Introduction

The FMCBC is inviting member clubs and other climbing organizations to provide comments on a proposal from the District of Squamish to incorporate the land owned by the FMCBC into a large, formally dedicated Smoke Bluffs park. The District of Squamish has requested the transfer of the FMCBC land to complete the creation of the climbing park.

Background

In 1987, with the long-term goal of establishing a climbing park, the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC acquired three privately held parcels of land (the “FMC lands”), located adjacent to the climbing crags known as the Smoke Bluffs, in Squamish, BC (see map insert). As eloquently stated by Jim Rutter, the FMCBC Executive Director at the time, “The insanity of the FMCBC getting into real estate was outweighed by the possibility of creating North America’s first climbing park” (Cloudburst, Spring 1987, p. 3). The goal was to combine the 3.5 hectares owned by the FMCBC with the 20 hectares of cliffs owned by the District of Squamish to establish a climbing park, thereby protecting the crags for climbing and climbers’ access to the crags.

Over the years, the FMCBC and the District have engaged in discussions to establish terms for the potential transfer of the FMC lands to further the development of the climbing park. While the transfer has not occurred, multiple steps have been taken by the District towards establishment of the Smoke Bluffs Park. In 2017 the Squamish District Council adopted the Smoke Bluffs Management Plan, which recommends numerous action items to advance the development of the Smoke Bluffs Park, including finalizing transfer of the FMC lands to the District for incorporation into the park. The District has also zoned the District lands that include the majority of the crags as “Park, Recreational, and Institutional Use (P-3)”.

2020 New Land Acquired

In 2020, the District acquired the former Drenka Lands, which include climbing crags and a new trail along Mamquam Blind Channel.

You can open the PDF to view a larger map.

The map shows the lands (pink) owned by the FMCBC, the District land (green with yellow border) currently zoned as park but not formally dedicated as park; and, the Drenka land (blue) purchased in 2020 for park purposes. Many of the access trails are zoned as roads and would need to be incorporated into the park.

Proposal for Larger Park

In 2020, the District approached the FMCBC with a proposal to establish the Smoke Bluffs Park by rezoning to a more park-like zoning some of the lands currently used for climbing but zoned for other uses (e.g., resource or industrial) and by dedicating all of the lands as park through a district park dedication by-law. Once dedicated by by-law, electoral approval (not simply a Council decision) would be required to dispose of the parklands or to repeal the park dedication by-law. The District plans to introduce the park dedication by-law and complete the rezoning in 2021. Should the FMC lands be included within the formal park dedication, the District would require transfer of the FMC lands to the District.

Mandate of FMCBC’s Smoke Bluffs Committee

 To assist the FMCBC Board of Directors in its consideration of the proposal, the Board has provided a mandate to a committee to meet with District staff to discuss the framework for a potential transfer of the FMC lands for inclusion in a formally dedicated park and to make recommendations to the Board about the proposal. Given that the long-term objective has always been to protect the crags for climbing and to ensure climbers’ access to the crags, one of the issues to be investigated and considered by the Committee is whether establishment of the Park by bylaw would provide greater protection against future repurposing. The committee’s mandate is:

  1. To meet with representatives of the District of Squamish to review the District’s proposal and the four-step process contemplated by the District
  2. To evaluate the District’s proposal with respect to the long-standing objectives of the FMC Lands, including but not limited to consideration of the following:
  3. Value of the FMC Lands
  4. Alternate transfer options, including but not limited to, sale or donation of the FMC Lands as a whole or in part to the District of Squamish to safeguard climbers’ access
  5. Mechanisms to ensure long-term protection of the crags and climbers’ access, including but not limited to rezoning, restrictive covenants and option to purchase
  6. Nature and timing of any legal advice required to evaluate the proposal or protective mechanisms and estimated legal fees
  7. Nature and timing of required consultations with the climbing community about a proposed disposition of the FMC Lands to the District of Squamish
  8. To consider the use, reservations or restrictions on the use of any proceeds from the FMC Lands
  9. To make recommendations to the FMCBC Board on the District’s proposal, including acceptance, rejection or negotiations to be undertaken with the District. If further negotiations are recommended, the parameters for such negotiations.
  10. To make recommendations to the FMCBC Board regarding successor organization(s) to hold the FMC Lands in trust for the benefit of the greater climbing community should the FMCBC retain ownership of the FMC Lands
  11. To report to the FMCBC Board on the Committee’s progress on a quarterly basis, unless developments warrant more frequent reporting.

Planned Consultations

In December 2020, the FMCBC Board approved the Committee’s request to meet with interested clubs and organizations to review the District’s proposal. The consultations with the climbing community will help ensure that the Committee considers the implications of a potential transfer of the FMC lands to the District for inclusion in the climbing park, before making recommendations to the FMCBC Board. During the consultations, the Committee will also invite feedback on the use or restrictions on potential proceeds from a transfer of the FMC lands, as well as potential successor organization(s) should the FMCBC retain ownership of the lands.

Invitation to clubs and organizations

If a FMCBC member club or interested climbing organization would like to meet with the Committee to review and discuss the options that the FMCBC should consider please contact Jay MacArthur at jay.macarthur@ACCvancouver.ca  Jay is on the FMCBC Smoke Bluffs committee and will be helping to organize the meetings.

Members of the FMCBC Smoke Bluffs Committee

  • Ken Orr, FMCBC President
  • Barry Janyk, FMCBC Executive Director
  • Sherry Durnford, FMCBC Treasurer
  • Jay MacArthur, ACC-Vancouver representative
  • Monika Bittel, Individual Member