John Baldwin’s letter to the editor (“B.C. Parks Plan for the Spearhead,” Pique Newsmagazine) articulated perfectly the reasons for removing heliskiing from the park, as well as the lack of reason for allowing it to continue. The only thing I can add is the fact that Whistler Heli Ski has had a couple of decades to prepare for this eventuality. There is no doubt that they would prefer to continue with the B.C. Parks entitlement but I’m quite sure that they have formulated a “Plan B” which will have no negative impact on their continued viability in providing local heli skiing opportunities.
On the other hand, ski tourers have actually lost available terrain over the last few years. The proliferation of sledding has effectively negated the ski touring experience everywhere except Garibaldi Park or the Duffey Lake area and only a very small proportion of Garibaldi Park is accessible without a multi-day expedition. I certainly don’t begrudge the sledders their needs, but the land should be shared or proportioned in an equitable manner, and the Spearhead Range represents a relatively unique opportunity for accessible ski touring unaffected by the noise and effect of mechanized mobs.
The draft management plan proposes that Heli skiing should be allowed to continue to ensure that heli skiing as a recreational option can continue to be provided locally. This is an entirely moot point and it is not the imperative of B.C. Parks to ensure that a private corporations’ preferred business model continues in obvious conflict with traditional park users. As John Baldwin pointed out, Whistler Heliskiing will continue just fine without using parkland, as so many other heli ski operators have demonstrated.