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Smoke Bluffs management plan completed

On 21st March Squamish council voted to adopt a new Management Plan for the Smoke Bluffs Park. Squamish Access Society took a lead role in the development of this plan over the last two years through its representation on the Smoke Bluffs Park Advisory Committee (“SBPAC”). SAS board member, Toby Foord-Kelcey, was chair of the committee throughout this period, while SAS vice-president Brian Moorhead and SAS board member Krissy MacKay were also members at large. Brian had previously served as chair of the committee over much of its ten year lifespan. The work involved included eighteen committee meetings, extensive on the ground research including GPS mapping and boundary survey work and advocacy for the plan at a lengthy council hearing in November 2016.

The stated objectives of the management plan are:

  • Outline broad policies and specific protocols that reflect the vision, goals, and strategic approaches developed with the Smoke Bluffs Park Advisory Committee over the years
  • Define roles and responsibilities for stakeholders in relation to management of the Smoke Bluffs Park
  • Establish protocols for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the Smoke Bluffs Park
  • Include prioritized lists of future capital and management improvements to the Smoke Bluffs Park, and a maintenance work plan, as an appendix to be updated on an annual basis

In plainer english:- Since its establishment in 2006 the Bluffs park has been developed and maintained almost entirely through volunteer effort actively guided by the SBPAC, with the District taking a relatively hands-off role aside from providing some funding. This was never expected to be a long-term situation. In 2015 a combination of factors – new management at the District of Squamish planning and infrastructure department and an acknowledgement by climbers that the park was mostly “finished” in terms of major cliff base clearance and the trail system – resulted in agreement that the SBPAC should step back to an (originally-envisaged) advisory role and the District step up to taking the lead on the park’s maintenance. The management plan wraps some specific principles and recommendations around that change. From a climbers’ perspective, the most important thing to know is that the park continues to have rock climbing as its primary usage and that practices essential to maintaining the park for climbing like vegetation management, fixed anchor maintenance and new route development are officially accepted.

Other important issues that were resolved within the plan include filming policies, BC Hydro’s responsibilities on their easement, which crosses the park, and the scope of other recreational groups’ usage of the park. Surprisingly some of these seemingly-peripheral issues took up much more of the time required to complete the plan than core climbing-related issues.

SAS would like to thank Matt Gunn and Elaine Naisby within the District’s planning department for their effective and patient participation in the development of the plan, and, within the SBPAC, Helen Hapgood, Laura Modray and Wes Staven for their help and support.

The plan can be viewed here.

Expansion of the Smoke Bluffs parking lot is listed in the plan as the highest priority capital project. In fact that work was completed in February this year, following work on the stream conduit at the Loggers Lane entrance in summer 2016. Parking capacity has been approximately doubled by the expansion.

 

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