The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) continues to advance the Geopark Project, which includes exploring improving public access to and infrastructure at four sites of geological significance (“geosites”) in the south end of Whistler.
The Whistler community will be consulted and engaged on this project during 2022.
The long-term intent is to identify and promote dozens of geosites throughout the Sea to Sky region in collaboration with neighbouring jurisdictions.
The Sea to Sky Fire & Ice Aspiring Geopark will not be a ‘park’ in the way most people think of parks. That descriptor was determined by UNESCO.
The Fire & Ice Aspiring Geopark will provide a thematic umbrella for multiple geosites within the region. The Fire & Ice Aspiring Geopark will be governed and coordinated by a not-for-profit society. The society work will with stakeholders to provide curatorial consistency for each geosite.
The Geopark will not commandeer public lands, or inhibit any form of development, or affect private property, or impose rules or regulations; nor do they impede First Nations’ Rights and Titles.
Why ‘Fire & Ice’ and why ‘Aspiring’ Geopark?
- ‘Fire & Ice’ represents the interplay of volcanism and glaciation that shaped the landscape.
- ‘Aspiring’ because we aspire to achieve UNESCO designation (after which ‘Aspiring’ will be removed). In 2020 the Fire & Ice Geopark was granted ‘Aspiring’ status by the Canadian Geopark Network which, in Canada, is the conduit to UNESCO designation.
Goals of the Geopark
- Increase awareness of the region’s geological heritage by helping people understand that biodiversity and human heritage – led by Indigenous heritage – are shaped by geology.
- Strengthen residents’ understanding of where they live, thus providing communities with a sense of pride and a deeper commitment to stewardship.
In September 2020, following the endorsement by Whistler Council, the RMOW submitted a grant application to the joint federal-provincial Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to support the project.
The RMOW is exploring developing access to four geosites within Whistler, to serve as an example for other geosites within the Sea to Sky region.
- Lava escarpment at Cheakamus Crossing
- Volcanic crater at Loggers Lake
- Basalt eskers at Cal-Cheak North
- Lava-glacier-bedrock contact gorge at Cal-Cheak South
A new proposed trail would link the Sea to Sky Trail near Train Wreck to the geosite adjacent to Cheakamus Crossing and on to Loggers Lake, forming a loop with other existing trails.
There are proposed viewing platforms, lawn areas where feasible and interpretation.
The four sites were identified in the Geopark Feasibility Study conducted by the RMOW in 2017.
Initial Phase – Whistler Geosites
- Fall 2020: Grant application submitted to Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to improve trails to and install viewing decks & interpretive panels at Whistler geosites
- Spring 2022: Receive grant application results and determine next steps, including community engagement
- Summer & Fall 2022: Community engagement.
- 2023-2024: Depending on outcome of community engagement potential infrastructure including trails for the Whistler geosites completed
Future Phase – Sea to Sky Fire & Ice Geopark
- Timeline to be determined
Details on community engagement will be provided in 2022.
This initial phase of the Geopark is funded through the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI), in addition to any grant money received from other levels of government.
RMI is incremental funding provided by the Provincial Government to support Whistler’s tourism economy.