Sea to Sky Trail developments around Pemberton coming this year

Connection from Nairn Falls to Mount Currie identified

More development around Pemberton and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) Electoral Area C is scheduled for 2011 on the Sea to Sky Trail, which saw lots of progress on its southern portions in the past year.

Project Manager Gordon McKeever gave an update on the trail to the SLRD board on Monday (Feb. 28) and to Village of Pemberton Council Tuesday (March 1) and said a route from Nairn Falls Provincial Park to One Mile Lake has been identified for development in the coming year.

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"We're looking to make that connection complete by the end of 2011," McKeever told The Question on Tuesday.

The ongoing project aims to complete a non-motorized trail connecting Squamish in the south to D'Arcy in the north.

Since the majority of trail construction has taken place on southern sections thus far, Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said he's pleased that some of the northern route be completed in the near future.

"I certainly have understood why the focus has been on the southern section using that trail as a designation of the Trans-Canada Trail and as part of the (Olympic) torch route," said Sturdy. "It's nice to see that there (will be) a focus on the northern part of the trail."

McKeever was also pleased to tell SLRD board members Monday that both the Lil'wat and Squamish nations are in full support of the project going forward.

"For them to support the project is critical," said McKeever. "Any development associated with Crown land requires consultation and essentially support of the First Nations."

As part of the First Nations involvement with the trail, interpretive signage will start to go up along sections between Squamish and Whistler this spring that acknowledges the traditional territories of the two nations.

"We want to celebrate the First Nations through interpretive signage similar to the Cultural Journey" along Highway 99, said McKeever. "We'll be working with them and it's an important part of the whole program."

Sixteen locations have been picked out for signage and McKeever's report to local government officials said funding is in place for more along the northern sections of the trail in the future.

Somewhat of an Olympic legacy will also be seen on the trail via signage, as several concrete bases that were originally used by VANOC will be used on more remote trailhead markers.

McKeever had lots of progress to report from the past year, as major sections of the trail between Squamish and Whistler were completed.

"Twenty-ten was a really good year," said McKeever, who showed a handful of dramatic before-and-after photos of work done in the Cheakamus Canyon.

The canyon provided some challenges for developers due to its difficult terrain and isolated location on an abandoned, century-old road.

"It was a rough road to build 100 years ago; really hard. That's wicked landscape," said McKeever. "Once the highway was developed 50 years ago or so, it fell into disuse and a lack of maintenance. It was half-a-century unmaintained, and for those that (saw it) a year ago, they know it was pretty rough. Now, it's a whole lot better."

McKeever said more details about what sections of the trail are complete will be posted under the 'Ready to Ride' section of the project website, located at www.seatoskytrail.ca.

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