The Singing Pass Trail in summer. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Trails.

The FMCBC has submitted a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations requesting improved public access to the Singing Pass Trail in Garibaldi Provincial Park. This follows another that was sent to (and responded by) Land Officer Tori Meeks last fall.

The most recent letter outlines some of the history of the Garibaldi/Whistler/Blackcomb area that has been uncovered by members of the FMCBC’s Recreation and Conservation Committee in the intervening months. They found that between 1970 and 2003, approximately 1,350 hectares of public park land were transferred from Garibaldi Provincial Park to Whistler Mountain, and an additional 1,700 hectares to Backcomb Mountain. These land transfers have resulted in public access to the Spearhead range part of Garibaldi Park becoming severely restricted.

In the case of the Singing Pass Trail, the old mining road that had been used for hikers for many years to drive to the trailhead 5 kilometres above Whistler was blocked by a landslide and subsequently the establishment of a mountain bike park. Consequently, hikers wanting to access the Singing Pass Trail were forced to walk the distance on a poorly-maintained trail from Whistler Village, increasing the total round trip to 26 kilometres to Singing Pass, or 32 kilometres to Russet Lake. The FMCBC argued in its letter that “While the bridge and connection to the existing trail would resolve the access from the IPP to the trailhead, lack of driving access to the IPP is not satisfactory.”

The letter also responds to some of the solutions proposed by Tori Meeks in her October letter, including the possibility of a pay-for-service shuttle to the trailhead, discounted summer hiking seasons passes for FMCBC and ACC members, and earlier access to lifts.

Overall, the FMCBC feels that hikers have not been adequately involved in the majority of the discussions regarding park access and have been given limited opportunity to put forward ideas. Given that many of our members have unique perspectives and experiences in the area going back to the 1960s and 1970s, this is especially frustrating. As the letter says, “It appears that although Garibaldi Provincial Park was created for the benefit of everyone, the interests of commercial recreation tenure holders are being given precedence over public access to the park.”

The entire letter can be read here. We will post the response when we receive one.