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Setback for Friendship Trail

Proponents vow to continue their goal of linking Mount Currie, Pemberton



Proponents of the Friendship Trail linking Pemberton and Mount Currie faced their first setback this week from CN Rail.

A letter to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, which was received at Monday’s meeting, outlined CN’s response to the proposed trail which hugs the rail line and runs along the rail right of way.

"We cannot agree to have such a trail placed alongside our tracks because of the very real safety hazard that would be both to trail users and train crews," wrote Graham Dallas, CN’s regional manager, communications, public affairs and advertising.

The proposed 7 kilometre trail runs along an area already well used by community members, one of the very reasons to put an established trail there, said Maureen Douglas, who along with Nathalie Klein, Jordan Sturdy and Sheldon Tetreault came up with the idea to link the two communities.

An established trail would create a safer alternative she said, ultimately lowering CN’s liability.

She also added that there are many examples throughout the province of trails running beside rail lines.

As such Douglas said this letter would not dissuade the "trail team" from their goal.

"We are moving forward with information packages and basically a proposal that will go to the CN board of directors and other affected parties," she said this week. "We’re committed to seeing this through."

The SLRD board also resolved at Monday’s meeting to invite Graham Dallas to the area to explain the trail in detail.

Douglas added: "It’s a good idea that the community supports."

The Friendship Trail will cost about half a million dollars to create.

Sea to Sky Trail moves along

As the Friendship Trail stumbles over its first roadblock, the Sea to Sky Trail is moving forward.

The SLRD has awarded Whistler-based Cascade Environmental Resource Group the contract to begin work on a master plan for the 150 km trail stretching from Squamish to D’Arcy.

The plan will assess the feasibility of the trail and guide its implementation if a decision is made to move ahead with construction. The plan will be a section-by-section guide, describing route options, tenure options and context for the trail development.

To date the Sea to Sky Trail has been adopted by the SLRD and the councils of Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton in its conceptual form.

The trail will be a one to two metres wide gravel trail suitable for a variety of recreation users, from cyclists to pedestrians, equestrians and possibly cross country skiers. It will include sections of existing trails through the corridor municipalities and the SLRD.

This master planning process will cost $23,000 and will be complete by mid-September.

Highway realignment gets SLRD support

After an outpouring of community concern, the Ministry of Transportation is now seriously considering moving Highway 99 eastwards at Black Tusk.

The move comes after consultation with the community which revealed the residents of Black Tusk and Pinecrest had serious concerns about the MOT’s plans to upgrade the highway outside their two communities just south of Whistler.

Specifically, they were worried about safety, noise and water contamination of Retta Lake, the potable water supply for the two communities.

Residents proposed another option for the highway alignment. They wanted to see the highway move 300 metres east from the existing alignment for a two km stretch past Pinecrest and Black Tusk.

That proposal was originally considered beyond the scope of the highway upgrade project but the MOT has since made an application to the Environmental Assessment Office to change the Environmental Assessment Certificate to accommodate the move eastwards.

The board of the SLRD voted unanimously the advise the EAO that it "strongly supports" the realignment.

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