I'd just like to offer a reminder that the deadline for comment on the Draft Garibaldi Park management plan is today (Jan. 10).
Like it or not, it appears that this is the only forum for public input into the decision process. In regard to the issue of continued heli-skiing, other than myself and John Baldwin, there has been a distinct lack of comment other than those with a corporate self interest. I know for a fact that there are many in the valley who are opposed yet remain silent to protect their relationship with Whistler Blackcomb or Whistler Heli-skiing, usually in the capacity of employment or business relations. I completely understand this imperative and for that reason I hope everyone uses the opportunity provided by BC Parks to influence the decision process.
Much of the issue has been discussed already but it can be best be summarized as quoted from the draft park plan: "Based on the public comments submitted via the questionnaire, 68 per cent of respondents are not in favour of heli-skiing continuing in the park."
Yet for some inexplicable reason the plan proposes to continue allowing it to occur, offering only the vague rationale that to not do so would mean local heli-skiing opportunities would suffer to the point of viability. Aside from the fact that this observation can be disproven by simply looking around at all the non-park operators, no one from Whistler Heli-skiing, Whistler Blackcomb or BC Parks has presented a remotely compelling case to back up this assertion. Surely BC Parks doesn’t simply take their word for it over a coffee and hand shake? We would expect them to share the details, yet with such a deafening silence I suppose the "public" is expected to be content with wondering how the "stakeholders" conversation went behind closed doors. Funny choice of words that BC Parks used. Isn't the public the biggest stakeholder of them all when it comes to such a public asset? I'm sorry, was that a no?
The parkland adjacent to the ski hills is an increasingly rare commodity and is uniquely suited as ski touring terrain that requires only a day. Nowhere else in the whole of southwest B.C. can one easily gain so much elevation to first class wilderness mountain terrain for a single day of effort. I repeat — nowhere else. Most everything else is either an overnight expedition, over run by sledders, or is poorer quality. Constant helicopter traffic has always been anathema to wilderness and is incompatible with the BC Parks experience. Whistler Heli-skiing holds an enormous amount of Crown land tenure where it can conduct its business.
I don't expect a change of heart from the corporation — they are just serving their shareholders and $1,000-a-day guests as one would expect. I certainly don't blame the local BC Parks staff that know the score. I point a finger at Victoria. Just another of a long list of reasons to boot out the Liberals.
For public comment go to: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/planning/mgmtplns/garibaldi/garibaldi_mp_amend_comments.html