Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:48 am

The Sea to Sky Gondola proposal took some steps forward after a few months of very little news. Earlier this month the proponents won the unanimous backing of Squamish Council by approving the rezoning for the base area.

And it looks like they could get approval for rezoning the top terminal in the next month or two. The Squamish Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) will give the rezoning application first and second reading when it meets later this month, I believe they meet February 27th in Pemberton.

That just leaves obtaining a permit from BC parks and land tenure permit from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.

They're hoping to start construction by this fall.

What do people think? Any concerns?

From the Sea to Sky Gondola website:
Last Tuesday, February 7, Squamish Council unanimously approved our application for the Sea to Sky Gondola base area rezoning and the Official Community Plan amendments. Approval by Squamish Council is a key milestone in the process as it demonstrates the broad support from the community of Squamish.
Sea to Sky Gondola Corp. has now finalized the purchase of the land at the base terminal and is moving forward with the other processes.

We are anticipating first and second reading by the Squamish Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board for the re-zoning of the top terminal area later this month. A public hearing will also be held in March before the SLRD can approve the project. Along with the SLRD approval, the project also requires a permit by BC Parks and land tenure from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources. We are working through this process with the goal of having the approvals and permits in place by July and construction to commence early this fall.
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by psi4ce » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:58 am

I still think it sucks.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by thomasteve9 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:52 pm

At least it's not a pipeline!

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:23 am

There's been a flurry of news articles on the proposal this week. It seems that many people are surprised that the Sea to Sky Gondola Corp., has applied to take a one-kilometre-long, 20-metre-wide corridor out of the Chief park, in order to construct seven gondola towers. Apparently these towers would conflict with the Class A parkland designation. The application was made in December and the company's website did not mention an application for park land removal had been made.

The Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club of BC oppose the park land removal and warn this sets a dangerous precedent for removing parkland for commercial development. Personally, I thought the precedent was set long ago when Whistler-Blackcomb asked and got permission to build ski runs in Garabaldi Provincial Park. There is also heli-skiing in the park. But the question needs to be asked at point do you draw the line?

Another interesting element in these news stories, the company on it's website prominently mentions the Climbers' Access Society in it's defence.

"We have been collaborating extensively with the community of Squamish and specific stakeholders, such as the Climbers Access Society who were instrumental in the creation of the Park, to ensure that the project will bring a wide variety of benefits to locals and visitors alike."

I understand the CASBC gave it's support to the project and advised them from a climbers perspective but the optics don't look too good when the company is now applying to have land removed from the park. The FMBC is taking a much more cautious approach and says in the Georgia Straight article its position will remain at best "neutral".

The Straight article also quotes Anders Ourom who led the CASBC charge against the original proposal for a gondola up the Chief. Ourom says he's not completely opposed to it, but is worried the proposal could compromise park values.

We now know it's going to cost $29 to ride the gondola. The company says it is considering a cheaper locals pass.

Here are some news sources check them out and comment below.
Georgia Straight: Sea to Sky Gondola to split Stawamus Chief Provincial Park in Squamish
Georgia Straight: Removing land from Stawamus Chief Provincial Park “dangerous precedent”, environmentalist warns
The Province: Howe Sound gondola nears approval stage
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-c ... ndola.html
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:31 am

Sea to Sky Gondola ltd has added some new photos to their gallery including this one of a graphical map showing potential climbers and alpine access.

Looks like they see new route potential.

Image
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by Sang » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:28 pm

Does it say anywhere if this will be open during the winter/spring months? For ski touring access?

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by psi4ce » Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:41 am

squamish climber wrote:The Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club of BC oppose the park land removal and warn this sets a dangerous precedent
Modification of the park by installing a gondola is a travesty that must never be allowed happen.

$29 to ride the gondola is like paying for cheap prostitution.

Once this thing is installed it can't be uninstalled.

I feel betrayed by CASBC and the other groups in support of this venture.

Sorry, but I really do.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by gnarnaphobe » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:50 pm

For the record as of this past fall CABC was neutral on the proposal...
Imaging how much funner this could be with booze and explosives

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by Anders Ourom » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:16 pm

Time is growing short, but I remain sure that climbers, if they can unite themselves and work with others, can at least get this proposal moved to a more suitable location, outside the parks. The voice of climbers in this should be the Climbers' Access Society, as it is an established group which led things in 2004, and province-wide. It has resources, a track record, and influence. Time for the Access Society to use its resources, and provide needed leadership. No other climber or climbers' group speaks for all the climbers, not just in Squamish or B.C. but worldwide, with an interest in what happens.

