For the past month I have been taking pictures of the Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls. They form the iconic view that I call Squamish. They are both visible from most locations between Murrin Park and the Tantalus Lookout.
Together, the Chief and the falls mean Squamish. I want to remember them the way they are now, not after a swath the width of a hockey rink is cut between them for†the Emperorís New Clothesline.
Is there only one viable location for this carnival ride? Does the success of this project depend on tearing a strip out of the forest between the Chief and the falls? Isnít destroying the view to attract tourists a bit like killing the goose that lays golden eggs?
The developers claim that this project is modeled after a similar ride in Banff. Banff was created in 1885 for the sole purpose of attracting tourists. They see over six times as many tourists each year as Squamish. On the other hand, Squamish sees about six times more rain each year than Banff. Perhaps our lack of tourists will be made up by our abundance of rain.
The developers claim a projected total of 300,000 people per year. Based on a season of 100 days per year, that is an average of 3,000 people per day. Weekends will probably be busier than weekdays and even in our glorious summer, there might be a few rainy, foggy, windy or cloudy days that wonít be busy.
Can we expect to see 5,000 to 8,000 people per day experiencing the wilderness from a ledge behind the Chief? Is Stawamus Chief Provincial Park prepared for the equivalent of a GranFondo every Saturday and Sunday? Is the mountain prepared for thousands of visitors all at the same time?†Is the highway prepared for that many people?
If these are people who might otherwise have gone to the Chief or the falls, will our provincial parks get less funding? Is it realistic to think that thousands of people per day are going to stand in line to take a ride in Squamish when there are bigger and better rides in Whistler and North Vancouver?
Many people seem to have a much-romanticized notion of visiting the mountaintop on a gloriously clear day with only their elderly, handicapped grandmother. For this to work, there need to be thousands of people up there every day. For this to work, a swath needs to be cleared through the provincial park that will forever separate the Chief and the falls.
Surely, if it really is a good idea, it would work somewhere else.