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Creature of the Black Tusk

Greed, Avarice, Venality. Lesser traits of the human condition. The founder outdoor clubs who fought to create Garibaldi Provincial Park had higher motives. But, under provincial administration the founders' lofty vision has been demeaned and debased. The park today is under threat. BC Liberals and BC Parks roll out the welcome mat to commercial development while curtailing hiking and climbing access and threatening the founder outdoor club guardians with jail and heavy fines.

Open the Master Plan

Do you concur with the mission statement of the Outdoor Recreation Council?

Promoting access to and responsible use of BC's public lands and waters for public outdoor recreation

We do.

We restored access to the heritage Darling Lake Trail in 2015. It is an existing trail in a lawfully recognized backcountry recreation corridor. It would seem uncontroversial and beneficial to public outdoor recreation. Instead, our efforts stirred a hornet’s nest starting with BC Parks, particularly the Lower Mainland Region and Squamish/Sea to Sky District offices. In the analogy, they immediately went into attack mode by bringing in Compliance and Enforcement officers to issue ludicrous stop work orders containing factual errors and threats of jail time and heavy fines. Dialogue did not seem to be an option. Clearly, something is seriously wrong and it is not heritage trail restoration efforts.

We are laying out the case to reopen the Garibaldi Park Master Plan by the year 2020. We see it as the only option available to restore backcountry access and issue a rebuke of park managment practices and provincial government interference.

By 2020, it will be 30 years since the Garibaldi Park 1990 Master Plan was approved. The master plan had a term of five years, which expired in 1995. An amendment was approved for the Spearhead area in 2014. Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton have developed as recreation meccas and Garibaldi Park is on their doorstep. Recreation demand from the Vancouver region has dramatically increased in 30 years. It is time for a new master plan that reflects present day realities of recreation demand. It is also overdue to address the encroachment of commercial interests and development on Garibaldi Park's western flank. It is also time to take aim at the gross interference by the provincial government in park management.

What started as a trail restoration project has grown to address grievances of a multitude of backcountry recreationists and outdoor groups – grievances that have been simmering for at least the last decade. Garibaldi Park 2020 web site is home to a fact-based, science-based and widely democratic organization seeking a massive overhaul of the park master plan and rebuke of paternalistic, condescending and unscientific park management practices. Rebalancing is required.

Somewhere along the way, park managers lost their connection to the original principles that guided the formation of Garibaldi Park by park founders. Park managers since 1990 became the agents for commercial interests advancing their business models at the expense of park land. There is heli-skiing in the Spearhead, removal of park land for commercial ski development, ceding Singing Pass trailhead access to Whistler-Blackcomb for bike parks and ATV racing or standing silently by while extravagant real estate developments are promoted up to the park boundary at Brohm Ridge. We find that park managers either through their actions or inaction obstruct and deny access to backcountry areas of the park. The current park master plan does not sanction restricting access nor does it put specific limits on park usage. The use of terms such as “low to moderate use” is ambiguous, depends on the frame of reference of the reader and in no way justifies limiting recreation opportunities. 

Park deletions since 1966 are numerous. Park users may today be hiking a trail or climbing a mountain that tomorrow is carved out of the park and given away to commercial enterprises. Think of Blackcomb Glacier and Mount Garibaldi. The decisions are made behind closed doors of provincial cabinet for the benefit of the real estate and ski industries. We must prevent the government treating the park as a land bank from which withdrawals can be made whenever a new profit scheme crops up.

Meanwhile, park managers make inconsistent decisions on wildlife matters over different areas of the park. It’s okay to fly helicopters, develop snowmobile and hiking trails, massive ski areas, real estate developments and cabins right next to mountain goat winter range in the Spearhead Range and Brohm Ridge. But the presence of a hiking trail no closer than 350 meters to mountain goat winter range on the steep western edge of Darling Ridge brings out the C&E officers getting heavy with the BCMC for alleged, scientifically unsupportable impacts on goats. The decisions made on wildlife matters or lack thereof, is inconsistent with their own science-based policy papers. On the contrary, they extend heli-skiing permits, support park deletions and ignore the advice of their own studies on how to protect mountain goats from mechanized activity. There is no one in BC Parks standing up to prevent the extirpation of mountain goats and grizzly bears in the Spearhead Range and Brohm Ridge from egregious commercial development. Obviously, money talks when your friends are in the real estate and ski industries.

The 1990 park master plan is clearly deficient in not recognizing the importance of the heritage Darling Lake Trail. The Sea-to-Sky Land and Resource Management Plan of April 2008 does. It recognizes the important backcountry corridor through which the trail runs towards Darling Lake and Mamquam Icefield. When the park master plan was created in 1990, road access was still in place up Skookum Creek and the trail easily accessible with a footbridge across East Fork Skookum Creek. The use of road and trail was widely accepted as a backcountry access corridor even before its lawful designation. No one in 1990 expected BC Parks to obstruct and deny access to the trail and Mamquam Icefield and nor did they obstruct access at that time. Thus it was a great surprise to the outdoor community in 2015 when BC Parks chose to do so. It was a serious planning error in 1990 to place Mamquam Icefield under wilderness rather than natural environment zoning. The error is used today to justify obstructive actions that are not sanctioned in the master plan. The parks service has crossed the line with these actions, a line beyond which there is no legal basis.

How will new trails be paid for?

Garibaldi Park 2020 is suggesting no new monies are required to fund the ambitious trail development plan. Mountain clubs are already managing trail development in the Esté-tiwilh/Sigurd Creek Conservancy and Tantalus Provincial Park. (Esté-tiwilh is pronounced us-tut-ee-wayth.) Since 1990, mountain clubs have managed and extended the original trapper's trail for 7 kilometers from Ashlu River to the west ridge of Ossa Mountain. Grants over the span of three years totalling about $7,000 have been awarded for footbridge replacement and trail development. Over the course of 25 years, the trail has benefited from approximately 300 days of volunteer effort just on Sigurd and Rose Trails in the Sigurd conservancy. It is a very successful model that can be applied to the heritage Darling Lake Trail and any other trails in the proposal.

Rebalance the Garibaldi Park 1990 Master Plan

  • Foster restoration of heritage trails.
  • Stop crime. Prosecute criminal elements smashing windows and looting cars at trailheads.
  • End bureaucratic complacency. Restore public access to Singing Pass trailhead.
  • Build trail not a career obstructing recreation.
  • Stop zoning rip-offs and land grabs by commercial interests.
  • Stop backroom deals with developers.
  • Inquiry into park deletions since 1966
  • Curb excessive interference in park management by provincial government.

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