, Superintendent at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve(

    For me personally, the Broken Group is a fabulous location for an experienced paddler off season. It is a place to practice more advanced skills, train and enjoy solitude that is not available there is the summer. I find the behind-the-scenes decision-making very concerning and feel like this is another change that is geared toward out-of-province tourist use rather than a balance for local experienced users and visitors. Please do take time to research and write to the folks above. If this closure comes to fruition, we will need to take our game up a notch.




Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #19010
    Mike Gilbert

    Last Friday, January 15th, I participated in the meeting regarding Broken Island Group – open, closed or something in between.  It was well represented by various outfitters, Parks Canada staff, SKGABC, Paddle Canada (me), BC Marine Trails, First Nations, organizations and individuals.

    I will be doing a short presentation at the SKABC Executive Meeting on Thursday, January 21st to inform them of the discussions that took place and how it may influence or affect our members.  From there the information will filter down to the club members themselves I expect.

    Mike G.

    Quirine Schuyff

    Sorry; I intended to post this sooner.
    The “meeting” is currently under way until today at noon, and they are accepting suggestions via

    The code is: 96 57 56 9

    You can submit more than one suggestion.

    Nick Heath

    I think members of out club should be concerned about this. The precedent is significant if it were to spread to other park managers, such as BC Parks. We accept some off-season closures to prevent vandalism  etc. in easy-to- access sites, but I don’t think leaving these paddle-in sites open for use has caused any  appreciable maintenance needs or damage.

    I could accept seasonal closures for sufficient reason e.g. to allow hunting at Sidney I, allow nesting birds some peace and quiet in the Spring etc. Perhaps there is a valid rationale? I guess Parks Canada will be trying to come up with one by 15 Jan.

    In the meantime, Trans Canada Trail is trying hard to get sections of the ‘Great Trail’ prepared for winter use, by offering incentive grants – this is recognition of much higher usage this pandemic year.

    I’d like to see our club represented at this session with Parks Canada.

    BTW BC Parks permanently closed the paddle-in/walk-in campsite at Smuggler Cove in a somewhat sneaky fashion.

    Yekaterina Yushmanova

    There is an interesting discussion happening on West Coast Paddler for those who are interested

    Yekaterina Yushmanova

    Glad to hear that a meeting is happening, hopefully we will be able to hear some insights into what is going on.

    Allan Edwin

    If I am understanding this correctly, the Parks Canada plan for the 2021 season is to not allow overnight visits to the park, and to close the area entirely in the off-season?

    I don’t understand the math on those decisions at all.

    Mike Gilbert

    So everyone is aware, I am planning to attend the January 15th, 2021 meeting with Parks Canada on behalf of Paddle Canada.  Paddle Canada does lobbying on behalf of its instructor members and all registrants to our Courses, clinic and classes.

    The meeting with Parks Canada will include Paddle Canada, Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC, First Nations and several commercial guides, operators, outfitters and paddle businesses all of whom would be negatively affected should summer openings not include overnight multi-day expeditions and winter closures (Oct.1 – April 30th) come into effect.

    There have already been preliminary meetings and communication regarding our concerns with proposed changes to the future use of BGI.  We are hoping that the coming meeting(s) will provide insight, understanding, cooperation and decisions that are balanced and fair to all concerned parties regarding the year round use of BGI.

    Allan Edwin

    A meeting has been scheduled by Parks Canada for stakeholders next January 15. SKILS and BC Marine Trails will be attending.

    The timing is both good and bad. Good in that this is a fairly prompt response from Parks Canada. Bad in that many people will miss this important discussion because of the year end holidays.

    As Katya has mentioned above, now is the time to voice your concerns by emailing them to those managers at Parks Canada responsible for Pacific Rim National Park Reserve:

    Dave Tovell, Visitor Experience Manager at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

    Karen Haugen, Superintendent at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

    You can also share your concerns and ask questions about trails access on the BC Marine Trails forum: Trails Development (registration required)

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