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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

 

Comments   

+1 # Paul Kubik 2018-07-31 20:33
BackcountryBC wrote last August 14 to Honorable George Heyman, the newly minted Minister of Environment about the access problems with the Singing Pass trail. Mr. Heyman requested BC Parks and FLNRORD move the project forward. This meeting was a result of that request. Mr. Vander Zalm of FLNRORD has completely failed in that respect.

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