Legislation introduced to remove land from Stawamus Chief Provincial Park for Sea to Sky Gondola
Ourom, an organizer with Friends of the Squamish Chief—an ad hoc group fighting the proposed sightseeing gondola—spoke to the Straight hours after the B.C. Liberal government introduced legislation to take a 2.36-hectare strip out of the Class A park. In the 1990s, he sat on both the study team that recommended the creation of the park and the citizens’ advisory committee that helped draw up the park’s management plan.
“This just highlights the importance of people saying what they think of the project and the process to the government as soon as possible—signing the online petition that we have, writing to the various addresses,” Ourom said by phone from his Vancouver home office. “It underscores the importance of people getting their two cents in now.”
Today (May 7), Bill 49—the Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2012—received first reading in the B.C. legislature.
Introduced by Environment Minister Terry Lake, the bill would establish 10 new conservancies and tinker with several protected areas around the province.
“I expect two of the boundary modifications to rightfully attract special interest,” Lake said in the house, according to the Hansard transcript. “Specifically, 2.36 hectares are being removed from Stawamus Chief Park. If the Legislature approves this amendment, it is proposed that the lands removed from the park be established as Stawamus Chief protected area under the Environment and Land Use Act. This will allow for the application of a park use permit for facility development associated with the gondola development through what is now the park.”
Sea to Sky Gondola Corporation’s proposed gondola would travel through the park from a base on private land, between the Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls, to a top terminal on Crown land on the ridge northwest of Mount Habrich.
In December, the company applied to take the 20-metre-wide, 1.18-kilometre-long corridor out of the 526-hectare park. Sea to Sky plans to build seven of 15 towers and cut 364 to 597 cubic metres of timber in the gondola right of way.
A news release from the Ministry of Environment says Bill 49 would also add about 1.93 hectares of land to the park. The addition is “a result of Crown lands transferred to the ministry in 2008 from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for a closed road that was no longer needed as part of the Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project”, the release notes.
According to information provided to the Straight by the ministry, the park’s boundaries were modified in 2007 as part of the Sea to Sky Highway expansion project.
Bills require three readings and royal assent to become law. The spring legislative session is scheduled to end on May 31.
As of 5 p.m. today, 163 people had signed Friends of the Squamish Chief's online petition expressing opposition to the gondola project and calling for a public hearing on the park-adjustment proposal.