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 in 2021.
The long-term intent is to identify and promote dozens of geosites throughout the Sea to Sky region in collaboration with neighbouring jurisdictions.
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.
As a result of the interplay of glaciation, volcanism and plate tectonics, the Sea to Sky region is home to many beautiful and rare geologic features. The Sea to Sky landscape has unique landforms and features found in few places on earth.
A geopark is an area containing sites of geological importance to foster conservation and public awareness.
Long-term plans are to develop a corridor-wide Sea to Sky geopark in coordination with neighboring jurisdictions. When the envisioned Sea to Sky Fire & Ice Geopark is established in the future, the project will eventually apply for designation as a UNESCO Global Geopark.
The Sea to Sky Fire & Ice Geopark will also be governed and managed by a non-profit society, which is a requirement for UNESCO designation.
To promote the natural history in the area, the RMOW is developing access to geosites within Whistler, to serve as an example for other geosites within the Sea to Sky region.
The initial phase of the Geopark will concentrate on four geosites in Whistler:
- 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. In total, the study identified 60 geosites in the Sea to Sky region in an area encompassing 2,500 square kilometres from the southern end of Howe Sound to Mt. Meager north of Pemberton. These sites are located in Provincial Parks, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and various municipalities.
Initial Phase – Whistler Geopark
- Fall 2020: Grant application submitted to Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program
- Summer 2021: Receive grant application results and determine next steps, including community engagement
- Fall 2021: Interpretive panels for all sites completed
- 2022-2024: Infrastructure for the Whistler geosites completed
Future Phase – Sea to Sky Fire & Ice Geopark
- Timeline to be determined
Details on community engagement will be released in 2021.
Both initial and future phases will be 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.