Garibaldi Civil Defence Zone land-use plan to allow non-commercial recreation 

Rafting companies still excluded

A plan to allow day-use recreation while excluding commercial recreation in the Garibaldi Civil Defence Zone is "disappointing," according to the operator of a whitewater rafting company.

Whitewater rafting on the Cheakamus River below the Daisy Lake dam has been banned since 1998 due to the potential landslide hazard posed by the Barrier rock wall.

Geologists consider the natural rock wall that holds back Garibaldi Lake to be unstable and say it could collapse at any time.

But according to Brian Leighton of Whistler River Adventures, the Barrier doesn't know the difference between commercial and non-commercial recreation.

"Are those people less at risk because they aren't paying?" he wondered.

According to Marnie Skobalski, whose company Gryphus Land Use Planning Corp. has produced a land management plan for the civil defence zone, B.C. Parks, B.C. Hydro and the Ministry of Forests are looking at establishing day-use recreation sites at Daisy and Lucille lakes.

"The river rafting companies will not be too happy," said Skobalski. "But with the region's growing population and the increasing popularity of the area, recreation is a factor."

The first draft of the civil defence zone land-use plan was presented Sept. 12 to the public during a four-hour review and comment session.

"The general feeling was that people are pleased to see improvements on the way things are," said Skobalski.

Skobalski also said the plan will streamline the approval process for any type of commercial or construction activity in the civil defence zone, making B.C. Rail, B.C. Hydro and the Ministry of Transportation responsible for their own actions.

But Leighton said he doesn't exactly see the plan, which will continue to exclude commercial recreation, as an improvement.

"We're willing to assume the risk," he said. "They can't have it both ways and be fair."

Skobalski said she will be completing the final draft of the GCDZ land-use plan in the next couple of weeks and will then submit it to the Ministry of the Attorney General for final approval.

The civil defence zone area, which includes Black Tusk and Pinecrest subdivsions, Daisy Lake Reservoir, Shadow Lake, Lucille Lake and the Rubble Creek Valley, is the only civil defence zone in Canada.

According to Skobalski, the last time the Barrier rock wall collapsed was in 1855. More than 30-million cubic metres of debris travelled 6 1/2 kilometres down the Rubble Creek Valley and created Daisy Lake.

Skobalski said the most recent significant rock fall happened in 1977.

The GCDZ was created by provincial legislation in 1980 and forced residents of the town of Garibaldi, which was deemed to be at risk, to move out of the area. Most were moved to Pinecrest and Black Tusk.

Commercial activities, such as whitewater rafting, have been restricted because they bring people into the hazardous area.

Rafting companies ran trips down the Cheakamus River during the 1980s and ’90s until their permits were pulled in 1998.

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