Issue Lead Advocate - Paul Kubik
The problem in a nutshell. Government tinkering has granted Whistler Blackcomb 33 km2 of Garibaldi Park. Mountain Resorts Branch is the provincial agency that oversees resort development and approvals for the province. In 2017, the provincial agency approved further expansion of Whistler Blackcomb resort while ignoring provisions of the resort's master development agreement that would have maintained and restored the Singing Pass parking lot up Fitzsimmons Creek. Park goers now walk an additional 4 or 5 kilometers of an boring logging road before reaching the old parking lot. In an additional slap in the face to the hiking public, Whistler Blackcomb offers what it calls "privileged access" for $56 per person to use its lift system to access the park. That's Christy Clark of the recently defeated provincial Liberal government tilting the Scales of Justice towards "pay 2 play" with her right hand. In her left, Ms. Clark grasps political donations made by corporations and individuals to "party with the premier" as the Globe and Mail newspaper had termed it. Lobbyists registered with Elections BC with client Vail Resorts, the new owner of Whistler Blackcomb, made substantial donations in the neighbourhood of $250,000 over the years to the BC Liberal Party. That is coupled with further donations from Whistler Blackcomb to the Liberals.
What can you do?
Support the parking proposal of the B.C. Mountaineering Club.
Click image for larger version.
Why is a parking lot needed?
A number of factors show that action on the Singing Pass access issue is urgently needed.
- Huge increases in park visitation in Sea to Sky region. Inadequate parking and trail head infrastructure to accommodate that use.
- Lack of public parking and overnight parking in Whistler. Recent parking bylaws enacted by Resort Municipality of Whistler in July 2017 exacerbate the parking problem for park visitors.
- Imminent construction of four Spearhead huts means increased overnight parking capacity is required. First one at Russet Lake, Singing Pass is scheduled to open in 2019. Construction has begun. People need a secure place to park overnight.
- Existing access road is geologically unstable. Repairs are costly and ineffective.
- Mountain bike terrain park over public road causes safety concerns with hikers.
- Long approach on relatively boring logging road means many park users are unable to enjoy the natural beauty of Garibaldi Park.
- Upgrade the industrial road on the north side of Fitzsimmons Creek between the Whistler Sliding Centre and the Innergex independent power project (IPP) intake to allow for private vehicle use.
- Construction of 200 car parking lot at the IPP intake. This is 5 kilometers up Fitzsimmons Creek from Whistler village and adjacent to the park boundary.
- Build trail head facilities such as outhouses, lighting, information kiosk, garbage facility, free parking.
- New footbridge across Fitzsimmons Creek to connect with existing trail on the south side.
- Clearing the existing, overgrown road between the proposed footbridge and the existing Singing Pass trail.
Additional options to consider
- Widening and paving of the four to five kilometer access road which is currently gravel surface, one lane with pullouts.
- Winter snow removal to extend operating season from May through October to year round.
- As the existing IPP road uses the right of way of the Whistler Sliding Centre, due to operation concerns during sliding centre events, the building of a public bypass road around the sliding centre right of way.
- Paid parking (e.g. $5 or $10/day) to be used for maintenance of trail head services etc.
Benefits of the proposal
- Enormously improved hiking experience as more time is spent in Garibaldi Park. It would allow seniors, families with children and the less physically fit to enjoy the beauty of Garibaldi Park instead of trudging up a boring logging road.
- Secure day use and overnight parking for park visitors. Costs are potentially offset by a modest day use or overnight parking fee.
- Responsible management of waste and sanitation.
- Opportunity to provide backcountry education and guidelines for visitors by using information kiosks or park attendant.
- Improved public safety as the access road bypasses the unstable landslip on the south side of Fitzsimmons Creek. No conflict with ATV tours and the mountain bike terrain park.
- Mountain Resorts Branch has as its own land use operational policy that "Crown land values are managed for the benefit of the public." Despite that, MRB in the past has steadfastly opposed private vehicle access to the old parking lot at the park boundary.
- Whistler-Blackcomb, a subsidiary of Vail Resorts, has illegally gated the Fitzsimmons Creek road to prevent private vehicle access. They have reneged on the terms of the 1982 master development agreement with the province to maintain the road. They have failed to establish the statutory right-of-way along the Fitzsimmons Creek road as delineated in Schedule A of the 1982 MDA and in violation of the All Seasons Resort policy that stipulates that is the manner in which the statutory R.O.W. must be established. All subsequent agreements should be considered null and void because the terms of the 1982 MDA were never met.
- An agreement with the Whistler Sliding Centre to use their right of way.
- Alternatively, establish a bypass route around the Whistler Sliding Centre right of way.
- Agreement with Innergex to use their right of way. (Innergex in the past has indicated they are willing to allow public use, parking and footbridge construction.)
- Funding for our proposal. We feel that Whistler-Blackcomb should pay for the majority of the infrastructure. Massive grants of public land of over 33 square kilometers of Garibaldi Park have been given to Whistler-Blackcomb. The majority of their high elevation terrain is in former park land. It is our position that Whistler-Blackcomb should be enjoined by Mountain Resorts Branch to fund the infrastructure development. Without the funding, MRB should deny all future mountain phase development and Renaissance project (a $345 million project to ensure profitability in the face of climate change).