At almost 2,000 square kilometres, Garibaldi Provincial Park is the largest park in the southwest corner of B.C. It's also the park closest to 2.6 million British Columbians living in the Lower Mainland area, and as a result it's one of the most heavily used.
Currently the province is in the process of updating its management plan for Garibaldi Park, and accepting public feedback online until Mar. 15.
Among other things, the province is asking the public their opinion on access issues that are important to the Whistler area.
One question relates to how people feel about mountain biking in the study area of Garibaldi Park — an area defined as the portion of the park from Wedge Creek to the north side of Cheakamus Lake, and south and east following the boundary.
The Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) was established in 1989 to lobby for the return of biking to the park, and specifically to Singing Pass.
When asked about the provincial survey, WORCA released this statement:
"WORCA is very excited about the prospect of expanding mountain biking in Garibaldi Park and believes with the proper access management plan and trail stewardship, the trails within the study area can become open to mountain bikers. We encourage all members to fill out the survey and not miss this rare opportunity to provide their comments and opinions."
The survey also asks people how they feel about the proposed four-season hut system around the Spearhead Traverse, which can be accessed from Whistler or Blackcomb mountains.
Jayson Faulkner, who chairs the Spearhead Hut Project working group and sits on Whistler Council, is also encouraging supporters to fill out the survey. So far he says the plans have been well received.
"We are certainly confident that the public is very supportive of the idea," said Faulkner. Certainly all of our member groups.... are very much advocates of backcountry use, environmental protection, conservation and so on. We've polled the executives for groups and we have lots of feedback from the past two years from other groups, so we have a pretty good idea what the public feels and what the public opinion is on this, which has been nothing for the most part but supportive."
If the hut system is included in the amended management plan, that doesn't mean BC Parks will fund the construction of at least three huts as well as trail construction. Faulkner says his group has already raised close to $60,000 towards the estimated $2 million bill, but they've downplayed the fundraising aspect until they can get approvals in place, and a completed plan with hut designs and maps to share with donors. Once the approval and the plan is complete, Faulkner says they will be more aggressive pursuing grants, donations and in-kind donations.
The survey also broaches the topic of heli-skiing, which is currently allowed in Garibaldi Park under Whistler Heli-Skiing's tenure. Their park use permit was extended for five years in 2011 to allow heliskiing in the Spearhead Range.
To learn more or fill out the survey, visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/planning/mgmtplns/garibaldi/garibaldi_mp.html.