Southwest BC Trails Committee Report

The Howe Sound Crest Trail project went ahead very late in the year, in the third week of October, as did the Black Mountain Plateau trail repairs and the third year of the Dog Mountain Trail rebuild project sponsored by Metro Vancouver Parks. All three crews then encountered extremely poor weather conditions, and it is unclear why they were delayed until the four months of dry summer weather were basically over.

Hopefully projects at higher elevations could start in mid-June and end in mid-October in future years. Similarly, we hope that the busiest Howe Sound Crest Trail section out to St. Marks Summit will be completed in the next three to four years, by using more of the summer months.

View across Howe Sound from the Km 29 throne on re-opened trail at Porteau

The northern section of the Howe Sound Crest Trail at Km 29 was unexpectedly cut off by a mining closure in early June, the result of a local stonemason getting a permit to blow up basalt pillars on Kallahne Creek to use for fireplaces and barbecues. This Ministry of Mines ‘Active Mining’ closure order on the gravel road meant that the Howe Sound Crest Trail effectively was closed at the Porteau Road end.

The FMCBC was able to locate the old “abandoned” hiking trail in the area (built by a youth crew from the BC Corrections Porteau camp in about 1971) and with this assistance a corridor past the closed area was set up by BC Parks, in a liability agreement with the new owners of this area, Concord Pacific. The entire area was originally owned by BC Rail ( i.e. the provincial government) for many years, and it was suggested in 1997 to the Director of BC Parks that when BC Rail was sold, this land could be added to Cypress Provincial Park, connecting it to Porteau Cove Provincial Park to the north—instead of Cypress “ending” at Deeks Lake.

However, it was then transferred to the Squamish Nation in a land swap, and Concord Pacific was engaged in a partnership to develop it into a new “Mountainside Community’ of 1400 homes, ironically called Porteau Cove. Other than a survey crew working in the area, there was no move to start construction that we could see, but we were assured by BC Parks that access through the new town would be guaranteed for hikers. It then appears that after roughly 20 years (of no construction), Concord Pacific exercised an obscure buyout clause in their agreement with the Squamish Nation and were able to get full ownership of these extensive lands for $1 (one dollar) in 2017, with the BC Courts apparently agreeing, and the Squamish Nation deciding subsequently not to appeal the decision. Concord Pacific had argued in court that they had spent $17 million in developing the site at Porteau, although there is arguably no evidence to show this, other than some old, tattered flagging tape. The old “abandoned” hiking trail section at Km 29 is now once again in use (see above photo) and is accessible from the well-maintained Porteau Road hiker parking lot at Kallanhe Creek.

The Yew Lake viewpoint. Lesley Bohm and Anders Ourom (on the left) with BC Parks staff and a seniors hiking group who were very appreciative of the barrier-free hiking trail.

2019 was the 25th Anniversary of the FMCBC project with BC Parks to rebuild the worn-out Yew Lake trail at Cypress into a barrier-free trail in 1993-94, funded mostly by UI funds from Ottawa, with some funding from MEC. A small commemoration was held at Cypress with Lesley Bohm and Anders Ourom attending as two of the people closely involved in managing the project. The trail had become completely worn out and, being in a wetland, was boggy and rooty. There was also some skepticism that using huge amounts of gravel to build a trail in a wetland would work, as some felt that the gravel would ruin the wetland area, which is home to a remarkable number of plant species, some relatively rare, as well as being highly accessible. However, with the careful planning and ongoing maintenance by volunteers and the PFO at Cypress, this project has been an ongoing success, and allows seniors, wheelchair users, little kids in strollers and botany groups to enjoy this area. Overall it has been a complete success, although people may have forgotten FMCBC’s key involvement.

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