B.C. environment minister slammed over Stawamus Chief Provincial Park legislation

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      A former NDP environment minister is calling on the B.C. Liberal government to shelve its plan to carve a strip of land out of Stawamus Chief Provincial Park in Squamish for a proposed sightseeing gondola.

      John Cashore told the Straight he was “a bit shocked” when he heard that Bill 49—the Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2012—received first reading in the legislature on May 7. He called it “disturbing” that B.C. Parks relied on Sea to Sky Gondola Corporation to consult stakeholders, rather than holding its own public meetings or comment period on the company’s park-boundary-adjustment application.

      “If enough British Columbians come forward and express their views on this, they will realize that it is politically wise for them to do the right thing and follow due process,” Cashore, who announced the park’s creation in 1995, said by phone from his Coquitlam home.

      Environment Minister Terry Lake introduced the legislation, which would remove 2.36 hectares from the Chief park for the gondola corridor. The bill would also add 1.93 hectares to the park as part of a Crown land transfer arising from the Sea to Sky Highway expansion project.

      Sea to Sky’s gondola would travel through the park from a base between the Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls to the ridge northwest of Mount Habrich. The gondola would not go up the iconic monolith itself.

      Lake didn’t grant an interview to the Straight by deadline. Sea to Sky principals Trevor Dunn and David Greenfield also declined to be interviewed.

      “The Sea to Sky Gondola team is very encouraged by the First Reading of Bill 49 that includes the reclassification of 2.36 hectares within Stawamus Chief Provincial Park to a Protected Area, and are hopeful for a positive outcome,” Dunn said in a statement. “If passed, it will reward countless hours of input by the Sea to Sky community into the shaping of this project. It will demonstrate that the thorough public engagement process, that has been underway now for 11 months, has helped shape the project to the point that the government can recognize its value to our province’s tourism industry. We see this as a big milestone for the project and are excited at the possibility of moving the project forward from here.”

      Meg Fellowes, former president of the Squamish Environment Society, told the Straight she’s “horrified at the lack of public process”. According to the Brackendale resident, the Class A park was created through a “transparent” process in the 1990s, but the park amendment is being “rushed” through without proper consultation.

      “I think all people who care about parks in B.C. have to be concerned about that,” Fellowes said by phone from Whistler.

      Cashore remarked that he hopes Lake has a “reawakening”, becomes a parks advocate, and removes the Chief proposal from his bill pending public consultation.

      “I think what is happening here is disrespectful to the integrity of Class A parks in B.C.,” Cashore said. “I fear that it’s putting proponents [of development] on notice that they can be in charge of the process, and that this could result in opening the floodgates for a large number of requests in areas that are Class A parks.”

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      May 9, 2012 at 8:21pm

      No surprise here. Only environmentalists think that they should be the only ones to have the final say in how our parks are used. The only reason the greens are pushing for more public process is so they can stack the meetings and try to create the impression that theirs is the majority point of view. There has been an adequate public process already. Squamish council should not fall for that old trick.

      As someone who pays a considerable amount of provincial tax every year, part of which is used to support parks, I am absolutely in agreement that building a gondola in this location is an appropriate use for provincial park land. There are many people who would agree with me.

      Yet, environmentalists believe that nobody should be able to use the park unless it is in a way that they approve of. These people need to understand that there are more valid points of view out there than just those of hard-core environmentalists.


      May 9, 2012 at 8:46pm

      I like the idea of having more access to see beautiful BC and inspiring people to feel connected to nature, but at what cost? If this is going to set the precedent for more developers to manipulate protected land in the name of tourism and put other parks at risk - it's not really worth it.

      OH REALLY!?

      May 9, 2012 at 10:12pm

      Did the environment minister really get SLAMMED? What kind of SLAM was it? A simple body slam? A suplex? Did it happen on the floor of the legislature? Was he SLAMMED by a door being slammed, perhaps on the way out of the legislature? Did Environment Critic John Cashore grab the Minister Terry Lake by the back of the head and SLAM his face into a urinal while he was trying to take a piss in the legislature bathroom? Or did he SLAM him into his own desk as he perused the final version of the legislation, as the title of the article suggests? Or did he pick up another MLA and SLAM that member into the honourable Minister Lake in the legislature parking lot?

      Fucking slam headlines always a fucking letdown.

      Theresa Negreiff

      May 10, 2012 at 6:49pm

      If you agree This gondola project should not be considered within a provincial park without a full impartial public hearing, please sign the Friends of the Squamish Chirf petition: