Gondola Not a Done Deal, Says Friends of the Squamish Chief: Grassroots Group Revived to Challenge New Gondola Proposal
Friends of the Squamish Chief (FOSC) has been revived and is challenging a new proposal to build a gondola within Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. The proposal, by Sea to Sky Gondola Corp., would require the legislative removal of land from within the Class A Park to allow for the proposed development.
With the launch of its Facebook page and website, FOSC has outlined its concerns with the proposed gondola project and is encouraging concerned residents to get involved now. “Contrary to what some in the community are saying, this project is not a done deal,” says FOSC organizer Sean Easton, an ACMG Mountain Guide and local business owner. “The proponents have only met one of three required government hurdles for rezoning and permits. Anyone who cares about the future of our park still can and should have a say.”
Major concerns outlined by FOSC include the proposed removal of land from the heavily used, high profile Class A provincial park, and the lack of an independent, inclusive public process to review the proposal. The proposed amendments to the Park’s Master Plan would remove a corridor through the heart of Stawamus Chief Park, so that a 20 m wide swath can be clear cut for the gondola. Stawamus Chief and the adjacent Shannon Falls Park are both internationally known.
The last gondola proposal at “The Chief” was in 2004, and was resoundingly rejected, with leadership from FOSC and many others. A key piece of land was then bought by The Land Conservancy of B.C. to prevent other inappropriate development proposals there.
When The Land Conservancy sold its land at the base of the Chief in early 2012, it was subject to a promise by the buyer that “no infrastructure” would be built on the lands “that would provide for an aerial tramway”. A conservation covenant was placed on title to the land with that intent. The developer’s application to remove land from the Park would avoid the wording of the covenant by removing land from the Parks, but still contravene its intent.
“If you care about our iconic Stawamus Chief Park as we do, we invite you to take action and ask for a formal chance for public input before the BC Legislature considers the developer’s request to cut our park in half ,” says FOSC organizer Anders Ourom. “The Stawamus Chief is a Class A Provincial Park, and this gondola proposal in no way fits with the planned uses of the Park outlined in its Master Plan. Its aesthetic, natural and recreational values would be changed forever. All of us who love the Chief deserve a say in the Parks future”
Ourom, a veteran climber, former President of the Climbers’ Access Society and a member of the planning committee which saw the Park created in 1995 encourages anyone who is interested in the future of the area, the impact of the proposed gondola, and this process to attend the Squamish Lillooet Regional District Meeting on April 19th in Britannia Beach. For more information, visit the FOSC website at www.friendsofthesquamishchief.wordpress.com. You can contact FOSC directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Friends of the Squamish Chief
Originally formed in 2004, FOSC successfully fought a gondola proposal that would have ended on the second summit of The Chief. FOSC is a grassroots body working for the continued protection and wise stewardship of Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and area for today and for future generations. FOSC is based in Squamish, BC and welcomes people who support our goals. Visit friendsofthesquamishchief.wordpress.com for more information.
Other FOSC committee members:
Theresa Negreiff (Squamish)
Derek Alexander Christ (Squamish)
Sean Easton (Squamish)
Rika Lyne (Squamish)