It was all things Howe Sound recently to focus on the body of water named after Admiral Earl Howe as stakeholders gaterhed for a forum on the region.
The celebrated British military man died in 1799 but his legacy has lived on in the triangular fjord roughly bounded by Horseshoe Bay, Squamish and Gibsons and it was this area that was recently the topic of discussion at a daylong meeting of more than 140 people.
The Future of Howe Sound Society (FHSS) brought community, business and non-profit sector leaders together on April 13 at the Gleneagles Golf Club for the Future of Howe Sound Forum. The objective of the forum was to hold a dialogue on a common vision for Howe Sound.
Ruth Simons, the executive director of the FHSS, said 65 organizations were represented at the event and her expectations were far exceeded. The organizations represented included the film industry, tourism, forestry, mining, the marine industry, the arts, conservation interests, marine sciences, youth camps, education and recreation.
"The common feedback we got overall was how wonderful it was to have so many people from so many backgrounds in one room together," said Simons, days after the event, as she continued her work to summarize and document the events of the day.
Whistler councillor Jayson Faulkner was one of the elected officials who attended the forum.
Faulkner said after the forum that Howe Sound has played a role in the success of regional tourism and the body of water needs to be maintained.
He noted that while Whistler isn't located on Howe Sound it is situated in the critical upland region and within the watershed that feeds into the fjord. "Whistler needs to have a place at this table and they very much want us," said Faulkner.
"I grew up in Howe Sound so I have a deep personal connection to it," said the Whistler councillor.
Faulkner supports the creation of a comprehensive plan for the body of water because at this point there isn't one.
According to Faulkner, some early work on a lobby for the creation of Howe Sound National Park has taken place. He described what he has seen of the proposal as "cool" and suggested it would be great to have a national park in the Sea to Sky region.
Simons said one common theme from the participants at the forum was a desire to keep talking. There will be more discussion, she said, as a Howe Sound Community Forum (HSCF) of elected officials is planned for September. The HSCF was created in 2002 and led to the creation of the Howe Sound Community Forum Principles for Cooperation, a document agreed to by 11 parties including regional districts, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Village of Pemberton, municipalities on the Sound and the Squamish First Nation. The 2002 document commits the communities to work together on planning issues that impact Howe Sound.
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