Editorial: Why aren't overnight stays allowed at those little cabins?
We’re talking about the little cabins, properly referred to as “day-use shelters,” in the Rossland Range Recreation Site, that we trek to after parking at Strawberry Pass. Cabins like the Lepsoe Basin Cabin, Sunspot, Eagle’s Nest, Chimo, Mosquito, Red Dog, Viewpoint, and Booty’s. People ski, snowshoe, hike or fat-bike to use them at all hours of the day and sometimes into the night. People have been known to arise before dawn and make their way to a cabin like Eagle’s Nest to watch the sunrise. Others pack a meal and go up to a cabin after work, and ski or snowshoe by moonlight and headlamp, and return to a cabin for a snack and warm-up as late as midnight, or thereabouts, before heading home.
Recently, we’ve heard that some people want to stay overnight at one cabin or another, and are surprised to hear that overnight stays aren’t allowed, and wonder why. There are several reasons.
Let’s start with the regulations that apply to these places. Government regulations prohibit the use of these shelters for overnight stays. If overnight stays are allowed, then the outhouses must be equipped with removable barrels that can be taken away and emptied regularly, at great expense. Helicopters would be required for some of the outhouses. These cabins have “pit” style outhouses instead, and when they fill up, they’ll have to be shoveled out by hand. Hint: overnight use tends to fill up outhouses faster than day-use. Wanna volunteer for that jobbie? Didn’t think so. Remember, the cabins were all built by volunteers, and are all maintained by volunteers.
If overnight stays were allowed, and just to be clear — they’re not allowed – there should be a booking system in addition to the more expensive outhouse set-up and maintenance, and paid staff to administer the booking system, to avoid having two or more groups arrive at the same cabin expecting to use it overnight. Or someone paid to set up an automated on-line booking system, and to maintain that.
Overnight stays result in more maintenance work and repair costs. As things are, volunteers do all the maintenance and cut all the firewood, and consider it fun. If the work became too onerous because of overnight use, would it still be fun? Or would we have to start paying someone to do the work, and charging people to use the Site? Let’s hope not — charging any fees for the use of the Rec Site or any of the cabins would bring a sudden change in legal liability under the Occupiers Liability Act. That could spoil the fun, big-time.
Use of the Rec Site and all the cabins is free for all members of the public who are fit enough to get to them, and for the less-fit, there will soon be a completed “Accessible Trail” for people who need to use a wheelchair or walker and would like to experience some time among trees.
One volunteer put it this way:
“Overnight use of the shelters is not merely defiance of some bureaucratic rule; it’s an abuse of the kindness of the community volunteers who built the shelters, keep them clean, provide firewood, and keep them within the government rules that allow them to be there.”
The Rossland Range Recreation Site is an experiment on the part of the Recreation Sites and Trails branch of the Ministry of Forests. It’s unique. No other Recreation Site in the Province has so many day-use shelters, and such easy access to all of them, with so many people enjoying the trails and cabins. Rosslanders managed, over a period of years, to convince government decision-makers to (a) create the Rossland Range Recreation Site, and (b) to allow volunteers to build this many shelters in it, so close together. It’s truly unprecedented. Let’s all help keep it going.
Easy access to the cabins – that deserves to be emphasized. There is no need for people to go to the bother of equipping themselves for an overnight stay at any of these cabins when even the most “remote” cabin is such a short trek away.
As a volunteer summed it up, “The Rec Site works because people appreciate the privilege of sharing what the community has created. They don’t want a few outlaws to ruin the experience for everyone by having government take the cabins away.”