Squamish Canyon makes first appearance at council

The proposed major tourist attraction makes it past a preliminary review

A widely publicized proposal for a tourist attraction finally made it to council for an initial look.

On Nov. 26, councillors were presented with a review of Squamish Canyon, which seeks to create, among other things, 800 metres of boardwalk elevated off the forest floor and roughly 200 metres of canyon walkway.

Located down the Mamquam River Forest Service Road in the Powerhouse Springs area, the
second phase of the project would add two bridges over the canyon and more elevated boardwalks and lookout platforms.

During their committee of the whole, councillors gave it a positive review and referred it to a regular meeting at a future date where they will consider giving it a first and second reading.

"I think there's a lot of exciting things about this project," said Coun. Chris Pettingill. "I do have concerns about maintaining public access."

A trail network exists in the area, and, according to a staff report, access to mountain biking trails via the existing service road will not be affected. Some walking trails, however, will not be preserved.

Two important kayak access points are included in that area, and those users sent a petition to the municipality, said District planner Kerry Hamilton.

She said, as a result, the municipality facilitated talks with the Mamquam River Access Society and the BC Whitewater Society. Both accesses will be preserved and will be a condition of rezoning adoption, Hamilton added.

"I think the proponent has done a lot of work in reaching out to a diversity of stakeholders," said Coun. Jenna Stoner.

She added she wanted to see it go through the full approval process where more discussion could be had with the community.

Coun. Eric Andersen said he was supportive, but added a lot more work needed to be done to address the public's concerns about growth in the area.

A staff report estimates about 109,000 visitors will come to the attraction in its first year of operation.

While this meeting was only intended to give councillors a first look at the project, Squamish Canyon will later seek to rezone 10.5 hectares of land currently designated for residential and ecological reserve purposes.

Should the proponent, Robin Sherry, succeed in his proposal, the land will be changed to a comprehensive development zone, which allows for a mixture of uses based on a comprehensive plan.

 

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