ISU cleaning up operations 

Military leaving behind upgraded fire camps, may be able to assist with Sea to Sky Trail

The Integrated Security Unit (ISU) is fast removing traces of the biggest non-wartime military exercise in Canadian history.

Major Dan Thomas of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit, a combined initiative of the RCMP, the Canadian Forces and various other agencies, delivered a presentation to the board of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District this week outlining that very fact.

He said 99 per cent of the ISU footprint has been removed from the Sea to Sky region and that they aim to enhance the areas where they were stationed.

"Roughly 99 per cent of Canadian Forces assets in the region are gone," he said. "Cal-Cheak Quarry is largely torn down and hitting the road. We had approximately 50 sites in B.C. from Chilliwack to Sea to Sky Country, roughly a dozen sites here. Eight have been closed out and handed back to their owners, another 42 write large from Chilliwack to here are being closed out."

Thomas said at the meeting that the ISU has left tangible legacies in places where they stationed their camps. These included hydroelectric connections in certain areas so that they wouldn't have to depend on generators. The military also set up at B.C. Forests fire camps and installed mobile capabilities so that they could go anywhere they were needed in the province.

That may be of particular use this upcoming summer. If it's anything like the last one, British Columbia could be dealing with an unprecedented number of forest fires, each of them the legacy of dry weather and fuels on the forest floor. But Canadian Forces contributions to the bases may ensure that they'll be useful in seasons other than the summer.

"(We) winterized all six fire bases, you can use them all year round now," Thomas said. "Four of six had their kitchen and communication facilities upgraded so they can feed people and give better connectivity."

Beyond that, Thomas said ISU has been in discussions with Gordon McKeever, project manager for the Sea to Sky Trail, and there's a possibility of them helping to upgrade a part of the network in the Cheakmus Canyon area.

"We do have the ability to help improve that section," he said. "It's on a cliff, the critical thing is that CN Rail has to go along with it because it covers their line. It's right above their line, on their easement. CN Rail has to sign off on this before we actually do it."

There were an estimated 500 soldiers stationed at a camp in the Callaghan-Cheakamus rock quarry. Canadian Forces personnel were in charge of securing the backcountry during the Games, warning people to keep away from venues such as the Whistler Olympic Park and the Whistler Athletes' Village.

At one point the Canadian Forces intercepted two skiers who had skied down Cakehole, a popular backcountry run on Whistler Mountain, and detained them for several hours as they demanded to know what they were doing. The skiers protested that they didn't know they had gone into a secure zone and were later escorted out, missing almost an entire ski day.



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