Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

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Anders Ourom
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by Anders Ourom » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:14 pm

For clarity, and because the forum doesn't allow posts to be edited, at some point the company behind the proposal became Sea to Sky Gondola Corp. It seems likely that the new company is a spin-off of Ground Effects, as the individuals involved seem to be the same. Earlier references to Ground Effects Developments Inc. should be taken to read Sea to Sky Gondola Corp., if it is material.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by AaronRN » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:08 pm

If one was to oppose this venture, they'd be mistaken in thinking that because this gondola goes though a BC Park that it is somehow in violation a sacred trust. I worked in BC Parks from 1994 to 2007 first as a Naturalist and then for my last 8 years as a Park Ranger. I am amazed at what people think BC Parks are for and that they fall under some ultimate ideal of what conservation. The history of private ventures in BC Parks is as old as BC Parks them selves. In addition, there are countless examples of park boundaries being altered, land being removed, and even Parks being removed from the system all together. Lodges, ski resorts, logging interests, hell even MINING! Not before the land was designated a park but after. In the grand scale of development this is small potatoes and would be grossly hypocritical of the BC Government to oppose. (lets not forget that the top and bottom stations and their coinciding infrastructure are outside the park) Have we all forgotten that back in 2006 The ministry was issuing requests for proposals for development in ALL the provinces regions? This was not developers going to Parks, this was Parks going to the developers. So forgive the developer for shrugging off the criticism on this one issue. IMO if the province and developer had their collective ducks in a row sooner they would have made the acquisition of the Malamute coincide with the reclassification of this right of way, historically this is how these sort of things have gotten done. Make it look like a compromise and everyone's happy.
In closing, I personally don't oppose this development but for anyone who does I caution you to first know your facts before advocating for change. Personally I think jumping on the "Save BC Parks" wagon wouldn't be the best use of your energy for the reasons mentioned.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by jefffski » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:50 pm

Anders has suggested an excellent alternative--from Britannia Beach to a better viewpoint. This would give all what they want:
  • The developers make money.
    Tourists get amazing views.
    Britannia Beach welcomes more tourists.
    Climbers and hikers can continue to climb unfettered by views of a gondola.
It's a win-win-win-win solution.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:05 am

Aaron - thanks for that post, you have an interesting -- though kind of depressing -- perspective of BC Parks having worked inside the system for 13 years.
I am amazed at what people think BC Parks are for and that they fall under some ultimate ideal of what conservation [is].
Can you expand on that? My understanding is that Parks are first and foremost created to protect natural and wild places and the plants and animals that live in the park.

The mission statement from BC Parks lays that out quite clearly:
Mission Statement
As a public trust, BC Parks' mission is to protect representative and special natural places within the province's Protected Areas System for world-class conservation, outdoor recreation, education and scientific study
Sometimes it takes the public to remind them of that mandate.There must be some examples where public opposition has prevented commercial development inside provincial parks. I can't think of one off hand at the moment -- Anders? jump in here.

The question is are enough people mad about this gondola proposal and the removal of land from the park to do something about it? Anders says he's had a large response to his post last week encouraging others to voice their opposition. They may have written the developer and the BC government but so far the number of opponents on this forum seems smaller than the number of people who support the gondola or are neutral.

Anders -- can you fill us in here? How strong is the opposition to the gondola? Is there a website or Facebook page? On the CBC story there are 133 comments and from a cursory glance most are opposed.
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:17 am

The blog:The Suburban Mountaineer out of Washington DC has an interesting (outdoor rec tourist perspective) on the Squamish Gondola.
You see, while more approvals are required, the District of Squamish Council in British Colombia has approved the plan to build a gondola within the park. Apparently, the Squamish Council didn’t think its attractions were enough or lucrative enough that they approved an enclosed ski lift for sight seeing the sound.
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by Anders Ourom » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:59 pm

Thanks, Dave.

I've had about 30 direct replies to the message I sent on Saturday, about the proposal by Sea to Sky Gondola Corp. The message was sent to over 300 individuals and groups - essentially, every Squamish climber for whom I had an e-mail address, world-wide, every climbers' and conservation group that might be interested, and a lot of people in B.C. Parks and other government bodies. Including a lot living or based in Squamish, and a number known to be in favour of the proposal. Quite a number asked if they could forward the message, and I said sure. It appears it has gone quite widely, and some of the replies were from groups or individuals I hadn't heard of or met. (I haven't heard of the Suburban Mountaineers before, though.)

