Category Archives: The environment

Heli Biking application in the Pemberton area-express your views to the government

Blackcomb Helicopters is applying to increase helicopter traffic up to four times in the Pemberton area to allow for heli biking at Tenquille-Owl lakes.

The government is still receiving comments on the application. Deadline was extended until July 26. Follow this link for more information and make your views known.

For the record, the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC and the Pemberton Wildlife Association (PWA) have formally opposed this Application. PWA provides volunteer management and maintenance of the trails and wilderness camps and cabins in that area.

Voice your opinion, every response counts. Deadline is July 26.

Identifier is Lands file#: 2411936

READ: the short application: https://arfd.gov.bc.ca/ApplicationPosting/viewpost.jsp?PostID=55367

Have your say: Near the bottom of the page under ‘End Decisions’ you will see “To Comment on this application please click [ here ].”

Mail in Option: Senior Land Officer/FLNRORD, #200 – 10428 153rd St., Surrey BC V3R 1E1

Or email to same: AuthorizingAgency.Surrey@gov.bc.ca

CC comments to: Nicola Bickerton, FLNRORD Nicola.Bickerton@gov.bc.ca, Jordan Sturdy, MLA – Jordan.Sturdy.MLA@leg.bc.ca

More details and background info

The Pemberton Wildlife Association (PWA) partners with Rec Sites & Trails BC, providing volunteer management and maintenance of the trails and wilderness camps/cabin within Tenquille to Owl Lake Recreation Area (TOLRA).

The goal is to maintain a high-quality (3 season) Wilderness experience for hikers/backpackers and self-propelled mountain-bikers while protecting the flora and fauna that so many enjoy.

PWA needs your input to preserve the peaceful trails, alpine valleys and camping that TOLRA has offered the local community & visitors for generations.

Blackcomb Helicopters (BH) is applying for a Commercial Heli-biking Tenure(license) in the TOLRA. They currently conduct heli-biking, using the main Tenquille Lake historic trail (est.1917) and a connecting artery (Mt Barbour trail) from an alpine landing zone. Their tenure application proposes by 2020, to triple traffic on this trail (over 2016 traffic) and add 3 new trails - swelling overall Descent Days to 2400 - just in TOLRA. A ratio of flights to group numbers would equate to near 400 flights/season - ferrying between 4 alpine trails. This is a significant increase in helicopter over-flights and cargo of downhill velocity riders. It is impossible to not see how this peaceful refuge for humans and animals would be negatively impacted.

TOLRA is an increasingly rare alpine recreation area in the Sea to Sky region. The tsunami of tourism pressure has overwhelmed the carrying capacity of many – think Joffre Lakes! Though not difficult, the effort of hiking/pedaling into TOLRA is its saviour. Taxiing significant numbers of ’Resort Downhill Park riders’ into this sensitive alpine environment is simply incompatible.

The debate about heli-biking in the TOLRA has been going on for over ten years. The PWA has consistently objected to the activity due to environmental impacts and the loss of wilderness values in the area. This application now going through the referral process provides an opportunity to let the government know how you feel about this type of recreation. The responsibility for this new tourism industry lies squarely in their court. We believe that both tenured and unregulated public heli-biking should be put on hold until the Province develops stringent legislation to manage the activity and determine where it is appropriate.

The PWA’s specific interest is within the borders of TOLRA although the application proposes Heli-biking Trails outside this Recreation area as well.

The PWA prefers not to have Heli-biking in TOLRA.

Please keep in mind that Blackcomb Helicopters is a reputable local company whom we have a good working relationship with. This is not “us” against “them”. The PWA acknowledges their helpful support for their current use. Blackcomb Helicopters cannot be blamed for seeking to expand business, although we disagree with the locale.

It is the government that makes the decision and who MUST HEAR FROM YOU.

PWA main concerns with the application are :

  • Tripling of heli-biking decent days (over 2016 numbers) on the main trail with a plan to add 3 more trails bringing total descent days to 2400 just within TOLRA.

  • the above will equate to approx. 400 helicopter overflights between 4 trails - severely impacting the peaceful refuge for humans and animals.

  • degradation of a quality alpine wilderness area enjoyed by generations of (non-winter) self propelled visitors.

  • instant delivery of large groups, overwhelming the threshold of manageable visitation (carrying capacity) appropriate for a sensitive alpine environment.

  • erosion of volunteer support due to perceived aid of a commercial activity they don’t agree with.

  • no Gov’t legislation in place to determine proper locale, guidelines or enforcement specific to this NEW commercial activity.

  • concern that the Govt agency making the decision will be based outside the region and not consider their regional staff or local community’s advice.

Public Consultation for protection of Ancient Forest

Fellow hikers please note that the province is currently accepting email comments on a plan to preserve the Ancient Forest near Prince George likely under a “Class A” provincial park designation.  Click here to view the press release.  FMCBC’s Member Club, the Caledonia Ramblers, has been working on building trails and boardwalks in the Ancient Forest for several years now and would appreciate support for this plan.

To participate in the public consultation process please review the consultation paper and then send a letter of support to ancientforest@gov.bc.ca before November 2nd (4pm).

Cristina,  NSH Delegate to FMCBC

Proposed Ski Development at Brohm Ridge

There is a proposal to develop a commercial ski operation at Brohm Ridge, by "Garibaldi at Squamish". On September 23, 2015, the FMCBC, of which this club is a member, held a meeting with representatives from the developer. Here are the highlights of the meeting.

  1. the maps shown (no different from the online versions, except bigger) depicted the ski runs and the "resort development", both of which run very close to Garibaldi Park (they claimed a 50-metre buffer zone, which Mike rightly said was pretty close to the Park);
  2. when challenged that "ski hills don't make money, the real estate surrounding them does", and although there is no real estate, actual or proposed, on the maps, Chris admitted that in exchange for building the ski hill, they will be able to obtain real estate "at a nominal price"; they weren't too clear on what a nominal price meant; and of course we have no real idea as to the extent of their property aspirations;
  3. the displaced snowmobilers (and there are lots using this area) were unfortunately directed by GAS to an area that is currently a non-motorized area; GAS was informed of the Sea to Sky LRMP and the sectoral distinctions between motorized and non, and could they please at least direct them to a motorized area in future;
  4. GAS was made very aware, largely through the Fellers and Monika, of the numerous frustrations FMCBC and member clubs have experienced in the past: not being consulted, not being listened to, Garibaldi Park being revised by the Government for Whistler/Blackcomb, no enforcement of the motorized activity, especially the snowmobilers, and more;
  5. in good "I feel your pain" style, responding by GAS, the 3rd member (Peter something) suggested it could be possible to have a covenant or easement up against the Park, requiring FMCBC's consent to encroach (I'll believe that when I see it, but they must be reminded of this in the future);
  6. it will be 4-5 years at least before actual construction could begin;
  7. GAS made it sound like there won't be any snowmobiles buzzing around their ski resort; it would be as much of an annoyance to hotel guests there as to anyone else;
  8. when asked why they would succeed where numerous others have not, the response seemed to be their thoroughness, aided by their "deep pockets";
  9. Monika made a great point that, in essence, we are arguing for the public's benefit (The Public's Right to Quiet Enjoyment of our Parks); every other dog in this fight has a vested interest.

Mack Skinner,
secretary of FMCBC, exec member of North Shore Hikers.