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RMOW urges more dialogue on mountain biking in park

Councillor Jayson Faulkner casts first dissenting vote over response



The municipality has joined the chorus of community voices eager to keep BC Parks talking and reconsidering its ban on mountain biking in Garibaldi Provincial Park.

"Whistler is in effect the front door to the backcountry in this part of park," said municipal sustainability coordinator Kevin Damaskie in his presentation to council Tuesday, referring to Whistler's interest in the ultimate plans for the park.

In its comments on the draft management plan, council requested that BC Parks keep the door open for dialogue on the issue. At the same time it has thrown its general support behind the draft management plan for the Spearhead Area of the park.

"The RMOW is supportive of an ongoing, collaborative dialogue between BC Parks, RMOW and other relevant stakeholders regarding the potential addition of cross country mountain biking as a park use," states the municipal staff report. "Above treeline mountain bike infrastructure experiences and stunning viewscapes are a value-add to the resort community's current trail offerings — enhancing resort experience, community life and economic viability. RMOW recommends the management plan amendment reflect a commitment to that dialogue."

In November the BC Parks draft plan included a continued ban on mountain biking in the section of park that includes Singing Pass and Musical Bumps, much to the dismay of mountain biking advocates in the community.

BC Parks initiated the management plan amendment to address several issues in the area. Among them:

• Challenges with public access

• Increasing summer and winter use

• Addressing popularity of mountain biking

• Interest in developing a system of backcountry huts, and

• Renewal of the heli-skiing tenure.

The issue is near and dear to Councillor Jayson Faulkner's heart. He is intimately involved in the Spearhead Huts proposal and is the council rep on the Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee (FWAC), which does not support the continued heli-skiing tenure in the park.

Faulkner voted against the municipal response, effectively casting the first dissenting vote after more than a year at the council table.

Florence Petersen Park approved

Beloved Whistler pioneer Florence Petersen will have a spot forever in her name among the tall trees of a village forest.

Petersen passed away in late August. At the request of the executive director of the Whistler Museum, Sarah Drewery, council was asked to consider naming the open space next to the museum after its founder.

It has gone one step further.

In addition to that open space, council is also renaming the adjacent Village Park Centre. It will create a new park altogether with a new name — Florence Petersen Park.

The improvements, which include adding signage and seating and improving pathways and sightlines, are set to take place in the spring/summer once the 2013 municipal budget has been approved.