In my experience, a 10% reply rate to such a message is quite effective. (Most replies agreed with me, and opposed a gondola in or near the Parks.) I suspect the message has generated considerably more interest, though. I wonder how many messages the politicians are getting, how many hits the forum discussions are generating, and so forth?

My purpose was more than to provide information to as many people and organizations as possible, and to express my reasoned opposition to it. Also, there has been a lack of vision and leadership, for whatever reasons. The developers certainly seem to have followed an effective "divide and rule" strategy, focusing on details rather than the big picture, and where each supposed interest group is separately dealt with. I thought that if I publicly expressed my views, it would encourage others to become involved. I speak only for myself, but perhaps am known to some, and have some influence. If I didn't say something now, when would I? In any event, many who've replied, including residents of Squamish, seem thankful that finally someone is standing up, and providing a needed alternative.

I hope that those groups that ought to be providing leadership on this issue will start to do so. That's their job. The likely suspects, who ought to work together, include groups like:

1. Ordinary citizens of Squamish, who clearly want a voice.
2. Squamish based recreation and conservation organizations.
3. The Access Society (www.access-society.ca), for climbers.
4. The Federation of Mountain Clubs (www.fmcbc.ca), for hikers, and its historical contributions.
5. Conservation groups.
6. Mountain biking groups.
7. Other groups and inviduals interested in the area, in protection of B.C.'s parks, and in the proposal.

Some may have had blinders on, in terms of what the real issues are. It’s OK to admit that you were mistaken, or have learned from others' perspectives, and change your position. Hopefully even Squamish council will do so.

You can still contact:

• Premier Christy Clark: premier@gov.bc.ca or (604) 775-1003
• Terry Lake, Minister of Environment: env.minister@gov.bc.ca or (250) 387-1187
• Joan McIntyre, MLA: joan.mcintyre.mla@leg.bc.ca or (604) 981-0045
• Chief Ian Campbell, Squamish Nation: chief_ian_campbell@squamish.net or (604) 982-8646
• Mayor Rob Kirkham: rkirkham@squamish.ca or (604) 892-5217
• Chair Susan Gimse, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District: sgimse@telus.net or (604) 894-6371
• Sea to Sky Gondola Corp.: info@seatoskygondola.com

State your views, the reasons you have them, why you’re interested in this issue, who you are, and where you live. Remind them that government’s job is to protect and manage parks, in the public interest. Stay on topic!

You can also write to:

• Vancouver Sun: sunletters@vancouversun.com
• Squamish Chief (newspaper) dburke@squamishchief.com
• Globe & Mail letters@globeandmail.ca
• Georgia Straight letters@straight.com
• Vancouver Province provletters@theprovince.com

Finally, you can write to The Land Conservancy of B.C., to ask it to do whatever it can to enforce its moral and legal rights under its agreement with the ‘intermediate’ buyer, and under the restrictive covenant. It’s a large and resourceful organization, and climbers have benefited from TLC’s work at Skaha, and the upper Malemute. TLC needs to stand up for those who trust in it, whether through legal action, influencing its many contacts in government and industry, or otherwise. On paper, TLC made over $1 million from the sale of the gravel pit, which seems to allow many possibilities. Encourage TLC to do the right thing.

The Land Conservancy of B.C.
(250) 479-8053
bturner@conservancy.bc.ca

As for a FaceBook page, perhaps some knowledegeable person will volunteer to create and moderate one, allowing for informed debate, and a poll? Any volunteers? Grassroots democracy, in action.

ps Aaron is right, in that the B.C. government has historically behaved shamefully toward the parks that it was supposedly caring for. Deletions, intrusive or unwanted commercial and industrial activity, favouritism toward friends, and on and on. The parks often seem protected in name only. But just because that's been past practice doesn't mean it should continue.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:48 am

The next big opportunity for the public to express their opinion on the gondola is coming up soon on April 19, at the Britannia Beach Community Centre (60 Copper Drive) starting at 7 p.m. This public hearing is a result of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board of directors approving the second reading of the proposal Monday, March 26. The SLRD must approve a rezoning and official-community-plan-amendment bylaws needed for the gondola's upper terminal. A total of four public readings are required before the SLRD can approve the rezoning and amendments which could happen by the end of May.

