After operating under temporary use permits for several years, Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA) has a permanent home in the Callaghan Valley.
The adventure tour operator's rezoning application was given third reading and adopted at the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's (SLRD) Oct. 26 board meeting.
"Pretty exciting times," CWA owner Allan Crawford said afterwards.
"It's just kind of amazing when you put your whole life into something and you have a vision, and you actually see that it's going to unfold in front of you. You know it's actually working and people are buying into it.
"I really appreciate this community, and all the support we've had. It's going to be so much fun building this little paradise world out there."
The rezoning allows uses and facilities that are included in CWA's 2007 management plan — an updated management plan, which includes an expansion of the tenure, has yet to be approved by the province.
CWA will need to apply for development permits with the SLRD to take advantage of the approved uses in its new zoning, which include staff cabins, a celestial observatory, zipline courses and more.
A public hearing on Oct. 6 drew a wide range of responses, including some concerns around motorized uses, trail access and the potential impact to grizzly bear populations in the Callaghan.
"Many of the issues raised will be considered and dealt with through the development permit process," said SLRD board chair Jack Crompton.
If the proponent were to build a zipline, for example, the siting of the course, potential impacts on Alexander Falls and other impacted areas would all be considered through the development permit process, Crompton said.
"Obviously the growth of grizzly populations in the Callaghan is a pretty exciting development, and ensuring the health of that population will be part of that development permit phase (as well)," he said.
There will be no further public hearings through the development permit processes, but "there are opportunities for direction from the board going forward at many points," Crompton said.
"The applicant must meet the criteria as set out in the development permit guidelines that are in the Area D OCP (Official Community Plan), so they are working with staff who ensure that the regulations and guidelines are adhered to."
The permanent zoning was necessary as CWA's current temporary use permit was set to expire in November.
"CWA is a big piece of our tourism community, so making this temporary use permanent makes a lot of sense to me," Crompton said.
For Crawford and CWA, the real work is just beginning — preliminary water and sewer work has already begun, and development plans are also in the works.
"I'm already employing structural engineers and mechanical engineers," Crawford said.
"And so I would imagine I'm going to learn a lot in the very near future."