A Cranbrook placer gold miner is upset that government red tape is preventing a tourism business at his mineral claim up the Wildhorse Creek drainage.
Stephen Lathem with the Nip & Tuck Gold mine, says that new permitting regulations have all but shut down summer tours of his small gold mining operation.
Lathem has been running the tours of the site since 2009 after acquiring a permit from BC Tourism to do so. However, in 2013, new regulations came into effect that had stricter definitions of adventure tourism, prohibiting tours of his mine site.
According to Lathem, part of the problem is cross-ministry regulations; tours of mine sites are permitted under legislation by the Ministry of Mines, however, the new tourism permitting regulations, which fall under adventure tourism, are administered by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.
He’s been ordered to cease and desist tours of the operation and is concerned he won’t be able to navigate through all the government bureaucracy for the summer tourism season.
Tours of his goldmine consist of a walkthrough of the camp away from where any heavy equipment may be operating and people are give the chance to hand-dig or hand-pan for gold.
Lathem has been gold panning since 194, but acquired claims in 2004 in the Wildhorse drainage. Years of practice gave him the edge to compete in the World Gold Panning Championship that took him to Spain and Italy, where he captured 12th place and finished as the top Canadian in 2009.
Access to hand pan for gold in the area is another issue; Lathem says Fisherville, the old gold-mining boom town east of Fort Steele, technically prohibits any public access for gold panning under heritage conservation regulations unless a special permit is issued.
However, the area is littered with signage that says hand-panning is allowed, Lathem added.