The project also requires approvals from the B.C. government for Crown land tenure and the park-boundary change.

I understand the reason the hearing is in Britannia is because the upper terminal is land administered by Electoral Area D and the director for that area is Moe Freitag who lives in Britannia Beach.

I wonder if the turnout could be less because Squamish residents may feel it's too inconvenient to drive there. On the other hand, it's closer to Vancouver, which may result in a bigger crowd.

Anders, this might be the opportunity to argue for the gondola to go up Goat Ridge from Britannia Beach.

On a side note, the huge gravel pit in Britannia Beach (former Malkin Lands) has recently been sold to a Chinese developer. They want to construct an entire village for 4,000 people. At build-out the town's population would be 840 times bigger than it is now.
Check out the developers website southbritannia.com

Back to the Gondola -- the Georgia Straight is doing a good job keeping on top of this developing story check out the latest article regarding the public hearing here

Who plans on going to the hearing?
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:36 pm

Anders,

I would like to hear your thoughts and more details of your suggestion for the Gondola to go up Goat Ridge from Britannia. Looking at Google Earth it seems to me there are power lines to cross if you start low down near the highway.
Image

I have not been up Goat Ridge, so I'm not exactly sure where it is but how far up do you think the Gondola would need to go? Where is Goat Ridge in relation to the Valley of Shadai?

Also, what kind of communication and correspondence have you had with BC Parks and Sea to Sky Gondola ltd? A letter from them responding to these major concerns and detailed questions would put them on public record. For instance were other options like Goat Ridge considered?

A big question many are wondering is if this Gondola fails and goes out of business then what happens? Who is responsible for cleaning up the mess? I'm wondering if demolition of the towers and gondola stations is considered as part of the environmental review process. Anybody know?
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by Anders Ourom » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:44 pm

Thanks, Dave.

I sent my views about the proposal to the premier, various politicians, and others on Tuesday. I received a short response from the premier’s office, but that’s all so far.

I’ve been encouraging others to learn about this, and state their views. There’s been considerable interest, and a meeting of those interested is planned, to discuss next steps.

Just so it’s clear:

1. I oppose a gondola, including that which is proposed, being built in, through, beside, above or otherwise in the near vicinity of Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls Provincial Parks. (Sorry for the mumbo-jumbo, but the restrictive covenant disaster shows caution is advisable.) Land should not be taken from Class A provincial parks for such purposes, directly or indirectly.

2. I am very concerened about the role the BC government has had, in particular that it has acted as facilitator of development, rather than trustee or guardian of parks. Perhaps that’s appropriate for crown land generally, but not Class A provincial parks. Also, BC Parks has not conducted a public review of the proposal, or held independent public meetings in Squamish, Vancouver and elsewhere to discuss it. All this is inconsistent with the spirit if not letter of the Park Act.

3. It seems likely that the proposed gondola would have greater impacts than claimed. Whatever bells and whistles are promised by the developer, what legally binding conditions would be in place, to ensure performance? There is no information at all about who would clean up the mess if the development fails, while under construction or later.

4. It appears that a Britannia – Goat Ridge gondola would in most respects be superior, offer many advantages to the developer, and involve fewer impacts and problems.

I don’t know what – if any – examination of a Britannia/Goat Ridge location the developer may have done. If it claimed that possibility had been properly examined, I’d want to see the proof. Likewise, I’m rather skeptical that the developer looked at sites “world wide”, before settling on its current proposal. Sounds like puffery to me.

It appears that there is room for a lower terminal and related operations at two or more locations in Britannia Beach. One is in the area of the Britannia Mine Museum (http://www.britanniaminemuseum.ca/), which would locate two attractions close together, with obvious synergies. It would depend on whether there’s room for enough parking, other uses in the area, associated facilities, and whether there’s power line clearance.

