NATIONAL CLIMBERS ACCESS INITIATIVE
For historic interest, below are notes about SAS’s involvement in the National Climbers Access Initiative (which has since stalled).
As access to climbing areas has become a common issue across the country, the question arises whether the time is ripe for a national climbers’ access awareness group. After a series of informal meetings in the summer of 2007 between Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) staff and Gripped magazine, the concept of a Canadian national climbing access body was developed. What followed were a series of initial meetings and conferences calls among a cross-section of various local, regional and provincial access groups. These discussions canvassed the needs, parameters and possible mandates of such a national group. It was clear from the outset that a national access coalition would not supplant the existing local, regional and provincial access associations that were already successful; but would act as a centralized resources base for existing access information, and provide a larger, more unified lobbying voice for climbing access across the country.
Among the individuals and groups invited initially were Jamie McVicar, chair of the Climbers Access Society of Alberta, Anders Ourom, executive director of the Climbers’ Access Committee of British Columbia, Tyrone Brett, president of the Squamish Access Society, Harry Hoediono, chair of the Ontario Access Coalition and Steve Castonquay, director of the Fédération Québécoise de la Montagne et de l’Escalade. The editors of Gripped Magazine Sam Cohen and David Chaundy-Smart, along with representatives Laurie Edward and Erin Melnychuk of the Mountain Equipment Co-Op and D’Arcy Bloom of Blurr, were hosts of the initial group meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia in July of 2007.
Although meetings were initially informal, a working governance structure was quickly developed and Jamie McVicar agreed to chair the fledgling group. Funding for a three year trial project was obtained from the MEC based on an interim budget and a list of goals and preliminary organizational projects were developed. Among the short term goals was determining the mandate and structure of the “National Climbers’ Access Initiative” and then to establish a more formal governance structure. With MEC’s funding in hand, operational mechanisms were developed to identify the various access groups and their structures in Canada, undertake a needs assessment with those groups for a national access body such as the NCAI and, concurrently, develop and produce two pilot projects:
- a national resource centre of existing access information which would be a collection of data from existing groups, and
- a website which would allow the sharing of information Canada wide of all the access organizations.
Like all new organizations, the NCAI’s mandate was fluid and being developed as the initiative began to take shape. It is the hope of the organization that access groups from across the country will readily participate and provide needed input into the national organization, at first through the upcoming “needs analysis” undertaken through a series of local, regional and provincial conferences of “Access Awareness”, ultimately culminating in an annual symposium on access. Such an undertaking of this magnitude will require the combined voluntary effort of the entire climbing community. As access issues around the country become more acute, we are convinced that local climbers should unite on understanding that access is now a Canada-wide issue and that local activism can be enhanced by a strong and unified national voice.