Squamish Chief Gondola

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Did you know that there are plans for building a gondola up the Chief in? Read the following snippet from the CLIMBERS' ACCESS SOCIETY OF B.C. and voice your opinion on this controversial issue!


From http://www.friendsofthechief.ca

"On October 25, the developers announced that they were abandoning their plans to construct a gondola in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park.

Friends of the Chief sincerely thanks all its supporters: in Squamish, and from elsewhere in British Columbia and Canada, and the world. We thank the District of Squamish for its support, and applaud the decision of the Squamish Nation."

Stawamus Chief Gondola Proposal

A proposal has been made to build a tourist gondola and associated facilities on the Stawamus Chief. The gondola would start at the gravel pit between the Chief and Shannon Falls, and end in an enclosed area on the second summit. The gondola is contrary to the 1997 master plan for Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, although the plan can be over-ridden if there is sufficient public or political support.

This issue has been extensively covered in the media. National and international climbers' organizations have become involved. Squamish climbing legends Ed Cooper and Fred Beckey, and many others, have written to oppose it. A lot has happened, and the Access Society and others have been working hard, but it will take much time and effort before this is resolved. Contact squamish(at)access-society.ca for copies of earlier broadcast e-mails about the gondola.

The Access Society's position is that a tourist gondola may be appropriate somewhere in the Squamish area, after proper planning and public debate. Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is not an appropriate location for any gondola. Our concerns include visual impacts, conflicts with the many existing users (climbers, hikers, viewers), symbolism, impact on Squamish's image in the international climbing community, and the precedent for development in other parks.

The Access Society encourages all with an interest in the proposed gondola to:

  • Learn more about it.
  • Write to the provincial government to express your views, as soon as possible.
  • Attend the meeting of Squamish Council on September 28th, where the proponents will present their plans.
  • Participate in other ways in the debate.

What to do about it

Please write to:

Bill Barisoff, Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection 
P.O. Box 9047, St'n. Prov. Gov't.
Victoria, B.C.
Canada V8W 9E2
(250) 387-1187, or [email protected]
Gordon Campbell, Premier
P.O. Box 9041, St'n. Prov. Gov't.
Victoria, B.C.
Canada V8W 9E1
Phone (250) 387-1715, or [email protected]
Ian Sutherland, Mayor
District of Squamish
P.O. Box 310
Squamish, B.C.
Canada V0N 3G0
Phone 1-877-892-5217, or [email protected]

Letters should be to Mr. Barisoff, with copies to the premier, the mayor of Squamish, and the Access Society (squamish(at)access-society.ca). A written letter counts for much more than an e-mail, and an e-mail for much more than a phone call. Be polite, constructive, and clear. You can also write letters to the editor:

Consultation Prcess

The gondola proponents must first consult with "key stakeholders" - the District of Squamish, the Squamish First Nation, the Ministry of Transportation, and the Vancouver Olympics Organizing Committee. (The climbing/hiking community is not considered a key stakeholder, but the Olympic committee is, although the gondola seems to have little to do with the Olympics.) If these consultations indicate that an amendment to the park plan should be considered, broad consultation with the community will follow. Those consultations would have to be "open and transparent". The government says "If those consultations demonstrate broad community support for a continuation of the park's management plan to restrict mechanized access on the Chief, then we would reflect those wishes".

At a meeting of the Squamish Council on September 28th 2004, the proponents put forth their plans and requested support from the District of Squamish. The District of Squamish rejected the proposal to build a gondola on the Chief, but left the door open for gondolas elsewhere, possibly in the Provincial Park. It also transpired during the meeting that the Squamish Nation had "closed the door to a gondola on the Chief". With a rejection of the proposal from the Squamish First Nation and the District of Squamish, it seems unlikely that a gondola could be built on the Chief. However, the proponents also expressed interest in an alternative route between Shannon Falls and the Chief, and since they have already secured 6.5 acres of land at the base of the Chief, this may be serious. Such a proposal would have to come back to the key stakeholders for approval.

Other resources

The Friends of the Chief website will soon be operational, at www.friendsofthechief.ca. It will include information about the proposal and its impacts, FAQs and myths about the proposal, responses to the claims on the proponent's website, and information about how to get involved.

The proponent's website is at www.stawamuschiefgondola.com. Many of the claims on it are debatable. The website includes an on-line feedback form. Its format seems less than neutral, but it may be worth filling it out anyway. Please print the form, complete it, and mail it to:

Stawamus Chief Management Plan Process
Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection
Lower Mainland Region
10470 - 152nd Street
Surrey, B.C.
Canada  V3R 0Y3

This takes a bit more effort, but may be more secure, and ensures that the form is received by a neutral party. It also allows you to fill in the feedback form as you wish - feel free to add comments, questions and criticisms. Keep a copy of your form, and send one to the Access Society. If you do send the feedback form electronically, we suggest that you save it, and send a copy to the Access Society by mail or to squamish(at)access-society.ca.

There may be other ways to participate in the gondola debate, including open houses and forums, later this autumn. We'll provide updates as and when we can, on the website and by e-mail. The Access Society's letter to the government about the gondola will be on the updated website.

Feedback Form Privacy Issue

The feedback form includes an inconspicuous but important sub-form, a link from "read our privacy statement". It isn't on the form itself, but says: "All feedback submitted becomes the property of Stawamus Chief Gondola Ltd. and the Government of British Columbia (Ministry of Water, Land & Air Protection). By submitting feedback, you are granting your permission to use your feedback from the website in any manner. By submitting your feedback, you are also granting Stawamus Chief Gondola Ltd. the right to use any information that you supply for demographic purposes. However, your contact information is kept strictly confidential and it won't be sold, rented or used by anyone other than Stawamus Chief Gondola Ltd. & the Government of British Columbia (Ministry of Water, Land & Air Protection). By choosing to be informed about updates you are granting Stawamus Chief Gondola Ltd. permission to email you in this manner and/or to notify you of possible problems with your entry or other contact that Stawamus Chief Gondola Ltd. deems necessary at our discretion." Your personal information can only be used in ways you consent to. If you submit the feedback form electronically, you are taken to have consented to the privacy statement. There's no way to modify it, or the feedback form. If you don't agree with any part of the privacy statement, or don't want to be bound by the design of the form, print them both out, complete the form, and mail them in together. Cross out and initial the parts of the privacy statement you don't consent to.