The art of compromise 

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The people most pissed off about this are backcountry skiers and tourers. They believe heliskiing is inconsistent with the park's non-motorized vision, noisy, stinky, gas guzzling and scary to wildlife. They don't mention how really, really pissed off they are when heliskiers poach the lines they've spent hours hiking up to.

But the group most p-oed of all with the draft plan are mountain bikers. Mountain bikers aren't allowed in the park past the bridge on the Helm Creek Trail. Back in 1990 when the master plan was put in place, mountain bikers weren't really on the radar. Since then, of course, mountain biking as exploded, much to the satisfaction of Whistler Blackcomb shareholders.

Perhaps only mildly surprising, 50 per cent of survey respondents favoured mountain biking in the park. Surprising because there is a massive, reasonably well-organized, activist mountain bike community in the lower mainland and all along the Sea to Sky corridor.

Another 35 per cent favoured mountain biking provided there were conditions place on how it was managed. I'm not certain what those conditions were but I suspect they embraced staying out of the 35 per cent's way or wearing their bikes around their necks or something like that.

The others didn't want bikes in the park under any conditions. They said it was because of user conflicts, damage to alpine ecosystems and the expense of maintaining multi-use trails.

Mountain bikers are upset because they believe majority rules. But such is not the art of compromise. And as dangerous as it might be to say, I don't think they should be allowed in the park.

I'm not sure what the accurate statistic might be to measure the ratio of thoughtful mountain bikers, ones who wouldn't ride trails when they were too wet, ones who wouldn't create exciting new trails or "features," ones who would travel at speeds acknowledging there may be hikers just around the next blind curve, but it doesn't really matter. Whatever the percentage of mountain bikers who would do all those things and more is, it's too high to inflict on Garibaldi Park. Don't believe me? Hike any local trail in the spring.

Before the flaming spokes come flying through my windows, I would like to say I feel much the same way about backcountry skiers, tourers and hikers. Too many of them leave too much garbage behind, don't know how to shit in the woods — or worse, on snow — and generally lack anything approximating a wilderness ethic.


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