Sea to Sky Trail Society re-applies for status
One man committee dumps in ‘tonnes’ of gravel at Doris Burma trailhead
By Paul Andrew
Squamish resident Ross Kirkwood said last week he continues to work on the Sea to Sky Trail despite the fact that the society created to make the trail a reality no longer exists.
Unless of course one man constitutes a society.
Just days away from the fourth annual Sea to Sky Trail Ride, Kirkwood said he single handedly wheelbarrowed some 17 tonnes of gravel into an area called the Doris Burma trail, which begins near the salt sheds on the west side of Highway 99, between Squamish and Whistler.
Kirkwood doesn’t get paid for it. And other than funds donated last year by Robbin McKinney, who organizes the Sea to Sky ride, Kirkwood used his own resources for additions to and maintenance of the trail.
Centra Gas last year considered a natural gas pipeline through the bush between Squamish and Whistler, which might have rekindled interest in and activity on the Sea to Sky Trail, has ruled that route out because it is too expensive.
The Sea to Sky Trail Society, which was established in 1991 with the aim of building a world-class recreational trail through the corridor, lost its charitable and society status almost three years ago for failing to file annual statements. Since then, there were a few kilometres of trail built in the Shadow Lake area by members of the YAPP program, funded by BC Hydro and assisted by Whistler municipal staff, three summers ago. But there has been no "official" work on the trail for the last two years.
At one time several groups in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton were working together on the project, but as David Roberts, a former chairman of the of the society, said last year, the "Squamish directors and the Whistler directors have each gone in their own directions. Some have left town; some have other local projects.
"There’s really only a couple of people still active."
When some members of the former board went to re-register the society they found the name had been taken. Kirkwood, who was previously involved with the society, had re-registered the name himself.
"I was never a director of the society," Kirkwood said. "I’m a builder."
Contacted on Monday, five days before a trail ride in which some 350 people will ride the trail with the presumption all will be well, Kirkwood said he has applied to the proper authorities in Victoria to have the Sea to Sky Trail Society’s charitable status reinstated.
"I’ve already got all the paper work there," he said of his application. "It’s been there for a couple weeks now. I’m hoping to re-constitute the society. When that happens, the money Robbin has in trust will go toward developing new routes."
Other than the $1,000 McKinney gave Kirkwood last summer, there has been little money spent on what was to be a continuous route from D’Arcy to Squamish.
Kirkwood said dubious politics at the municipal level, along with infighting among society members killed the society. Now he has the rights to the name, but he said he finds it difficult to work on the route other than on the trail between Squamish and Whistler.
"I’ve been out there maintaining the parts within my reach; clearing rocks and branches. Last weekend I put in close to 400 wheelbarrows of gravel from the Doris Burma trailhead to Chance Creek. Why do I do it? Because if you don’t maintain the trail that is there, people make slash trails and ride straight down the fall line. Then before you know it, you’ve got a 15-foot ravine."
McKinney said his crew of volunteers go into the existing areas of the what comprise the Sea to Sky Trail and do maintenance on the trail. McKinney says he would be happy to help with donations to new parts of the trail connecting the 150 kilometre route. So far, Kirkwood has been the only beneficiary.
"There’s a bit of history there," McKinney said. "I think there’s some people who don’t want to be associated with the idea of the trail because it just hasn’t developed. The idea of having a non-stop trail, no pavement, has a lot of appeal. But because there were so many people involved and so many municipalities, it hasn’t come together."
At the moment, Kirkwood is looking for new routes for the rougher, temporary areas of the trail.
"I guess I’m kinda’ the one who started this whole thing," he added. "I’m a little upset there’s so many straight down transitions out there. This trail was supposed to be a legacy."