B.C. Parks planners have completed a draft management plan for the Callaghan Provincial Park and now it is the publics turn for input.
The draft goes on view Monday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Myrtle Philip community centre. Other open houses will also likely be scheduled for Pemberton, Squamish and North Vancouver, said parks extension officer Vicki Haberl.
The next step will be to compile and review the public feedback and determine what changes should be made to the plan based on that input, said Haberl.
The plan then goes to Parks Management Committee, at a provincial level, for approval before it becomes a signed-off document. This could take several months.
A corridor that allows for snowmobile access through the park is likely to be the most contentious aspect of the management plan.
"We hope we have proposed an option for snowmobile access that is going to be acceptable to both sides of that debate," said Haberl.
"One of the key recommendations of the study team was that the plan allow for snowmobiling, but it has been restricted to a corridor through the park to provide access to the more extensive snowmobiling terrain beyond the park boundaries," said Haberl.
"We didnt want to cut snowmobilers off from a traditional access route. We are just proposing that snowmobiling not occur throughout the park because that would, in effect, eliminate other recreational opportunities."
Any commercial operators in the park would still, however, need to apply for a park use permit.
The Callaghan Provincial Park was one of the 23 protected areas announced by the province in 1996 to complete the Protected Area Strategy for the Lower Mainland region. The area covers 2,667 hectares of old growth forests and provides excellent backcountry recreation opportunities within easy access from Whistler.
The road to a park designation for the Callaghan has, however, been rocky.
According to a report prepared by consultants Terra Firma for B.C. Parks, the Ministry of Environment and the Garibaldi-Sunshine Coast district, a Callaghan Lake park proposal was first developed by B.C. Parks in the early 1980s. It called for protection of a 10,000 hectare area, more than three times the size of the current park. And it came within a hairs breadth of being sanctioned.
Draft plans for the 10,000 hectare park were submitted by the assistant deputy minister for designation as a recreation area for review by Cabinet in November, 1982.
Cabinet approval was granted for a Class A provincial park. A draft news release was prepared for the announcement in August, 1983. It needed only the signature of the Lieutenant Governor to become an Order-In-Council.