Urgent access issue in Squamish: email support needed


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Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 16, 2017 - 05:38pm PT
This will be mostly relevant to people who have climbed in Squamish in the last 2-3 years but all help is welcome. Squamish is becoming more popular every year and starting to suffer acute problems with parts of its infrastructure, especially parking. The three major parking spots for climbers - the Smoke Bluffs, the Chief and Murrin- are all getting full by mid-morning, or earlier, in season, and there are few alternatives. The situation has been exacerbated by a new tourist attraction - the Sea to Sky gondola next to the Chief - which hasn't arranged enough parking capacity for itself and is overflowing to other car parks, one of which will be closed in 2017 for an industrial use. Also the provincial park rangers have begun aggressively targeting any illegally parked cars at the Chief and Murrin car parks, with the reasonable argument that they have to ensure access for emergency vehicles.

With this issue so prominent, you would think that the Squamish town council would be looking for solutions, like a shuttle bus service coupled with a park-and-ride location similar to Yosemite or Zion. However, unbelievably, they are instead about to lease space at one of the few well-situated car parks with any spare capacity so that a local businessman can set up a "ropes course" tower to pull in the kind of tourists who normally carry on driving to Whistler. This is at the Squamish Adventure Centre, by the main highway on the southern (Chief) edge of town, which was originally built ten years ago as a meeting spot and information hub for visiting climbers and other outdoor recreation users; and has been very successful in that role.

Both the local climbers' access group, Squamish Access Society, and the regional Climbers Access Society of BC oppose this development. The final public hearing at council is at 6pm on 17th January. Even at this late stage, it could make the difference for council to receive opinion from overseas fans of Squamish climbing, so we encourage anyone with the time and inclination to send an email. Use the address council@squamish.ca , use a clear subject title like "NO to Kristall Turm ropes course at the Squamish adventure centre" and note prominently that you are writing from the US (or wherever else).

There is more detail on the issue here at the Squamish Climbing Magazine blog - most recent post first:




Disclosure: I am a board member of Squamish Access Society.

Thanks for reading, Toby


Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jan 16, 2017 - 05:44pm PT
Thesiger, awesome handle! Is that referring to who I think it is?

Topic Author's Reply - Jan 16, 2017 - 05:57pm PT
Yeah, Sir Wilfred ... I started posting here when I was an expat in a sandy arab country. I should probably change it now that I live in the PNW.

Topic Author's Reply - Jan 16, 2017 - 06:20pm PT
The District of Squamish's own rather Orwellian analysis is here: https://squamish.civicweb.net/FileStorage/CE8835721D5B4D8CA520BBC7FA7E3986-RTC_KristallTurm_0117.pdf

The issue of how much space this business proposal actually requires hasn't really been examined properly in our opinion. The business will provide some parking on the space they lease as well as the actual steel tower. But if it is successful then it is inevitable that visitors that park primarily to use or queue for the ropes course will fill much of the rest of the parking lot. I tried to keep the OP reasonably brief and not try to cover all the angles, but we also look at it as a fairly simple abuse of public land. The district set the land aside originally as part of a strategy to serve outdoor recreation and we feel they should stick with it. (The town just paid dearly for a hip new brand: "Hardwired for Adventure")

Another topic is why the hell we need a ropes course on a free standing steel tower when we are surrounded by endless forest?
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Jan 16, 2017 - 06:40pm PT
Its become hard to recognize Squamish, but that's the price of preserving values in a changing world.

When did convenient parking trouble equal access problems ? These are two separate and distinct issues.

The Outdoor Centre has always been a tourist venue from it's inception.

Topic Author's Reply - Jan 16, 2017 - 07:46pm PT
All our arguments to council have been non-specific regarding the type of business; we simply want that land parcel preserved for transit/ car-pool/ park-and-ride etc. The ropes course is welcome in some other part of town, ideally paying a market value rent on private land.

Topic Author's Reply - Jan 16, 2017 - 07:50pm PT
Jim. as I wrote the access groups here regard it as an access issue. Several of us have been working hard on this for days, so if you don't feel able to help, at least spare us the criticism.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jan 16, 2017 - 07:50pm PT
I started posting here when I was an expat in a sandy arab country.

Ha ha, of course! I spent some time in a few spots over there myself. Keep the handle, he was the best!
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Jan 16, 2017 - 08:22pm PT

If you can't separate universal access to the great climbing of Squamish from what are vehicular traffic frustrations, you're doomed to shake your fist at the fact that Squamish is right in the middle of the tourist highway between Vancouver and Whistler.

The Adventure Centre is an amenity to promote tourism for Squamish and not a tax funded hang for climbers. Parking has always been a problem for all lovers of everything good along Howe Sound.

I wish we could tear up the rock staircase that used to be the Backside Trail but that horse left the barn a long time ago.

