The Squamish Access Society can trace its roots back over 20 years to the founding of the Squamish Rockclimbers Association. That group was formed in 1985 by Kevin McLane and John Howe, both of whom are still active with today’s SAS. The focus of effort at that time was to try and achieve park status for the Smoke Bluffs, and to raise awareness with the Ministry of Transportation over the vulnerability of the climbs in the Murrin Park canyon.
By the early 1990s it had become evident that the District of Squamish was not interested in a Smoke Bluffs Park, so with Perry Beckham, attention was turned to lobbying BC Parks to establish the Chief as a Class A Provincial Park. The effort finally proved successful in 1995, and it was clearly expressed by the province that the support and dedication of Squamish climbers had been a crucial factor in their decision.The years that followed were a time of change. In 1996 the Squamish Rockclimbers Association began to direct its effort to managing the Chief campground under contract with BC Parks, and the Climbers Access Society of BC was founded by Anders Ourom, with Kevin McLane, to create a provincial-level organization for climbers. The SRA’s focus on the Chief campground soon resulted in a steady decline of involvement in advocacy, and as a result CASBC came to fill the void in the years that followed. In 2005 new management policies from BC Parks brought to an end the SRA’s tenure as Chief campground managers, and the organization folded.
By 2002-2003 two events provoked notable change to the manner in which Squamish climbers defended their interests. The first was the Squamish Municipal election of 2002 which ushered in a progressive local government. Direct lobbying from Kevin McLane, Perry Beckham and John Howe to the Mayor of Squamish brought a commitment of significant resources to establish Smoke Bluffs Park—a process that is nearing completion. The second event was the province’s decision to embark on a massive upgrade to Highway 99, widening most of it to 4 lanes, and bringing major change to roadside crags and boulders, and access to them, along Highway 99.
Presentations to the Ministry of Transportation in 2003 led to climbers being invited to serve on its Highway 99 Recreation Focus Group to examine in detail impacts along the highway and determine solutions. By 2004, the District of Squamish’s multi-stakeholder Smoke Bluffs Park Planning Group was well underway and a new Squamish-based group developed to complement the provincial focus of CASBC. The Squamish Access Society was established in 2004 by Tyrone Brett, Kevin McLane and John Howe, with help from others, as a grassroots local voice for Squamish advocacy. The SAS became a registered Society in 2006.