History of the Sea to Sky Trail
The concept of the Sea to Sky Trail, a non-technical, multi-user mountain-bike trail, connecting the communities from Squamish to D’Arcy, goes back to 1991 when it was first conceived by trail visionaries Ross Kirkwood and Mike Manheim. Over time, the Sea to Sky Trail Society was formed; a volunteer organization.
Routes were planned and some trail built, particularly in the northern sections around D’Arcy and Birken. Trail construction was funded largely from grants obtained through the efforts of Robert Fine of the Sea to Sky Enterprise Centre, a grant from BC Hydro and some public fundraising...
The route was registered through the Ministry of Forests, under the Forest Standards Act, as Recreation Trail RT6042; subject to approval by the Squamish Forest District on a section-by-section basis. Some sections were approved but the effort wound down in 1998 as the volunteer board was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task.
In 2003 the project was revived by Whistler Councillor Gordon McKeever and the RMOW General Manager of Parks and Recreation, Keith Bennett. Support was garnered from the SLRD, the District of Squamish, the Village of Pemberton and the RMOW.
A steering team was formed by elected officials and staff representatives from these communities, with additional representation from the Sea to Sky Trail Society. As awareness grew, due to interest expressed from other communities, the scope of the project expanded to eventually range from Horseshoe Bay to Lillooet.
Phase 1 of the project is still to be Squamish to D’Arcy. Phase II, from D'Arcy to Lillooet, and Phase III, from Squamish to Horseshoe Bay, are still at the concept stage.
In 2005 the steering team became a Standing Committee of the SLRD, charged with determining the feasibility of developing a regional trail in the Sea to Sky Corridor. SLRD funding, supplemented from the District of Squamish and the RMOW was used to engage Cascade Environmental Resource Group Ltd to develop a master plan.
The Standing Committee’s mandate was fulfilled with the production of the master plan, which was presented to the SLRD Board of Directors in March 2006, then circulated to stakeholders in local government, the provincial government and First nations for technical review.
Also in 2005, the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation bestowed a $300,000 grant towards the Sea to Sky Trial. This generous infusion of funds was critical to building momentum for the project.
In October 2006 members of the Standing Committee were approached by Jim Bishop of the Trans Canada Trail Board of Directors; expressing interest in the Sea to Sky Trail becoming part of the Trans Canada Trail network.
Now, the Sea to Sky Trail moves forward with an official partnership with the Trans Canada Trail. By adding needed funding and national exposure this partnership allows the Sea to Sky Trail to actively pursue corporate partners and sponsors of all levels.
The scope of the project has also expanded somewhat to include a strong interpretive signage program, celebrating the natural setting and the human history and culture of the land (especially First Nations). It is felt this program will significantly enhance the environmental, social and cultural benefits of the trail and expand the experience for visitors and residents alike.
This is an ambitious project that will take years to complete, but this world class community amenity will result in environmental, social and economic benefits for generations to come.