Topic Author's Reply - Jan 16, 2017 - 08:49pm PT
I don't agree with you, Jim. In my modest eleven year acquaintance with the corridor, things have got disproportionately bad in the last two years. And the old farts in SAS, some of whom have been knocking around for even longer than you, have the same opinion. We think this specific issue is worth contesting, and we also think it is worthwhile to push the municipality toward longer term solutions like some kind of shuttle bus.

Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Jan 16, 2017 - 09:00pm PT
Well, I agree with what you just posted but I don't agree that a small town municipality owes anything to rock climbers, specifically.

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
Jan 16, 2017 - 09:27pm PT
I cannot speak to the lack of parking a the sea to sky gondola, but I do have a opposing opinion to the district catering to rock climbers over other recreational enthusiasts(Ropes course recreators etc.)

Its seems rather counterproductive for both the district and the climbers to opt out of an income generating land lease in favor of offering more free parking to climbers...

Which would just result in more climbers at the crags.. so instead of not climbing in the bluffs because there isn't any parking you're not climbing because its so ridiculously over run with climbers thanks to ample parking...

Seems like a lose lose to me.

Especially with the ever growing trend of climbers aspiring to be 'dirtbags' who seem to thrive on thrift.

Where as most other recreation enthusiasts (Mtn bikers, kite-boarders, gondola tourists) seem to come to town and put money into local business' (hotels, restaurants, etc.)

As a Sea-to-Sky resident, Im personally in favor of the Squamish district generating revenue through land leases and tourist attractions in order to fund local amenities for myself and my family and other contributors of society..

That's my two cents,

Social climber
Jan 17, 2017 - 12:35am PT
Well, who'd a'thunk?

There was a time, long long ago, when you could tell who was climbing at Squish by the sound of their voice, the colour of their shirt, or the cars on the road. If there were any other climbers or cars.

I don't know enough about the issues here to have an opinion. I'm not even sure what a ropes course is. However I am leery about the proliferation of courses these days. What's next? A course on "How to Take a Course"?

More parking may well be a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Jan 17, 2017 - 05:42am PT
So people would have to drive into town then take a bus back?

Jan 17, 2017 - 07:34am PT
Anyone want to park their van in front of my house for $500 a month?

The fat part of the bell-curve
Jan 17, 2017 - 10:56am PT
Especially with the ever growing trend of climbers aspiring to be 'dirtbags' who seem to thrive on thrift

FYI, dirtbagging has been around as long as climbing has. In fact the trend is the other way, well-financed yuppies clogging up the crags. There was a time when part of the appeal of climbing was its anti-establishment vibe. Now the "hyper-achievers" have taken over.

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
Jan 17, 2017 - 12:18pm PT
Yo Chill thanks for the heads up bro, a quick lesson in climbing history.

By growing trend I mean that the presence of self-proclaimed dirtbags is exponentially increasing in Squamish at least and most likely. From my point of view a lot of them dirtbagging for the sake of indentifying as a dirtbag.

Maybe my perspective is a skew, or maybe I'm not even entitled to an opinion.

But expecting the district to cater to climbers wants with out offering anything in return is no different than the bums in the city standing with their hands out expecting some of my hard earned change.

Perhaps if the SAS and CASBC were proposing to buy or lease land with moneys acquired through charitable donation or fundraising I would have a different opinion.

Am I missing something? Are the access society's offering compensation?


A long way from where I started
Jan 17, 2017 - 07:05pm PT
Q: What is the fundamental law of the universe?

A: The law of unintended consequences.

Trad climber
Jan 18, 2017 - 01:59pm PT
Hey Luke, just wanting to clarify what your definition of dirtbag is? Is it someone who just lives in their vehicle (or tent or under a rock) with no income and no real prospects? Or anyone who lives in a vehicle for the purpose of not paying rent?
I only ask as someone who now lives in a vehicle (mostly) full time, but was still working ~50 hours a week in North Van. I hope to stay in Squamish this summer, and either work full time there or commute if I have to, but I don't want to be stepping on anyone's toes if just the fact that I don't contribute via monthly payments makes me undesirable.

Edit: Sorry if that comes across as snippy, but I've only ever heard people complain about vanlifers taking up Chief parking for months on end, and I was more just wondering what the opinion is on people who live "thrifty" for the purposes of one day owning a home, and having a family, etc. Things I want, but at the rate I was going in my apartment in North Van, I'd be lucky if I could afford a down payment by the time I was 50. The bus just allows me to save so that one day in the near future, I can afford the nice things.

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
Jan 18, 2017 - 08:53pm PT

I do not have a definition of "Dirtbag" and I certainly don't have any problem with people just because they choose to live that lifestyle, in fact most of the time I envy them.

I just think it is a ridiculous idea to expect the district to fork over valuable land for nothing.

And the way that SAS pitched the idea to the community as an "Urgent access issue" is asinine.

All the power to those who can make vanlife work, for what ever their reasons for doing so may be.

I think I was just rubbed the wrong way by the "holier than thou" vibe in argument opposing the idea of a ropes course.

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