Tourism sector to present map to LRMP table 

Conservation side says LRMP has been unproductive; discussion phase coming to an end in four months

By Alison Taylor and Andrew Mitchell

A new map of the Sea to Sky corridor defining high value tourism areas could radically change the area’s land use planning for the future.

Instigated by the two tourism seats at the Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) table, the map captures the high value of front-, mid- and backcountry areas in the corridor.

Now all the remains over the next four to five months is to convince the other interests at the LRMP table, like mining, forestry, aggregates, energy and others, that this map is the blueprint for land use planning on Crown land over the next 20 years.

Suzanne Denbak, who represents one of the tourism seats at the LRMP table, said the tourism sector is proposing that recreation be the primary use of the land in the area and that everything else be recognized as a subsidiary value.

The tourism land use map shows one front-country zone, six mid-country zones and 14 smaller backcountry zones.

The front-country is the zone that follows Highway 99 and it’s where guests to the region expect to see a certain amount of man-made modifications to the land, like the ski operations.

The mid-country is a combination of roaded and unroaded areas, which is used by motorized and non-motorized interests. The Callaghan Valley would be considered a high value mid-country zone.

The backcountry has been defined as at least one kilometre away from an existing road where non-roaded and non-motorized activity takes place.

"There’s very little backcountry left in the region," said Denbak.

But if guest visits are expected to continue to grow, the backcountry must be protected and even tourism should have a light footprint on backcountry areas.

The guest experience hinges on this idea of an authentic backcountry at the edge of Whistler. Denbak said even if a guest stays in their hotel room, without setting foot in the backcountry during their entire visit, it doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that they could step into the pristine backcountry that’s integral to the branding of the Sea to Sky corridor.

Denbak said this has been one of the things that the tourism seats have tried to convey at the LRMP table, the fact that tourism interests are very complex. They have to sell a range of experiences because everyone’s definition of pristine wilderness is different.

She presented the tourism position at last week’s council meeting where she was offered supported for her work from some municipal councillors.

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