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Singing Pass Meeting Summaries and Minutes

A meeting was held at the Whistler Library on July 26, 2018 between the backcountry community, government, and business to discuss a better approach to Singing Pass.

The meeting can at best be described as a complete failure and reversal of progress that had been made and memorialized in the 2014 Garibaldi Park Management Plan Amendment. Page 8 of the document clearly states that BC Parks is to work with adjacent land managers to establish a new vehicle-accessible trailhead on the north side of Ftizsimmons Creek to provide summer access to the Singing Pass Trail.

Here we are in 2018 and the meeting began with Robert Van der Zalm of FLNRORD giving a presentation which basically proposes maintaining existing access from lot 4 and the old unstable road to the existing singing pass trailhead on the Whistler side of Fitzsimmons creek. To justify this position he produced unbelievably low costs to maintain this access and incredibly high costs of building the access from the Blackcomb side. Prior to the meeting there had been no consultation or discussion with the backcountry community regarding options to mitigate such costs. In fact there are many alternatives which could reduce the cost of such an access significantly and generate a first class access to Garibaldi Park from what is arguably a first class resort. Clearly this can have a demonstrably positive impact on both the resort and access to the backcountry as has been demonstrated in many similar scenarios around the world.

This was followed by a presentation that I gave on one possible proposal for a parking lot at Innergex with a path to the existing trailhead. This would save 5km of walking along ugly roads required for both the existing approach from lot 4 and a proposed approach from lot 8. You can find the presentation here. The Backcountry community is united around the concept of a parking lot at Innergex which is only 0.9km from the old parking lot which is no longer accessible by car due to severe slope instability on the Whistler side.

On top of the "difficulties" that Robert mentioned in his presentation, both the Sliding Centre and Whistler Blackcomb reps piled on with problems of security, liability, and operational issues. There is no evidence that any of these groups have attempted to work with backcountry users to alleviate their concerns or that BC Parks has worked with them in a constructive way to fulfill the requirements of the 2014 Amendment.

The other members of the backcountry community all expressed strong opinions about the situation and uniformaly expressed a strong desire to have better access to the park, particularly considering the massive contruction that's begun on the first of three Spearhead huts.

Athough Sandra was only retained for this particular event, where there was little meeting of the minds. It is felt that she could perform a useful function in an ongoing effort to find an agreeable solution to this problem. The key individuals that are currently hindering progress on this issue are Robert Van der Zalm, FLNRO; Roger Soane, Whistler Sliding Centre; and Arthur De Jong, WB Operations.We would like to work with them to mitigate their concerns. Innergex has been co-operative in both working with us and giving tours of the IPP at the proposed location of the new parking lot and bridge.

In the same way that Grouse Mountain has been enhanced by the free and publicly accessible Grouse Grind, Whistler Village can be enhanced by a more integrated access with Singing Pass, the Spearhead, and the Huts. It will not reduce lift traffic by people that wish to use that approach but will give people that do not wish to use lifts a better experience and/or the option of using them in one direction only. Many backcountry users would prefer not to be restricted by resort infrastructure for the timing or length of their trips.

 Attendee List

Name Association  Contact Info  Phone
Jennie Aikman Regional Director, BC Parks, North Vancouver This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604-924-2227
Eric Ayotte Innergex, Pemberton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Elyse Curley Community Liaison Officer, BC Parks, North Vancouver This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604-924-2249
Arthur De Jong Whistler Blackcomb - Operations  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Vicki Harberl Regional Planning, BC Parks, Brackendale This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604-898-3678
Barry Janyk FMCBC This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604-873-6096
Bryce Leigh ACC Whistler / FMCBC This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Chris Ludwig BCMC / Backcountry BC This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 778-951-4762
Bill Maurer Backcountry BC / BCMC This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604-789-2172
Sarah McCullough Whistler Blackcomb This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Tori Meeks Mountain Resorts Branch, FLNRORD, Kamloops This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 250-371-3943
Rupert Merer Spearhead Huts Committee / ACC Whistler This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Charlene Mortensen Mountain Resorts Branch, FLNRORD, Kamloops This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 250-371-3934
Martin Pardoe Manager, Parks Planning, RMOW This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604.935.8186
Natalia Pisarek Outdoor Recreation Council of BC  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604-873-5546
Roger Soane Whistler Sliding Centre This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604.967.1878
Robert Van der Zalm Rec Sites and Trails, FLNRORD, Powell River This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604-485-0708
Sandra Bicego Pacificablue Consulting, Facilitator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 604-317-3125

 

April 26, 2016

These are informal comments made to Garibaldi Park 2020 a week after the April 26th meeting. It is not a minutes because it only summarizes the recollections of two groups in favour of the option to park at the IPP site.

Attendance
Spearhead Huts: Manrico Scremin, Jayson Faulkner
FMCBC: Brian Wood, Michael Feller
ACC (Whistler): Rupert Mehrer, Bryce Leigh
WB: Doug Forseth
MRB: Tori Meeks and assistant
BC Parks: Katy Chambers, Chris Platz, Vikki Haberl
Sport Legacies: John Hammond
Innergex: Liz Scroggins

Meeting chair Tori Meeks presented the two proposals: Option 1 north side road, Option 2 south side road neither of which included private vehicle access.

April 21, 2016

Here is a link to the backgrounder document put together by Ms. Tori Meeks, Acting Senior Manager, Major Projects, Mountain Resorts Branch for the April 26th, 2016 meeting between the stakeholders and various agencies and land managers in the Fitzsimmons drainage.

SingingPassTrailBackgrounder20160421.pdf

July 22, 2015

Minutes from the site visit of Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. to Resort Municipality of Whistler. Objective: to meet at the Sliding Center and walk through the center to the cat track that may provide walking access up to Fitzsimmons Creek and the proposed bridge location. This will give the participants the opportunity to see the site and observe the pros and cons of this access option.

SingingPassSiteVisitMinutes2015Jul22.pdf

September 10, 2012

The meeting was convened to discuss issues and concerns related to improving access to the Singing Pass trail from the north side of Fitzsimmons Creek (Blackcomb side) from the upstream Innergex power generating facility. A roundtable discussion identifying each stakeholder’s concerns or issues was followed by identifying some potential options.

Minutes of the meeting: 2012-09-10 meeting-notes Fitzsimmons Creek Trail Bridge

Options

  • Parking in Lot 8 on Blackcomb- lead hikers to a new trail (~ 3.5 km) to the intake area where a footbridge would be located.
    -trail would need to be developed
    -foot bridge needed
    -signage
  • Shuttle access, run by a commercial enterprise, provide scheduled trips to intake for a fee. Shuttle would have radio communications and proper vehicle to adhere to road use agreements held by WB and WSC. Hikers would board the shuttle in the valley.
    -fee structure for shuttle
    -foot bridge needed
  • Develop better signage in the valley at the Fitzsimmons Bus Loop so hikers using the existing trail are better informed (short term)
  • Lobby for funds to upgrade the Cheakamus Lake Road- Get hikers to the alpine via new trail connector up Singing Creek (long term)
  • Parking at intake with public access through the WSC.