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Will the resignation of FMCBC executive director impact Squamish Smoke Bluffs sale?

Barry Janyk is stepping down from his position with the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC due to budget restraints.

Amid a shortage of funds, the executive director of the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC is stepping down. The club says this will not affect the ongoing negotiations regarding the Smoke Bluffs lands.

After working with the club for four years, Barry Janyk left the association on Feb. 22. The club says the elimination of his position is intended to be a temporary, necessary measure to save money.

Janyk's departure comes at a time when the federation is negotiating a possible land transfer to the District of Squamish.

In the 1980s, the federation bought several parcels in the bluffs in order to ward off developers and guarantee access to climbers. It has held them ever since. The District is seeking to acquire those lands, saying its intention is to preserve recreational activities in the area.

However, some have expressed worry that if the parcels become municipal property, it creates the possibility that the land may be rezoned or sold for non-recreational purposes by a future council who may not be so amenable to climbers and other users.

Liz Bicknell, the vice president of the FMCBC, told The Chief the executive director's departure will not change the nature of negotiations for the Smoke Bluffs.

"Protection of climbers' interest remains our priority," Bicknell said in a written statement.

 "The federation's long-term objectives for Smoke Bluffs Park remain unchanged: ensure rock climbing remains the primary activity within the park and that climbers' access to the crags is protected. The federation is currently consulting with member clubs and climbing organizations about the District's plans for the park. The federation will continue to be guided by those long-term objectives in any discussions with the District about future plans for the park."

Bicknell said the position was temporarily eliminated as a result of financial challenges.

"For the past four years, FMCBC has run deficits which can no longer be sustained. Directors have a fiduciary responsibility to the federation and its members to ensure FMCBC remains in the black," Bicknell wrote in an emailed statement.

"The difficult decision to temporarily eliminate the executive director position was made to start the process of getting our financial house in order and the FMCBC finances back on track. This was not an easy decision but was a necessary one in order to fulfil our responsibilities as directors."

Bicknell cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a contributing factor.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone but especially hard on member clubs who are reporting a substantial drop in membership which impacts our budget. We hope that this is again a temporary situation," she continued.

"The impact of declining membership may be augmented by potentially higher insurance premiums and deductibles, a current, demonstrated trend of the insurance industry. We consider the decision to eliminate the executive director position to be a temporary solution and as budgets are built on hard facts and figures we believe it to be the right one."