If that location isn’t feasible, Britannia Creek valley has a gradual gradient. There’s a ‘bench’ less than 500 m east and 100 m above the Museum. (You can see it from the highway.) It’s also east of the power lines. It seems to offer enough room. A gondola and related facilities would be very visible from the highway and area, and it should be possible to ‘connect’ everything. Certainly it’s not right beside the highway, but then neither is Grouse. And there seem to be other possible locations, given the topography.

I don’t know who owns what in Britannia. Much of the old lower townsite is now private land, I believe mostly held by a corporation, but most of the rest of the valley is provincially-owned. Mostly second growth, with the old mine beneath. Not much has happened in Britannia since the mine closed in 1974, despite occasional development proposals. The Museum was refurbished (worth a visit!), the village centre by the highway has slowly improved, and Britannia Creek's water is being treated. It may be that a gondola would kick-start redevelopment.

Britannia Creek floods, sometimes dramatically. 37 people died in a flood there in October 1921, and the most recent flood was in 1991. Much of the valley, especially close to the creek and in flat areas, is unsafe for housing. However, industrial and commercial development is another matter.

Goat Ridge is fairly broad, and has roomy shoulders at about 1,320 m, 1,100 m, and lower down. The upper one is just below the timber/snow line in the photo, the 1,100 m one is about a km south of Petgill Lake. The logging roads out of Britannia Creek from Mount Sheer, and those from Shannon Creek on the other side, seem to come within a km, and might be extended to a terminal site.

There’s no question that Goat Ridge would offer far superior views, out on an open ridge.

Much of Goat Ridge and the north side of Britannia Creek is second growth. There is a popular trail from Murrin Park to Petgill Lake, and a flagged route from there up to Goat Ridge – at least, there was the last time I was there. The Goat Ridge route may not be much used. A gondola from Britannia would be away from both the Valley of the Shaddai, and Petgill Lake – plus both are dips, which gondolas avoid. (Shaddai is probably the lower of the two prominent ‘gouges’ in the photo, parallel to and above the highway.) However, there seems lots of room on Goat Ridge, and the slopes south to Britannia, for networks of hiking and mountain biking trails, connecting to both Britannia and Murrin Park, plus further up Goat Ridge, i.e. decent access to Sky Pilot area and Habrich. A network of mountain biking and perhaps hiking and/or cross country ski trails in upper Shannon Creek also seems possible, with (if topography allows?) links to hiking trails at the Chief, and mountain bike access via the Shannon Creek Road.

There may even be mining remnants on Goat Ridge, for a cultural exhibit.

A Britannia/Goat Ridge route seems a developer’s dream, given its visibility, access, the room to build and grow, ease of acquiring the land (only a few owners to deal with), lack of competing interests, and it not being in or near provincial parks.

Who here has heard of the Chatterbox Café?

Britannia Beach – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britannia_ ... h_Columbia

More at http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum ... YOU-Can-Do

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by Anders Ourom » Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:00 pm

Just so that it's clear, Britannia/Goat Ridge and the Chief/Shannon aren't an either/or situation. The Chief proposal should be rejected, and the land reacquired and made part of the Parks so that we don't have this problem every time a developer from Whistler drives by the Chief. Britannia/Goat Ridge seems a viable alternative, but that's not our problem. The gondola people can do what they like with the idea - no charge.

The developers and others may come up with the following excuses:

1. We already looked at that possibility, and it's not suitable - topography, land ownership, economics, whatever. (Let's see the evidence that they've thoroughly examined it.)
2. It would delay the project. (So what? The owners, or the investors behind it, must be in it for a 20 - 50 year return. What's a year either way? And if they couldn't be bothered to look at it before, because of tunnel vision, that's not the public's problem.)
3. We can't change the process now. (What process? Or is it already a done deal?)

And the issue is that the gondola proposal doesn't belong in or near Class A provincial parks - at all.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:50 am

This week's edition of the Squamish Chief has three opinion/editorial pieces on the Gondola proposal. Here are some observations I take from reading them.
  • • opposition to the development proposal is being framed as coming mainly from outsiders, whereas the majority of Squamish residents support it.
    • the proponents have had an easy time in the public consultation process, encountering little criticism or challenging questions and that might not be a good thing.
    • environmental groups and park advocates have not raised much of a public outcry or initiated a campaign to stop the project. Except for Anders, who is working hard to make known his strong opposition to the proposal, other groups like the FMBC are remaining neutral. And groups that have stated they oppose the removal of land from the park such as the Sierra Club of BC and Valhalla Wilderness Society have so far not joined the campaign.


