With the three peaks of the Stawamus Chief, and the trails to Slhaney and Upper Shannon Falls, there’s already five great reasons to go hiking in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. As early as summer 2013, there could be a few more grounds for hikers to head up to Squamish.
Sea to Sky Gondola Corporation is proposing to build a gondola between the Chief and Shannon Falls. From a base terminal next to Highway 99, the gondola would rise 820 metres to the wooded ridge northwest of Mount Habrich. The company says the project would make access to the high country behind the Chief much easier for tourists, hikers, and other outdoor-recreation enthusiasts who buy a ticket, which would cost about $30. The plan is to operate the gondola year-round during daylight hours, but only on weekends during slow periods.
However, as the Georgia Straight reported this week, building the gondola would require installing seven towers in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and permanently removing a one-kilometre-long, 20-metre-wide corridor from the park. The two-hectare right of way would be reclassified as a protected area, if the park-boundary adjustment is approved by the B.C. Liberal government and the legislative assembly. Sea to Sky’s lower and upper terminals would sit on land adjacent to the park.
Let’s look at the likely hiking opportunities and impacts presented by the gondola project, from bottom to top.