Whistler Nordic Centre
Recreation Access Impact Assessment

In 2004, Dave Williamson of CNRG, was retained by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) to prepare a Recreation Access Impact Assessment for the Whistler Nordic Centre (WNC) in the Callaghan Valley in British Columbia’s Coast Mountain range. As part of the assessment, was to consult with various interest and stakeholder groups including commercial recreation operators and public recreation users from the motorized and non-motorized sectors, as well as First Nations concerns regarding a candidate Wild Spirit Place, which added a level of complexity to the process. Key challenges identified in the assessment included access during construction, and articulation and management of the spectrum of the recreation activities based on current levels of use in the post-games scenario. Issues identified in the assessment were used by the Master Plan to refine the venue design and program recreational legacies.

The Callaghan Valley is an unmanaged recreational environment that contains a provincial park, two forest recreation sites and four commercial recreation tenures. Since the valley is unprogrammed, all manner of public recreation users partake in a wide range of pursuits in an ad hoc manner and often in direct conflict with each other. This current condition will be exacerbated by the development of the WNC and the operation of a post-games legacy facility.

The problems associated with overlapping and conflicting uses was addressed through a management planning exercise. The Recreation Access Impact Assessment avoided and mitigated adverse impacts by anticipating the impacts associated with the WNC, identifying conflicting activities, making management recommendations, and setting use levels.

As a result of the information gathered concerning public snowmobile use in the area, a plan is currently being developed to manage access and routing of public snowmobiles in an effort to minimize their impact to other users while facilitating better access for snowmobiles. The Recreation Access Impact Assessment successfully identified and quantified use levels and potential impacts arising from development of the WNC to those recreational activities. This study is the first step in managing recreational activity in the Callaghan Valley for the 2010 Olympics and beyond.

As with all resource-based activities, recreation has impact and is impacted by competing uses. By clearly identifying the types of uses and by understanding the basis of conflict, it is possible to manage activities in a manner that avoids or mitigates those adverse impacts. By managing the range of recreational activities taking place on a land base, the level and intensity of the activities can be matched to the goals and objectives, or in this case, the vision for the Callaghan Valley.

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