(Thanks to Toby Foord-Kelcey of the Squamish Access Society for providing 99.9% of the information below.)
Please help us welcome the Squamish Access Society (SAS), our first Associate Member!
(And what is an Associate Member, you ask? An Associate Membership is open to any non-profit organization which would like to join the FMCBC for reasons of common interest. You can read more about Associate Membership, as well as Club Membership and Individual Membership, on our website.)
But back to the Squamish Access Society…
As many of you know, a strategic land parcel within the Smoke Bluffs park is owned by the FMCBC on behalf of climbers. The SAS felt it important to add their voice to how that asset is managed in the long term. And, more broadly, many of their local access issues can only really be solved at a provincial level—a level of advocacy the FMCBC is experienced with and quite effective at—which is why they’re looking to support and engage with the FMCBC.
A little bit of history
The SAS can trace its roots back to the 1980s (read more about that here), but was established in 2004 as a local group advocating for Squamish climbing access. They became a registered Society in 2006 and currently have about 500 members.
Their core activities span three categories:
- Advocacy with land managers, being the municipality, local Ministry of FLNRO office and local BC Parks office. We have two board members working on each of these relationships.
- Physical infrastructure (trail building and anchor replacement)
- Community engagement (Cragkeepers and Golden Scrub Brush Awards)
In the past few years, they’ve become more professional in their advocacy and more clear about their long-term objectives. Correspondingly, their counter-parties have also become more formal in the way they work. For example, over the last twelve months they had to negotiate and sign a detailed volunteer agreement with BC Parks in order to continue their work with the Chief, Shannon Falls and Murrin parks and similarly draft a management plan for the Smoke Bluffs with the municipality.
As well, bouldering has become increasingly popular in Squamish so they have increased the number of board members involved in that activity. The community engagement initiatives mentioned above—Cragkeepers and the Golden Scrub Brush Awards—were introduced within the last five years.
Their most visible accomplishments are the major “loop” trails completed in the Smoke Bluffs and Murrin Park. Both required years of work and involvement from many people but primary leadership came from SAS’s long-standing board director, Brian Moorhead. Less visibly but perhaps more important: their anchor replacement program is in its 9th year.
A lot of the SAS’s work is routine and ongoing in nature. However, one issue of increasing concern is the lack of parking and camping capacity close to the major cliffs coupled with ever-growing visitor numbers. This has lead to more wild camping in unapproved areas, often causing environmental damage and upsetting residents. The solution lies in more low-cost camping provision and transit to climbing areas, probably also coupled with more thorough enforcement of camping bans for sensitive areas.
The SAS has also stepped up their efforts to persuade the various government agencies to work proactively on this issue while trying to improve information to visitors on camping options. They’re working with FLNRO on a number of new campground projects.
Related to this, climbers have been complacent in recent years about the sport’s public image, and some other outdoor recreation activities have come to be regarded as more important economically to the town. For the long-term, it is important for that misconception to be addressed.
Want to know more about the Squamish Access Society?