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Snowmobilers banned from upper Callaghan Valley

Province decrees new land use plan effective immediately



Snowmobilers are up in arms about a new provincial ban that prevents them from getting into the upper Callaghan Valley, one of their favourite snowmobile routes to the alpine.

“There’s going to be some fur and paint flying soon,” said Lincoln Ferguson, president of the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club.

“We’re fighting as hard as we can.”

Ferguson is referring to the brand new ban which prevents any winter recreation motorized use in the mid- to upper Callaghan Valley from Nov. 1 to May 15. This prevents snowmobilers from accessing the Pemberton Icecap via the Callaghan, forcing them to access their winter playground via the Brandywine to the south or the Rutherford to the north.

The ban is welcome news to Carson, one of the board members of the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment.

“People want to go back there and enjoy the quiet,” he said,

The ban is effective immediately according to an ad in last week’s Pique Newsmagazine.

When asked to comment on the Section 58 order, the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts issued a press release, which states in part that:

“The new recreation order will help reduce conflicts between snowmobilers, cross country skiers and other users.

“Government is committed to providing solutions to recreation resource use that satisfy the greatest number of users and provide for the long term sustainability of recreation trails.”

Mike Blomfield, of the Black Tusk Snowmobile Club, said he wants to see the numbers that support that.

Snowmobiling is a growing sport and an extensive economic generator to the region, spending money on gas, accommodation and food.

“We’re not about shutting other groups out,” he said. “Everyone wants to shut us out.”

The Callaghan is a popular thoroughfare to the renowned Pemberton Icecap, a breathtakingly huge expanse of glaciers connected through mountain valleys and ridges. It covers several hundred square miles of terrain.

Snowmobilers have long had access to that area through the Callaghan Provincial Park, across the Callaghan Lake.

But things changed significantly in recent years after Vancouver and Whistler won the right to host the 2010 Olympic Games and the Callaghan Valley become the official site of the Nordic competition venue, now called Whistler Olympic Park.

The plan is that the Olympic park will become a cross country skiing Mecca with dozens of kilometres of trails winding through the forest.

The non-motorized ban includes Whistler Olympic Park and parts of the Squamish Nation Wild Spirit Place Payakentsut.

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