FOSC issues Press Release

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 friendsofthechief@gmail.com.

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.

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Media Contact:

Anders Ourom
Email: friendsofthechief@gmail.com

Other FOSC committee members:

Theresa Negreiff (Squamish)
Derek Alexander Christ (Squamish)
Sean Easton (Squamish)
Rika Lyne (Squamish)

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Why isn’t BC Parks offering a public hearing?

BC Parks own Protected Area Boundary Adjustment Policy states public hearings are a guiding principal for protected area boundary changes so why are they not offering a public hearing for the proposed removal of land from Stawamus Chief Park for the Sea to Sky Gondola Corporation?

Even the developer’s website states:

“There will be many formal opportunities for the public to have meaningful input during the District of Squamish rezoning process for the base terminal site, the BC Parks Assessment for the required rights of way and the SLRD land use process for the top terminal.”

Speak up for our Park!

Write Premier Clark and Environment Minister Terry Lake and demand a hearing. Premier Christy Clark   premier@gov.bc.ca

Hon.Terry Lake  env.minister@gov.bc.ca

You can check out the Protected Area Boundary Adjustment Policy here and the current Management Plan for Stawamus Chief Park here.

Stawamus Chief, home of the Epic and a thousand stories…

The Stawamus Chief, Squamish BC

The Chief means many things to many people – there is a rich First Nations significance stretching back centuries and a thousand hiker tales to be told on the trails to its three peaks. If you’re a climber, well, it’ s place in the climbing landscape is legendary. Who hasn’t had an epic on the Chief with a rope that got snagged, gear that got dropped, or  that favourite classic “my headlamp died”?

I know I’m not alone in my affection for this graniIte monolith that anchors our town and stands guard over the Howe Sound. We want to know what the Chief means to you. What’s your story? Please send us your favourite Stawamus Chief tale and we will post it under our coming soon ” Your Stories” page. Or write us a note on facebook. And if you, like us, are worried about the new proposed gondola development that will split our Park in two, write a letter to one of our decision makers who in coming months might give the ok to change our Park forever.

Why we’re worried…

FOSC created this website in response to what we see as a new threat to our Park, the proposal from Sea to Sky Gondola Corp. to annex land from our Park for commercial use. Our goal is to provide a venue for dialogue and ensure concerns about impacts to our park as a result of this development are heard and addressed before/if the project moves forward. Our concerns:

a) Land should not be removed from Class A provincial parks, except in very limited circumstances. Provincial parks, particularly those in the Sea to Sky region, have enough challenges already. What’s the point of creating parks, if they’re not protected?

b) Land should not be removed from these parks for the development in question. It would be contrary to the values and master plans of the parks, and to the public interest, and they’re already heavily used and highly visible. An additional, high-impact development doesn’t fit.

c) If there is to be consideration of removing land from Class A parks, it should only be after thorough public review of the proposal by BC Parks, in context of the master plans for the parks, and their history and values. There should then be independent public meetings where balanced information about the proposal is presented and public opinion sought and currently no plans are in place for public input regarding the environmental assessment or the removal of park lands.

d)The Land Conservancy of B.C. bought the proposed gondola base property in 2004 to prevent it ever being used for a gondola, or any other high-impact development. They placed a binding conservation covenant against the legal title to the land before selling it recently. We understand that the covenant prohibits the construction of any kind of gondola from the property that goes through or ends in Stawamus Chief or Shannon Falls Provincial Parks. The eventual buyer, Sea to Sky Gondola Corp., wants to build a gondola that would end just outside the parks, and get government and public consent to their removing a 20 metre strip of land from the parks, so that the gondola isn’t “in” the parks.  Provincial government should enforce the spirit as well as the letter of the conservation covenant, given the importance of such covenants to the people of BC. Ignoring this original covenant is a dangerous precedent for protection of land through the use of covenants in BC.

There are subsidiary matters such as the exact gondola route, its visual, noise, and other impacts, its suggested benefits, the developer’s promises and holding it to them, and so on. We welcome you to weigh in. However we believe that a gondola shouldn’t be built through our park at all, and if considered, the process for doing so needs to be much more inclusive and impartial.