Sure, the developers somehow got an option on the land, have quietly moved along the approvals process, and have some local support, and even support from a few climbers. And yes, the provincial government, especially when Social Credit/Liberal, has historically been quick to develop in parks, and take land out of parks. Plus they have an election coming up in the next year or so. None of which means the proposal is a fait accompli. It would have major impacts on an already heavily-used and highly visible park, and take land from that park.

There are simply too many unanswered questions about the proposal, and the risks significantly outweigh the apparent returns. It doesn't seem a sound plan. You can contact the Access Society at info@access-society.ca or directors@access-society.ca, and tell them what you think of the project. Don't put it off - your children and grandchildren will have to live with the consequences.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by Peter » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:42 pm

CASBC has made our position on this project pretty clear to our members. We have remained neutral, however we did lobby the developer to include the trails up to Habrich etc if the project were to be approved. CASBC's number one mandate is about access as it pertains to climbing and climbing only. The proposed solution to the Park issue is a new development and worth consideration and we are discussing it. However, I do not believe that we are the main force to speak on that matter regardless of what we did in 2004.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:03 pm

Anders,

It seems your position has changed slightly in the past little while from not being opposed under certain conditions (paraphrasing from the Georgia Straight article) to being strongly opposed. You are also encouraging others to voice their opposition. Can you explain why your opinion has changed?

Also, it appears this proposal has broad (though tough to say majority) local support, including long time Squamish climbers such as Kevin McLane. How much say should non-Squamish residents have if the local support includes a cross-section of the community?
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by Anders Ourom » Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:57 pm

The call from the Straight somewhat focused my thinking on this matter, as did recent discussions with a few friends. My apologies that I wasn't more pro-active. I took it that those who should have provided the needed vision and leadership would do so, and was busy with all the usual things, some climbing-related. And trusted, ultimately, that TLC had taken care of it. Well, perhaps better late than never. And, of course, it's much more than just a local, climbers', or climbers' access issue.

I don't know just how much support there actually is for what's proposed, in Squamish, amongst climbers in Squamish and elsewhere, and elsewhere. Not to mention amongst hikers and the conservation community, who have equal reason to be concerned, and are. After all, climbers don't own the Chief. The proposal really isn't a lot different than that in 2004 - and let's not forget that had things gone as planned, it would have been stillborn.

I've had considerable response about this - considering it was a lovely spring weekend. We'll see, over the next few days. But I have the impression, from what people have sent, and from talking with people, that many were like me - rather skeptical, if not vocalizing it. So perhaps there can still be a healthy discussion of the issues, and maybe those skeptical, or opposed, will now speak out. That alone would be worthwhile. Even the biggest boosters of the project would surely agree that it's not all positives, that things may not go quite as they say, and that it's better to have a real public debate now.

The Chief, and Shannon Falls, are provincial parks, and the Park Act says that parks are to be protected and managed for all the people of British Columbia. They're in fact national if not international in stature, in particular the Chief as a climbing destination, and with their visual appeal. Local opinion matters, but that's only one piece of the puzzle. All classic concerns of successful democracy - and all I'm really doing is encouraging people to participate in their democracy. (Bearing in mind that there's no telling what may have gone on or be going on in government, short of an FOI request. From the perspective of one or other government, or body of civil servants, it may already be a done deal.)

I've been climbing at Squamish for 40 years, and am as much a member of the Squamish climbing community as anyone - even I don't happen to live there at the moment. And have just as much right as any other citizen of B.C., or member of the Squamish and B.C. climbing communities, to state my views, and encourage others to do so. Climbers need to work together, and keep in mind the bigger picture. That's much of the point of groups like the Access Society. I don't claim to speak for anyone but myself, but my conscience would forever be troubled if I didn't speak out now.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:53 am

Thanks Anders for your response. Your point that climbers should keep the bigger picture in mind when it comes to environmental issues and protecting park land is a good one. I'm not sure I agree with you that this proposal is not much different from the 2004 proposal. I think climbers would again be leading the charge if that were the case and the gondola were to go up to the top of the Chief.