In his column, All aboard the Squamish Gondola, columnist Ben Lypka, gives the project two thumbs up. He notes the paper’s online poll shows 70 percent in favour, the Squamish Nation chief, council and elders all gave their support in November and the proponent has held over 80 public meetings. So he concludes:
This is a project that will impact Squamish, benefit Squamish and create opportunities for Squamish. So why should we care what Lower Mainland residents have to say about it?
The Squamish Chief editor, David Burke wonders in an editorial if the town’s “thirst for anything that has the potential to boost the local economy” has blinded residents to “potential pitfalls” that might be associated with the project. He’s urging more “public consultation and careful consideration” before the province approves it.

Anders writes a detailed, well argued letter to the editor outlining why he thinks the proposal should be rejected. Leading the reasons why he’s opposed is the following:
It would slash a significant amount of land from the centre of heavily used, well-established Class A provincial parks. What is the point of parks, if they’re not protected?”
At the end of the letter Anders makes a point that even if the gondola goes ahead public pressure should be kept up to ensure it benefits everybody and not just the company’s bottom line. And should the project fail the company is held financially responsible for cleaning up the mess.

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

Post by Anders Ourom » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:26 pm

Friends of the Stawamus Chief (FOSC) now has a FaceBook page.

http://www.facebook.com/FriendsoftheSquamishChief

You can "like" us, read about the issues, learn how you can contribute. It's a fine bit of work by the Friends in Squamish. Hopefully all those interested will have a look.

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by squamish climber » Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:17 pm

The Climbers Access Society of BC (CASBC) sent an update today to members regarding it's position on this proposal.
  • The Sea to Sky Gondola Proposal

    Following the recent news of the proposed change to Stawamus Chief Park, the CASBC Board decided to review our neutral position on the gondola. CASBC was made aware of the proposal in June 2011. We studied the proposal and asked our membership for comment. Based on the comments we received, and since climbing access was not affected, we elected to remain neutral on the matter. We nonetheless lobbied the developers to include trails that would improve access to other climbing areas such as Mt. Habrich and Skypilot. We were accommodated but continued to remain neutral on the proposal.

    We understood that the gondola would have to cross Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and BC Parks would have to address the issue. The proposed solution is to reclassify 2.36 hectares of the Park from Class A Provincial Park to a Protected Area to create a 20m wide right-of-way for the gondola. Obviously we would prefer the Park to remain as it is. However, the fact that climbing access is still not affected and negative feedback from our members has been limited, the Board decided to retain our neutral position on the proposal.
What do people think. If you are a CASBC member (and you should be) let them know. They need input from members to help guide their advocacy and work they do on behalf of climbers.
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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by psi4ce » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:53 am

squamish climber wrote:What do people think. If you are a CASBC member (and you should be) let them know. They need input from members to help guide their advocacy and work they do on behalf of climbers.
I am a CASBC member and I did let them know specifically and on more than one occasion that I think they should oppose the proposal and I am very disappointed at their lack of ability to see that the gondola proposal is a very important access issue.

I am also very disappointed by the lack of response from the local climbing community. People, THINK about how the gondola will change your climbing experience in the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park!

My faith in both the CASBC and the TLC has been seriously compromised by the issue of the gondola proposal. I do not feel that these organizations are representing my interests as a climber, a member of the Squamish community, and a concerned citizen of British Columbia.

Does profit rule supreme?

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Re: Here we go again (Squamish Gondola proposal)

Post by psi4ce » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:34 am

Anders Ourom wrote: State your views, the reasons you have them, why you’re interested in this issue, who you are, and where you live. Remind them that government’s job is to protect and manage parks, in the public interest.
Hey Anders, I just want to say THANKS!

I've been opposed to the gondola proposal right from the start, but you've given us some clear direction. You also inspired me to stop just simply foaming at the mouth about this whole thing (which I admit I have done a fair amount of), and to actually do something. To that effect I just finished a letter-writing campaign (more like an email-writing campaign) specifically seeking politicians and advocacy groups to prevent the "reclassification" of land in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. I hope to continue to stay involved and contribute in a positive manner.

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