The Ministry of Transportation was successful in its application to preserve over 334 hecatres of land north of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, after making an application to the province in September to offset land disturbed in the Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project.
According to the Integrated Land Management Bureau, the application was successfully processed on Oct. 25 after reviewing the application, designating the space as a conservation area. In the future, the bureau may decide to add the land to the provincial park, but in the meantime the designation ensures that no industrial or resource activities will take place within the area boundaries.
The area stretches from the north boundaries of Brandywine Provincial Park, between Highway 99 in the west and the Cheakamus River in the east. The northern boundary extends to the southern boundary of the Cal-Cheak Forest Service Recreation Site and includes the Suspension Bridge. A small section of land has also been set aside on the west side of the highway, connecting to a section of Brandywine Park.
The area also includes a section of railway tracks and two trails — the Campground to McGuire Station Rough Trail, and the Campground to McGuire Station Trail.
“The reason we have an interest in the land is to see it environmentally protected,” said Jeff Knight, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation. “The goal is to offset the work on the Sea to Sky Highway project, setting aside an environmentally protected area in exchange for the work we’ve done. We try to ensure that the impact of our highway projects is neutral, or try to do better and provide land that is over and above the impact of the highway.”
According to Knight, this is the second time that the Ministry of Transportation has set aside a protected area during the highway upgrades, with the protection of another area to the south of Squamish. First Nations with land claims that overlap the highway have also been compensated with parcels of Crown land.