Let's keep the conversation going here.
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:02 am

Trevor Dunn, one of the principals of Sea to Sky Gondola Corp has responded in a Squamish Chief news article to some of the criticisms raised in news stories last week against the proposal.

As to the removal of park land setting a dangerous precedent he says:
 It's not unprecedented. It's happened at Whistler several times and you have to remember that Cypress Bowl and [Mount] Seymour [ski areas] are both within provincial parks, and Squamish shouldn't be left out of that.
Dunn also suggest that input from non-Squamish residents should not have the same weight/influence as the opinion of local residents 
It is a broader conversation, for sure, but other communities have done it, and to have the broader discussion take place while leaving the Squamish component out of the conversation doesn't seem fair," he said.
I found it interesting that Dunn again referenced consultation with the climbing community as an example that the company is listening to concerns and even said feedback from climbers made them change the alignment of the proposed gondola:
For example, climbers voiced the concern last summer that the gondola line would be visible from the Chief if a route with a more northerly orientation were used. In response, the proponents chose a route further to the south that would be less visible from the Chief if the project proceeds, he said

"That was good input and we've listened to that input and made that change," Dunn said
.

What do people think? 
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by Anders Ourom » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:56 am

How odd, that developers who are apparently from Whistler would say something like:
It is a broader conversation, for sure, but other communities have done it, and to have the broader discussion take place while leaving the Squamish component out of the conversation doesn't seem fair
Just how has the "Squamish component" been left out? Quite the contrary! The community has apparently been very extensively consulted, if not lulled into complacency, with regard to what is proposed. And, if the opinion of someone not from Squamish is of less value than that of someone from Squamish, wouldn't that apply to everyone? Even developers from Whistler? Although I utterly reject such an absurd notion - provincial parks are for all the people of the province. It's even in a statute. All citizens have an equal right to express their views on what happens to a high-profile park. Democracy, eh? Those in Squamish may be oriented toward economic development, as they perhaps ought to be. Others may have other, equally valuable, perspectives.

Given that the majority of the Squamish climbing (and hiking) community live in the area bounded by Whistler - Nanaimo - Bellingham - Chilliwack, I also reject the idea that their views on the future of the Parks are of any less value than those who actually happen to live there now. (Although the traditional territory of the Squamish Nation extended from West Vancouver to Sechelt to Whistler, at least.) There are no drawbridges between Squamish and Vancouver, and Squamish and Whistler - or vice versa.

I've been climbing at Squamish for 40 years, spent a great deal of time in that community, lived there for three years, have spoken and written extensively about climbing there, have relatives and many friends there, led the Access Society for 13 years with all its contributions to Squamish and climbing, helped organize and run climbers' festivals there, and have even taught climbing there. (Perhaps inadvertently, I may have significantly contributed to economic development at Squamish.)Is my opinion less worthy simply because I happen now to live in Vancouver, and may not be up on the latest local gossip?

Sorry, such nonsense has no traction. It might serve the developer's interests, in an attempt to divide and rule, but that's about it.

As far as removing land from parks goes, Ground Effects is comparing apples to oranges. The last time land was removed from Garibaldi Provincial Park was over 20 years ago. There was considerable opposition. The park boundaries were then put in legislation, making it more difficult to change them. A statute would be needed, instead of an order in council. (IIRC, the same applies to the Chief, and Shannon Falls.) Cypress Bowl was clearcut (high-graded) in the late 1960s, which became a big scandal. The provincial government was left with a big mess, and the best they could do in the early 1970s was to make it into a park, with skiing. It was privatized in the mid 1980s, and the new developer was rather territorial about what it perceived as its rights. ("Privatize at haste - repent at leisure.") Skiing on Seymour goes back to the 1940s at least, a very different era. I can understand that former Intrawest executives might think that parks are open to development, after what happened to Garibaldi Park in the 1980s. But that's history, and the Socred days are long gone.

As for promises to re-route the line, and such. Well, I'm opposed to the gondola full stop, however prettified they promise it will be, or it actually is. A development of this kind has no place in or beside the Parks. Sure, they'll make all sorts of promises as to what they'll do - although the reality often differs, based of course on "economic" or "operating" contingencies. And there'll only be a "little" development, and they'll only take out a "little" land - which reminds me of the one about being a "little bit" pregnant.

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