On the trail again 

Consultant sought for revived Sea to Sky Trail project

Proponents of a trail, which will reach from Squamish to Lillooet, are looking for a consultant to draw up a master plan for the 150-kilometre path.

While the route itself has, for the most part been worked out, the plan about how to move forward has been missing.

"The Master Plan will be a business plan," said Gordon McKeever, a Whistler councillor and chairman of the Sea to Sky Trail Steering Committee.

"It will be breaking the trail down into segments. There will be an element of route finding but a lot of that knowledge already exists."

The idea of the trail has been around for over a decade.

"So this is not a brand new idea," McKeever said. "It is a brand new approach that has been implemented in the last couple of years and so far it is working."

Some of the stretches of trail already exist, such as the Discovery trails in Squamish and the Valley Trail in Whistler. But before any more trail construction goes ahead the path itself must be recognized by all levels of government and other agencies which it might affect, such as B.C. Hydro and CN Rail.

"It is really important that before we go forward with trail building that we have the legal right to construct a trail that will remain a durable part of the landscape," said McKeever.

A major step was taken toward that goal this year when the committee received standing committee status with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

"This makes it a much more official organ," said McKeever. "As a standing committee we have a much more official status."

The committee is also working to engage the Lil’wat, Squamish and Anderson Lake First Nations communities so that they are meaningful partners in the project. The Lil’wat are already partnering with Pemberton to build the Friendship Trail, which will be part of the Sea to Sky Trail.

The $20,000 Master Plan, funded by the SLRD, Squamish and Whistler, should be complete by September.

While there is no finishing date for the $3 million project McKeever hopes it will be completed within the next few years.

A passionate believer in the trail, which will be geared toward the beginner-intermediate rider, McKeever sees it as the backbone of an extensive trail system.

"What’s to say you can’t slip a credit card in your back pocket and go from B&B to B&B?" he said.

It’s hoped the trail will bring a new segment of tourists to the region, get people out of their cars and onto a bike, and it will engender a strong desire to protect the wilderness by those who enjoy it.

"One of the best ways to get people to cherish the natural environment is to help them to experience that environment and trails serve that purpose," said McKeever.

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