The Issues

The Chief was made a Class A provincial park in 1995, after years of work. Its neighbour, Shannon Falls, has long been a provincial park. In 2004, Friends of the Stawamus Chief, with support from many others, defeated a proposed tourist gondola to the top of the Chief.

Afterward, the land where the gondola would have been based was bought by The Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC), with funding from businesses and individuals. All agreed that the land, a gravel pit between the Chief and Shannon Falls, should be protected. The intent was either that it become part of the Parks, or used for a low-impact commercial development, but either way with a conservation covenant preventing it being used for a gondola, or any similar development.

The land was sold in February 2012 with a restrictive covenant in place. However, Sea to Sky Gondola Corp. has moved forward with a request to remove a 20 m wide strip to be removed from the middle of the Park, seemingly ensuring the gondola wouldn’t technically contravene the covenant.

Our concerns with this current proposal for a gondola through the Stawamus Chief Park:

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.

Please let us know what your concerns are if they are not named here. Write us at friendsofthechief@gmail.com

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